Friday, October 30, 2015

On writing a Trident poem

To make up for the usual rubbish Scottish summer we had a gloriously long, warm, dry autumn which meant spending many hours sitting by the Clyde Firth writing streams of images.

I've used all this material to write a poem in three voices about Trident nuclear submarines - a common sighting on the Clyde. 
It many ways it was a real challenge to write. Technically, writing a poem in three voices was for me a new experience. I started by separating the material into three distinct personas which I initially based on archetypal projections of  mother / daughter / wife.  

These projections were disbanded when the writing became staid and I pretty much got stuck on the poem. The initial idea was to write dramatic monologues in the voices of women anti-nuclear protesters. So I did a lot of fascinating reading up on and watching youtube clips of women peace protesters and some of the approaches they took. And although I used some of the material the voices in my poem tended much more towards lyric than dramatic writing which I felt would have required a more narrative approach that was non-existent in my poem.

I also did a lot of reading up on and watching documentaries on the atom bomb / nuclear testing / Hiroshima etc. I've always been anti-Trident and also always been fascinated by nuclear power. Reading up on it all has just enforced the horrific reality of nuclear weapons and how the only right and rational response is disarmament.

Anyway the poem approaches this in a very understated way, I think of my voices as Cassandra's - prophets of disaster - rather than being an overtly political poem. 

I found the drafting process more difficult than usual and still feel the need to hear it read aloud by three voices to see if it's actually working.
Whether it does work or not it's certainly been a 'stretching' process in writing it!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

So Dunoon now has its own annual book festival!

I so enjoyed hearing Liz Lochhead read in Dunoon Cinema on Friday night, Vagabond Voices fiction and TV drama writer (including writing for Taggart!!!) Chris Dolan read with Vagabond Voices publisher Allan Cameron last night. Today I heard Jess Smith tell stories about her life and about the Scottish travelling community as well as sing a couple of traditional gypsy songs. I also read today to a super friendly audience with Tariq Latif - it was good to try out my new Dunoon pier poem and Mary Stuart poem.

I was pleased to be mentioned in The Scotsman the other day amongst writers reclaiming childbirth as a legitimate source of inspiration!

I've been doing a lot of unedited writing - just writing pages and pages of images and lines - without cleaning them up into poems. I'm waiting on a new theme, bigger picture to work on and bring all of these images and thoughts into. I'm always looking to move onto something hopefully bigger and better, to really expand my writing.

I'm so enjoying reading and re-reading Theodore Roethke's On Poetry and Craft - so many great quotes from him which I've been twittering occasionally!

I received my contributors copy of Paris Lit Up in the post the other day - what a gorgeous book and collection of poems, stories and artwork!