Friday, 21 April 2017

Be Present

I said in my last post that I knew I wouldn't be able to write a poem a day for GloPoWriMo, but after this week I think I could surprise myself. I've pretty much completed 3 new poems. 

And it has to do with being present, being in place, ready to write every day or as often as you can. 

One of the benefits of doing writing practices every day is that like any skill the more you use it the easier it becomes and hopefully the better you get. If you make it a routine to pick up a pen or turn on your laptop at a regular time during the week then your mind becomes attuned to it. You start unconciously thinking of things to write before you sit down, you start to sculpt lines in your head. You cut through the dross of warm-ups faster. 

I've had 2 of the 3 news poems on my 'I want to write' list for ages, but making time to write everyday this week I was able to jump into ideas faster when I found time to sit down. My son's hour guitar lesson was just long enough to sit in a cafe with cake and tea and break the back of a short poem about cake - part of series I've been wanting to write about Finnish flavours for ages. 

The day before I spent half a page playing with a prompt from the NaPoWriMo site about writing a poem letter and then I felt warmed-up enough to start a poem about my daughter and language that I had previously made a page of notes on. The third poem was inspired by something I saw on a drive last week.

Practicing everyday means I am more focussed and ready to write when I sit down. I'm really enjoying the feeling, so hope I can keep it up over the next few months until school finishes and I have the kids every day. It will be harder to find time to write then. 

Here's two more poems to enjoy: Anna Akhmatova whose poems I discovered in university.

You Will Hear Thunder

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you. 

When You're Drunk, You're So Much Fun

When you’re drunk, you’re so much fun -
Your rambling tales make no sense.
The early fall arrived and hung
Bright yellow flags upon the elms. 

In the land of fraud and guile, 
We have strayed, and now, repent,
But, what are these fictitious smiles,
On our lips, so strangely bent?

Not happiness or peace of mind, 
A biting torment - we pursued…
I will not leave my friend behind, - 
So tender and so dissolute.

Monday, 17 April 2017

GloPoWriMo - Global Poetry Writing Month

April is Global Poetry Writing Month, in case you didn't know. I didn't. Well, it's National Poetry Writing Month, but someone has realised that there is a world beyond the United States (a rant for another day), so a new acroynym has popped up. And I'm going with it.

Here's a bit of information about its inspiration and conception, but the basic idea is to inspire poets to write a poem a day for the month of April. And to read and share poetry. 

I can't write a novel in a month as in NaNoWriMo, just as I know I can't write a poem a day, I just don't have the time or energy to even start to sketch one out daily.  I used to join in and promote National Poetry Day when I was involved in the writing scene in Scotland and I do like the idea behind promoting poetry writing for a month, so I thought I could share a few favourtie poems on my blog today, just to get into the spirit. Poems that I have loved, been inspired by or wish I had written.

This first poem by Wallace Stevens was introduced to me by a lecturer back in my undergraduate studies. I think it was the first poem that I had ever dissected to see beyond the first reading and it opened new levels of writing for me.

Idea of Order at Key West

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.   
The water never formed to mind or voice,   
Like a body wholly body, fluttering 
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion   
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,   
That was not ours although we understood,   
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean. 

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.   
The song and water were not medleyed sound   
Even if what she sang was what she heard,   
Since what she sang was uttered word by word. 
It may be that in all her phrases stirred   
The grinding water and the gasping wind;   
But it was she and not the sea we heard. 

For she was the maker of the song she sang.   
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea 
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.   
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew   
It was the spirit that we sought and knew   
That we should ask this often as she sang. 

If it was only the dark voice of the sea   
That rose, or even colored by many waves;   
If it was only the outer voice of sky 
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,   
However clear, it would have been deep air,   
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound   
Repeated in a summer without end 
And sound alone. But it was more than that,   
More even than her voice, and ours, among 
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,   
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped   
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres   
Of sky and sea. 

                           It was her voice that made   
The sky acutest at its vanishing.   
She measured to the hour its solitude.   
She was the single artificer of the world 
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,   
Whatever self it had, became the self 
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,   
As we beheld her striding there alone, 
Knew that there never was a world for her   
Except the one she sang and, singing, made. 

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,   
Why, when the singing ended and we turned   
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,   
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,   
As the night descended, tilting in the air,   
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,   
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,   
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night. 

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,   
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,   
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,   
And of ourselves and of our origins, 
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

I often use this poem by Pablo Neruda in my writing classes to illustrate how anything can be the inspiration for a poem.

Ode to my Socks

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder's hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter. 

And finally Elizabeth Bishop, the first poet whose works I wholly got into, not just dipping into a poem here or there, but soaking up as much of her as I could find. 

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master; 
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster. 

I found these poems on which seems to have a good collection mix of poems if you're looking for established poets. 

I hope I will be able to come back this month and offer up a few more poems. Try to spend a little time with poetry this month, writing or reading it.