Dad: Look at this poem - what do you think?
Me: I think it's about love.
Mum: Poet emerges from fish?
Brother: What shape was Keats' DNA?
Me: A troubled Felix.
I wasn't going to write a post this week.
It's been another week of frustration. Trying to fix the gas boiler - the hassle, the expense, the lack of resolution - 'a new one is a better option' - yes, if I happened to have that kind of money, which I don't. And then seeing what not having it working has done to the electricity bill which has just come in.
And then trying to get a doctor's appointment, and a hospital appointment, and medicines, and any kind of comprehension of the stress that's causing.
But then, I thought, as I'm already fuming, I'd write something about how annoying some tweets and posts are when it comes to poetry. Don't get me wrong - there are some open discussions about poetry - where people are genuinely asking for ideas, and discussions about a poem or a pamphlet which accept their subjectivity, and/or are descriptive rather than judgmental. And there are really supportive people out there too.
But the ones that make me angry are the ones where people don't just say what they think. They say, or imply very strongly, that they're right, and therefore everyone else is wrong. You don't like something - fine. Don't tell me I shouldn't like it. And vice versa. You don't think the form of the poem is right - fine. That's your opinion. It doesn't make it a fact. And so on.
It's hard enough for people to put their work out into the world, or to try to connect, without being told that what they've said or done is wrong, when what is really the case is that one person's opinion differs from another's. Some things are facts. Some are just opinions. I wish people would remember that. And be kinder.
There are two worlds, it would seem. There is the bigger world where all the news is bad, on a scale that we struggle to comprehend, let alone know what to do about, except protest. And there is the smaller world which is our individual life and the lives of those closest to us. And we struggle to deal with that too. And poetry takes on those struggles.
The struggles themselves are evoked, but always too, it seems, the clutching at something that could give hope. And those straws that are clutched at seem to be the little things - the touch of a hand, the texture of a rock, the sound of a bell, the smell and taste of food, the colours of a flower... so many possibilities.
But even these are ambivalent - because it can be the last touch of a hand, a rock that cuts, the bell that tolls, the food from a homeland long lost, a flower that is dying...
The daily rituals that provide some comfort can at the same time remind us of someone who is no longer with us to share those rituals. And nature, which everyone seems to turn to (or are, at least, encouraged to turn to), likewise holds sorrow as well as joy - the sea we used to walk to together, the erosion and destruction...
But so rarely does a poem seem to hold no hope. Despite the struggle, the feeling of powerlessness to change things, the losses, the poet seems to need something to hold onto - the moments, the little things that matter.
And when I'm trying to find something to hold onto:
blackbird's song at dawn
blackbird's song at dusk
But even then...
You worry about what you've said to them,
then you wonder if they worry about what you've said to them,
then you worry about what they've said to you,
then you wonder if they worry about what they've said to you.
Then, years later, out of the blue,
they tell you they forgive you
for something you don't remember
you'd said to them.
Then, later still, you realise
you didn't tell them that you don't forgive them
for the things they don't remember
they'd said to you.
tore off its petals,
the pink and purple
cut to white,
the morning sun
and when night came
had lost their reflections.
First published by Fly on the Wall Press
Do you think this poem stands on its own (with title), or does it need a footnote with background info? Is there enough in the poem itself, or should there be more? I often wonder. It was published as is.
It's that time of year again.
Thinking about what might work for me.
Knowing what you want to do and doing it - commitment, persistence, courage, resilience...are things I admire but haven't always managed.
I write - have written - a lot. Sometimes poetry, sometimes fiction, sometimes creative nonfiction... I want to say what's in my mind. I want to tell others about it - sometimes.
I've talked about wanting to connect, and have belatedly discovered Kae Tempest's 'On Connection' which says so much of how I feel - and says it incredibly well.
There is more than one way to connect - Kae Tempest not only talks about it, but demonstrates it through their different forms of creative connection. And I want to do that too, in my own way.
I actually decided quite a while back what I wanted to do next - which is half the battle. And I've done the work - commitment, persistence. I'm just not sure I have the courage or resilience to let it out into the world. But I do want to connect, so...
Let's see if that works for me in the new year.