Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's been a busy month or so with poetry events, kids birthday parties and now the trip of a lifetime to Israel in two weeks time to plan for. When I was talking to Donald S Murray, he said that there are two ways he approaches writing a book: (1) ask a question and then the book aims to answer that question (ie for The Guga Hunters he asked himself why do men from the small community of Ness continue the centuries-old tradition of hunting baby gannets). (2) Use a metaphor or image and keep it in mind whilst writing the book, so for Donald's book about the building of the Italian chapel in Orkney he had in mind the image of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet coming to life.
I thought this was all very interesting.

 I've been reading through my collected Ingeborg Bachmann and she has some gorgeous turns of phrase, though because I'm reading in translation I guess I'll never know how much of my translation is Bachmann or the translator. Either way, it's very good reading, very Celan-like which is to be expected but much more nature-orientated or grounded in which is definitely up my street. Here's a wee taster from 'Borrowed Time':

For the entrails of fish
have grown cold in the wind.
Dimly burns the light of lupines.
Your gaze makes out in fog:
the loan of borrowed time
will be due on the horizon.

There your loved one sinks in sand;
it rises up to her windblowh hair,
it cuts her short,
it commands her to be silent,
it discovers she's mortal
and willing to leave you
after every embrace.


Jim Murdoch said...

It’s finding the damn question or locating the imagery you want to explore that’s so hard. The question I keep coming back to is: What do I care about enough to devote the next two or more years to? I’m pretty sure I’m still going to end up writing about memory. I left a comment on Ken Armstrong’s blog yesterday which reads in part: ‘I’m with Heraclitus: "You can't step into the same river twice." Cratylus, one of his disciples, went one step further with "You can't step into the same river once" which sounds like nonsense but I think I get it. Life is complex and it takes so much effort to get on with it that we never have any time to step back and assess it until years later. We were never all there and our concept of place has been formed after the fact. All our memories are imagined.’ This is not an original thought but it is a compelling one.

I still think you should go with blood as a topic. It’s got to be one of the world’s top ten symbols. (Now I’m wondering what might the other nine be.) The trip to Israel might be just what you need to provide focus. At the moment you’re looking for inspiration in familiar surroundings. Maybe what you need is a clean slate.

Marion McCready said...

perhaps, it certainly can't hurt! I'm doing lots of poetry reading at the minute, Bachmann, Darwish, Amichai, Hughes even, and I find I'm reading the old ones (Hughes) slightly differently now which is interesting.