Time for a little more poetic experimentation. I read Canadian writer Alain Farah’s Ravenscrag recently and loved some of the passages enough to attempt erasure poetry with them. There is a strange logic to these type of poems which makes you wonder just how much of our language is essential…
Black marble tycoon content with conformist little books:
his merchant fleet takes pleasure in being neutralised
at the Montreal governor’s estate; those pastime books
spin floridly through thirty-six rooms –
not sinking into the mind
not speaking to dark grief
but breeding ravens.
The ballrooms may be mentally ill
yet it’s always the others who
bake cakes and play ping-pong.
The dwarf stumbles down to cavernous Cameroon
and disciples of La Sape
make books with no night.
Have you ever attempted erasure poetry and discovered that each person will choose different words which resonate with them? That our subconscious will pick those words which best describe our current state?
For every inspiration
there is a yanked deception
all for your good, your own good, your very own good
Old Dobbin work horse, clothes horse,
fit in, fit in, or back to the bargain bin.
Black and white world views:
all men cheat, all women punish.
Snide remarks, alimony payments, guilt oh guilt.
Children? A boast, a blackmail,
nothing too tangly.
Oh, princess, princess, you’re too old,
your pink trousers far too rolled…
Life is to be endured
remembered with regret.
Jump in, drown, in perfect pool
of emoting gushingness – so like a woman!
Seductive but not a slut,
mother in bloom, household goddess with Cath Kidston apron,
organic, fragrant, don’t pop the balloon!
Stay average, stay you, stay submissive,
how happy we are in our 4X4 car!
I’m linking this to Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets (doors open later tonight) – always a great opportunity to experiment and share. Admittedly, I cheated slightly and added a few bits, but relied mainly on the prose text I’d posted here. I chose a childish beat and repetition, to further emphasise the infantilisation of yummy mummies. Which version do you like best? I always tend to choose the more succinct and ambiguous, but am I right?
Point of clarification: I am neither for nor against Yummy Mummies. But I don’t envy them. Life circumstances have made me feel their pain – or what I imagine to be their pain. Luckily, I’m not yummy enough to quite enter their ranks.
A bit of erasure poetry for you tonight (well, more prose than poetry), which I’m linking to that wonderfully welcoming venue for sharing poems and ideas, the dVerse Poets Pub.
It’s almost exactly 25 years since our revolution in Romania. For many years I called it a ‘stolen’ or ‘so-called’ revolution, as we saw people tarnished by their Communist and security forces links become the most vocal proponents of the free market (and profiting hugely by it). But, no matter what followed, that doesn’t diminish the magic and hope of those few days when we really believed we could change the world. I found my diary from that time and have chosen a few lines from here and there to give you a feel for the atmosphere.
Dad was called in to the office on Sunday evening.
‘Don’t send any Christmas cards abroad just now.’
Helicopters flying overhead.
In Timişoara, rubber cudgels. Bullets too, so we hear.
We’re all hoping for more.
‘No public gatherings, curfew at 8 p.m., keep your ID card with you at all times.’
The school is strangely empty, profs barricaded in the Dean’s office.
Nearly holidays but no tickets: trains have been cancelled.
‘Those imperialistic and fascist forces trying to destabilise our fatherland.’
They’ve smashed bookshop windows and burnt Ceauşescu’s books.
They dared the army to shoot:
‘We are the people, who are you protecting?’
Rumours, rumours everywhere.
This morning he calls a public meeting, shown live on TV,
with slogan-filled banners, portraits of the Beloved Couple.
I’m on my knees, praying for something to happen.
Suddenly, someone interrupted – I heard, I heard the boos!
Utter befuddlement on his face:
‘You mean, they really don’t like me?’
Transmission cut for a few endless minutes.
My parents begged me not to leave the house.
‘All students should resign their party membership:
a party that can kill its own people has lost all credibility.’
Tanks rolled up, shooting continued into the night, dogs barking wildly.
No heroics, more like running, finding shelter.
Smashing glass with your bare head.
Radio switched on every few minutes.
What were we expecting?
All we heard were patriotic songs.
Then at 12:55 p.m. the music stopped:
‘This is Radio Free Bucharest. We have an important announcement to make.’
Appeals to go out to help, provide medical aid, electricity, food.
It feels like civil war.
I went to a hospital to offer my first-aid skills but they only took the gauze.
We want to hug. We need to run.
Trucks loaded with people, unarmed yet willing.
A joy to see how well-behaved and selfless people are,
even if enemies and sharpshooters lurk atop buildings.
In the breaks between the shooting, we help
provide free drinks.
Companionship of perfect strangers.
I drop the cherries in my pie, keeping time with the machine-guns.
Over at dVerse Poets Pub the poetic form for experimenting with today is erasure poetry. Here is what Anna Montgomery has to say about it:
Erasure poetry is a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem. The results can be allowed to stand in situ or they can be arranged into lines and/or stanzas.
So here is my attempt at it, based on a poem I recently wrote about my name and how it looks on paper. Just about half of the words have been erased and I am amazed by how much tighter my poem now feels. Maybe that’s the way to go!
I hated my name as a child.
I craved glamour – Esmeralda was my weapon of choice.