Maintaining the Holiday Mood with Jabberwocky

So whaddya gonna do to prevent the post-holiday slump? Book the next holiday, of course! (Paris for a week in October). And write some nonsense verse based on the language of Lewis Carroll. The Alice books have long been one of my favourite reads, both in childhood and now. This is the voice of the mimsy borogoves (illustrated below as the ones with long pelican legs and weepy hairbrush faces).

From Wikipedia, John Tenniel illustration.
From Wikipedia, John Tenniel illustration.

Jibberjabberwocky or the Mimsy Borogoves

 

 Minging flimsy zzzizzy whimsy bizzz

 

Fair few feathers falling out

 

Awww why whiney whingy where oh when?

 

Whimper me softly

 

Ayyyy a naminin moo moo mincy nin moan

 

Rustle the muscle and bustle

 

Shush mushing weep seep trickle deep

 

Come all alone to the great groan

 

Update on 18th September, 2014: I’m connecting this to Tony Maude’s wonderful prompt of nonsense verse at dVerse Poets, although it is not strictly a rhymed and metered piece.

 

Poems to Celebrate New Beginnings

Here are a few quotes which describe my start in the New Year, courtesy of The Poetry Foundation, The Poetry Archive and my own bookshelves.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.    (Naomi Shihab Nye)
The problem
of time.          Of there not being
enough of it.
My girl came to the study
and said Help me;
I told her I had a time problem
which meant:
I would die for you but I don’t have ten minutes.
Hawking says
there are little folds in time
(actually he calls them wormholes)
but I say:
there’s a universe beyond
where they’re hammering the brass cut-outs .. .
Push us out in the boat and leave time here—
(because: where in the plan was it written,
You’ll be too busy to close parentheses,
the snapdragon’s bunchy mouth needs water,
even the caterpillar will hurry past you?   (Brenda Hillman)
How far is far?
And how many ways to get there?
We walk
and walk towards meaning
and don’t arrive    (Mahmoud Darwish)
The trees are coming into leaf,
like something almost being said. […]
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.   (Philip Larkin)

much against everyone’s advice

I have decided to live the life

I want to read about and write it

not by visiting the graves of authors    (Sam Riviere)

On Writing Poetry in the Morning

Know

not at all

what to find in dredges

of my mind: appealing rhymes, rocking sounds,

or free verse galloping to the hounds, ideas so abstract,

sly turns of phrase, precise descriptions, felicitous haze. I wake with words crawling

 

out

every pore

refusing to battle

leading, coaxing, bullying more. Nothing

licks them into shape, so let them swarm gently, leaving agape,

Meaning, words drift asunder, while the Poet chases rainbows. It’s a perfect blunder!

 

This has been an interesting experiment of mathematical meter over at dVerse Poets.  I wrote a rhyming and metered poem yesterday which I have now redone to fit a Pascal Triangle, that is, 1-3-6-10-15-21 syllables in each line.  I am not sure it adds to the poetic experience (the rhymes have gone awry, of course, and I’ve had to lose or change words), but it’s all part of exercising the poetic muscle.

 

Cinquain: No Limits

Over at the dVerse Poets Pub, we are being encouraged to try out a different short verse form called cinquain.  Here is my rushed attempt, but there are some far, far better ones out there, so be sure to visit there and have fun reading them!

Image from blog.legalsonar.com
Image from blog.legalsonar.com

No Limits

 

She dreamt

of fortune, fame,

freedom to beget worlds.

Beating head against glass ceiling,

she wrote.

 

My Blogging Anniversary

anniversary-1xWordPress wished me Happy Birthday today.  Yes, it’s been exactly one year since I created this blog, although (ironically, given its title) I did not find time to post anything until the 7th of February, 2012.

I was not new to blogging.  I had been writing a blog on my professional website for 2-3 years.  But it was professional, neutral, business-like… bar an occasional foray into the vicissitudes of expat life.  It was a blog I was very keen to promote and market, as it was a way to let prospective clients know what I was doing.

This writing blog was something I was very reluctant to share with anybody else.  I started it mainly as a personal challenge.  A means of holding myself accountable for giving pride of place to the thing that means so much to me in my life. Namely, writing.  That thing which I have, nevertheless, always placed last in my list of priorities.  Perhaps because I love it so much (even when it is painful and difficult), that it feels like sheer self-indulgence to be dedicating so much time to it.  How could I possibly be selfish enough to write, when there are so many other claims on my time: money-making, laundry, children, husband, parents, friends, acquaintances, schools, society, the wider world?

Antarctica So this blog was my little stake of selfishness that I drove into the permafrost of obligation and strict scheduling that my life had become.  And I have been selfish in the way I present this blog: whatever comes into my mind, with no rhyme or reason, posting whenever I can and feel like it, following no rules.

Anything else – being read, receiving comments, making friends – has been a surprising and wonderful bonus.

For those who like facts and figures, here are some of the stats which delighted or dismayed me this past year:

  • I have had 10,500 views over the past year.  Many, many more than I ever expected.
  • I have received 1,477 comments (well, OK, probably most of them are mine, replying to your comments) – but it is humbling to find that people take the time not only to read and ‘like’ something, but also to provide such insightful andor supportive comments.
  • I have had visitors from 106 countries – so exciting for a global nomad such as myself! – with the most visitors from the US, then UK, France, Canada, Greece and Germany.
  • My most popular post was certainly not what I expected – the rather snarky, opinionated post entitled Most Overrated Books.  Meanwhile, my poor little anti-Valentine’s Day poem only got one view.  So, should I understand that my readers are hard-nosed realists and critics, with a hidden romantic tremor?

But what these statistics do not show is my gratitude to all of you, who have given me such a wonderful sense of community, who have put up with far too frequent postings followed by long periods of silence, who have stayed with me despite a lack of consistent theme.  It’s been a wonderful first year of blogging, and thank you for making it just that!

ThankYou

 

 

Holiday Haikus

Snowy landscapeSilver mother-tongue:

winter nights are still too short

to share you with friends.

 

If you must pass too:

let the murmur of the snow

be your only guide.

 

Our Falcon-hut

hugs its icy green mantle

closer to its heart.

 

Shrill squawks of delight

our boys, your boys: who can tell?

Bundled-up snowmen.

 

If laughter ceases,

what is left? Bring more mulled wine!

Games room rings with us.

 

Inside the prison,

outside of the storm,

I am laughing.

 

I’ve Lost My Poetry Book

I’ve lost my poetry notebook.

That slender scribbler with blue and white boats on the cover

fitting instantly in pockets

unobtrusive on nighttables

familiar with coffee shops and handbags, desks and grassy mound,

alert and keen

it waited for flighty inspiration.

I’ve lost the mad jottings,

the crossing out, the changes,

synonyms in endless lists,

invented words mocked by their conservative neighbours.

 

I’ve lost my mind

my moment of respite

my calm in eye of storm

the grips that hold me onto life.

 

And in the world I know

nothing is ever fully replaceable.

Poems That Mean the World to Me

There are two poems that I would keep under my pillow if I were in the habit of doing that.  As it is, I have them pinned to the noticeboard in my study and below are my favourite fragments from them.  They seem to speak my words, my thoughts, my heart (but so much better than I ever could).  The first one I discovered a long time ago, as a teenager; the second one I came across only a few months ago, but it sparked my creative renaissance. The sentiments seem to lie at opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, we all have contradictions within ourselves, don’t we?

You said: ‘I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,

find another city better than this one’.

[…]

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.

This city will always pursue you.

You’ll walk the same streets, grow old

int he same neighbourhoods, turn grey in these same houses.

You’ll always end up in this city.  Don’t hope for things elsewhere:

there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.

Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,

you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

(C.P. Cavafy)

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
If they say we should get together.
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

(Naomi Shihab Nye)