For Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub, I thought I’d attempt a spoken word poem. I’m not going to torture you with my recorded voice (or display my lack of technical ability) but you have to imagine quite a jaunty, jarring, hectic note to this one.
Get out, get out from the suffocating glass bell, I want to yell,
but we’re protected so safe within, we survey the scene
with composure, without compunction, with complacency…
And do we even have the decency
to try and learn the language? Do we, hell! And when
people say ‘Non’ we puff, ‘Well, well…what a country, what a system, how do they survive?’
But to me, they feel alive.
Oh, sure, they moan and cuss, groan and fuss,
there’s no British exclusivity or prior claim, you know…
But, on the whole, they let us be, in our inane inability
to pronounce ‘pain’ properly.
When we gather with high-pitched gazelle squeals at watering holes,
descend from our Landies to gather our children under squawking wings
from rugby and ballet, theatre and tennis, piano and gym,
pointing their little toes, pouting their objections…
When we sigh how our lives are filled way past the brim
yet each day another piece of meaning drops off into emptiness…
I want to take that first person plural pronoun
and smash it in resounding, resolute, smithereenish crashings.
I want to proclaim no allegiance, no herding, not me,
I’m not one of them!
But my passport tells another story.
Claudia is asking us about multi-layered poetry over at dVerse Poets Pub. How do we build up the colour, texture, meaning of a poem? Poetry is all about allowing multiple truths, multiple meanings to coexist, to shimmer in uncertainty and marvel, but how do we craft that?
Here’s how I set about it in the example above. I started off with a simple word cloud prompt. I borrowed the first line from a previous poem of mine and formed sound associations for the main wordsor syllables in that line ‘sits’, ‘laun-dry’, ‘queen’. I came up with ‘seeds/fits/situation/jinks/snitch/pit/lit/critter’ and ‘dreary/meander/moan/roan/foal’ and ‘ream/seen/beam/skein/weaning/scene’. I picked the words that most appealed to me and continued to build on them with more conceptual associations this time, but I still had no idea what my ‘poem’ would be about. If there even was a poem lurking somewhere in all this.
A few hours later, I was waiting to board my flight at the airport and I heard three ladies behind me talking about a friend of theirs who had recently died of cancer. That planted the real seed of the poem in my mind and I played around with the words that would fit in with that idea. The first draft was quickly written, but it lacked that conversational tone that had sparked my inspiration. So from sound to content to tone, I hope that finally the poem is a little closer to the confusion, uncertainty, wish for hope that is always present around the C word.
It will need a few more iterations and layers before it’s halfway finished, though…
There’s a wonderful challenge for you over at dVerse Poets Pub, should you choose to accept it. We are being asked to talk about our poetic influences, which poets we most admire and then to write a poem in the style of that poet.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. However, there are three styles of poetry I enjoy. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve crystallised each style into a single poet I am particularly fond of. Here are the three, with examples of my own poetry written in their style. See if you can match the poets I’m trying to emulate with the poems below. [I may have mentioned them previously on this blog.] Please guess in the comments below and all will be revealed later. I’ve given some additional visual clues to help.
1) The Anguish of Modern Existence
Between a June and forgotten September, we once were heroes.
Between the sea and sand, we once knew flight
And heady air of freedom; or all the giddy brightness of the sun.
Once there was a glimmer… and then we lost.
Once there was a brief ambition… drowned in polite nonentity of words.
First we had coherence, the fullness, the whole –
But we heeded it not and mocked,
O O O O that whining rag…
Thinking the circle is easily closed once again.
Siamo sempre singulari and we were left with snippets
odd scraps to fight over, amour de mon enfance,
all but forgotten.
Once love dwelled in this unreal city.
Now its waxen wings are melted and its feet ground to dust.
2) Sensuous Mediterranean:
Please – just this once – take my hand and lead me to the terrace
to bathe in silken moonrays, drink in the shush of trees,
laugh softly at the mewl of plaintive cats
and trace that whimper within us,
eyes sinking in each other’s.
For once switch off reason and indulge in full moon madness,
dance among the giants of Poesy and leave
algorithms, measurements to tremble just a little at fear of your neglect.
And if you can’t lead, follow, join me in this folly,
all that glitters in its spots will cross the bridge
before the swine//
so desist from putting your cart ahead to skin a cat!
There’s more than one way to lose one’s best friend,
don’t cast your pearls far from the tree.
Heed my advice// good things come to those
who hang him.
Make your hay and spare my rod.
One man’s meat is not gold and an apple
to catch the worm.
If one man’s dog is another man’s poison, why does the early bird not bite
/and is not heard/
This is in partial (and inadequate) response to a prompt by Bjorn over at dVerse Poets. He invites us to mix our metaphors, but I’ve chosen some proverbs and sayings, which produced some unusual insights when jiggled and matched anew. The formatting isn’t quite right – it just doesn’t work on the screen/online as it does on my notebook. Here’s to the superior power of the printed page!
This is some poetry inspired by my current re-reading of The Tale of Genji.
The brush at rest, she sweetly shed
her kanji burden in black rain.
Told it slant, but all refrain
from advice or like
on poetry’s thin frame.
Safflower and cicada shells linger on pages
but nothing compares
to the shy violet blush of
crocus beneath dried leaves.
How could I forget
the persistent folly of men
and how quickly sleeves are
dampened by the morning dew?
And, in the spirit of Royall Tyler’s multiple footnotes: kanji are the Chinese characters or ideograms used in Japanese (alongside the syllabic hiragana and katakana), safflower and cicada shells are nicknames used for certain ladies to whom Genji has shown some affection, while the wet sleeves are a recurring motif in all of Classical Japanese and Chinese literature and represent mourning, regret, suffering.