It’s amazing how difficult it is to stay away from clichés when writing poetry… or anything, really! As part of last week’s fabulous poetry workshop with the performance poetry guru that is Anthony Anaxagorou, we had to work on random concrete nouns and associate them with interesting adjectives. Harder than it sounds to produce a coherent poem out of it. Here is my pitiful result, which I am linking to dVerse Poets Pub and their Open Link Night. Join us there for very diverse explorations of poetry!
Indifferent sunshine taps on the bleary-eyed windows
a cat burglar in white
but fails to wake her.
She grips the eiderdown, she swallows the grumpy phlegm
lodged in her system.
And ten versatile coffees later
she waltzes with the wandering pencil
on the frisky paper.
From the pregnant bag of ideas
she selects yet another, caresses it with bloated thumb,
while a reborn supper
announces itself shyly on the dancing table.
Life is a house of cards. Complex and fragile, it sometimes just comes fluttering down or else you strike it with Alice-like overwhelm morphed into sour temper.
Yet at other times, the weariness is forgotten and everything seems possible. Surprisingly, Beijing (with its loud, crazy traffic and humorous, hard-working and openly curious people) had that effect on me.
I felt I could come home and tackle the long, long list of household, administrative, professional and creative tasks that I have set myself. Not just yet, though. Today I will take time to recover from jetlag and catch up with emails and blog posts. Otherwise, I may end up falling asleep just about anywhere, as is often the case in hard-working China.
It’s not quite Friday yet, but this may well be my Friday Fun contribution for this week, as I start to get up to speed again with all of my work. Lots of reviews coming up too!
Oh, and just a whiff of Beijing smog to spoil the air on my last day there…
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.
It’s on every radio station I seem to switch on: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars singing ‘Uptown Funk’. I’d heard this catchy song before, enjoyed the cheeky video, but in February it became part of the soundtrack of my life.
It was the music blaring out of the loudspeakers as my children came skiing down the slopes with shiny badges and faces to match. It was the last song on my car radio before I had my fateful meeting with a literary agent and editor. It was the song I heard just before I embarked upon a challenging training course with a difficult client. And, in each case, the outcome was as happy and snappy as the song itself. So it has become my ‘good luck token’. Think I’m all bark and no bite, all dreams and nought to back it up? Just you watch!
So it made my day to see Michelle Obama dancing to it on Ellen:
Poetry is what we make of disparity—an effort to bridge the gap between the raggedness of daily life and our deeper intuition of (or yearning for) coherence, if only with a flying leap. Life is accidental. A poem is a foothold, a stepping stone, a space probe. A whole is what we leave in our wake. (Kevin Craft)
Das Gedicht ist einsam. Es ist einsam und unterwegs… das Gedicht zeigt eine starke Neigung zum Verstummen.
The poem is lonely. It is lonely and on its way… the poem shows a strong tendency to fall silent.
Anthony at dVerse Poets Pub has us talking about music being the food of love, and urging us to play on. Who am I to disagree? Musicality, rhythm, sound is all-important to me in poetry – when I read the poetry of others or when I write my own.
When you were mine I took you for granted.
I lost you and never noticed you had gone.
My desk, my car, my home bathed in silence –
I believed them calm. I thought I relished the peace.
Then one day I wandered by chance to a small room
cloudy with sweat, bulging with smoke, but a space