Thursday, 29 September 2011

Watermaid (ii) By Christopher Okigbo

'...So brief her presence-,
match-flare in wind's breath-
so brief with mirrors around me.

the waves distil her:
gold crop
sinking ungathered.'

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

HOOT to stop procrastination

I just flicked onto an article about procrastination as I was frustrated with my tendancy to clean/bake/walk around in circles or write pointless blog entries rather than just get on with my work.

It really said 'how to stop' but I like Hoot better.

Now I am going to hoot like an owl and see if that helps when I don't get on with stuff.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall...

When I had my first child I worried about the baby being born healthy, how I would cope on my own, how to be a good mother. I didn't think about how it would effect my creativity. I didn't give it a mind was too full with anxiety about getting the baby out of my body and then taking care of it.

When it happened the birth was straightforward and looking after her was a joy. I came across this quote by Cyril Connolly a few years ago and read it in a slightly shocked way because my creativity exploded when my baby was born.

Of course I was exhausted most of the time, living on three hours sleep yet I had to write and paint whenever I could. I would sketch the baby as she slept. Write poems as she breastfed, well scribbled them down on a pad balanced on my knee. There are times when I could scream because I am working on a poem or story in a snatched moment when the children are playing outside and they come in and interupt me for the fourteenth time but I just swallow the annoyance and on focus on them for a while, let the poem simmer until I can come back to it.

It means that when I can write there is a frenzied urgency to it, I have to make the most of the time I have. I also want to make my children proud. It's no use thinking 'I want to be a writer' and not do anything about it. So there is a determination to learn new skills and sharpen my talent until I can look at a poem or story, sketch or painting and feel satisfied that it is the best I can do.

So I do not agree with Cyril Connolly's miserable prediction about motherhood and having children in the home. I think having a child transformed me into a more productive artist and I wouldn't exchange it for the peace and quiet of an empty hallway. Although I do wish I had someone to do all the laundry for me.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

can poetry change anything?

Poets for CHANGE

Women are brutally murdered in Guatemala,
Thrown in the gutter and the authorities
Don’t investigate, shrug as if to say well,
It’s only a woman and yes, it is happening now.

Women can be raped by their husbands,
The law says so, in Nigeria, Morocco
Saudi Arabia, so many other places you visit.
It’s only a woman and yes, it is happening now.

Women are married before they are women.
Forced; it is a word filled with fists and bruises
And it is not a historical event. She is sobbing but
It’s only a woman and yes, it is happening now.

Women must be cleansed of their sexual parts,
Pass me that newborn or that young girl, give me
My blunt knife, the clitoris is dangerous; she screams
But it’s only a woman,

And yes, it is happening now.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Iseult Gonne

the thunderclap
did not come
where  where  where

are the rolling clouds,
the slim streak
of white anger?

the wind roars
and disturbs the ears
of the Queen

the candle is lit
and blown out
lit and blown out

you cannot create a life
out of a dead baby
you just can’t do that

dance on the edge
of the ocean
but peace never comes

eyes are always
watching the shape
my shadow makes

if you bruise and
confuse the leveret
the hare will flee

girl twin Peter and boy twin Finnegan

You're not doing it right...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

'I don't know. Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.'

Teddy McArdle

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Autumn by Siegfried Sassoon

October's bellowing anger breaks and cleaves
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves
For battle’s fruitless harvest, and the feud
Of outraged men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown
Along the westering furnace flaring red.
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Autumn, chill and lonely comes

The beginning of autumn;
The sea and fields,
All one same green.

All along this road 
not a single soul – only 
autumn evening comes  

An autumn night;
don't think your life
didn't matter.
Will you turn toward me?
I am lonely, too,
this autumn evening.
- Basho

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Halah by Mazzy Star

Well I think I see another side
Maybe just another light that shines
And I looked over now through the door
And I still belong to no one else
Maybe I hold you to blame
For all the reasons that you left
And close my eyes till I see your surprise
And you're leavin before my time
Baby won't you change your mind?

Surely don't stay long
I'm missing you now
It's like I told you
I'm over you somehow
Before I close the door
I need to hear you say goodbye
Baby won't you change your mind?

I guess that hasn't changed someone
Maybe nobody else could understand
I guess that you believed you are a woman
And that I am someone else's man
But just before I see that you leave
I want you to hold onto things that you said
Baby I wish I were dead

Surely don't stay long
I'm missing you now
It's like I told you
I'm over you somehow
Before I close the door
I need to hear you say goodbye
Baby won't you change your mind?

Sal Paradise wouldn't have got a lift from me...

On the Cautious Road....

then again, maybe he would have

Sunday, 11 September 2011


That day we had got up late,
Hazy with love, your skin
White, your body long and lean.
We were two deer in a clearing
Snatching mouthfuls of grass
Eyes glancing nervously
For the hunter, aware we could,
At any moment, get caught.
Contented, love like a small sun
In our stomachs, we glowed.
Happiness is a poppy, if picked
The petals turn from ethereal
Skin to bruised flesh so
We were slow, not eager
To face September
Daylight and realities.
We slumped on the sofa
Unable to stop the connection
Hand holding, skin stroking.
The TV bleated, you flicked
Over, were you in the kitchen
Making tea when I called you?
Is this real? It was like a movie
We hadn’t brought tickets for.
We sat in silence, watching the
Second plane fly towards the tower.
People fell like flakes of snow
Away from the choking death.
The smoke and dust settled,
What was left? We didn’t know.
Nothing could bloom
In that environment.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Street by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

   'And the stairs were brushed and clean,
   Her shoes paired on the bottom step,
   Each tread marked with the red crescent
   Her bare heels left, fading to the faintest at the top.'

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Eliza and the Bear by Eleanor Rees

Author photo © Dave Wardspacer

If you read this blog you know I love fairy tale influenced poetry and paintings. This collection of poems by Eleanor Rees explores dreamy, fairy tale imagey, night visions and sensual desires. The images are vivid and there is a feeling of urgency and tension in her choice of words that unsettled and intrigued me.

The title poem, 'Eliza and the Bear' appealed to me immediately as I have always adored the fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red and one of my poems is based on Rose Red and her bear lover. It could be said I am fascinated/obsessed by animal/human shapeshifting (I should be working on my dissertation on that very theme right now but instead I am writing this review...!)

Rees uses the refrain of 'I did not know my lover was a bear' to document a series of encounters and contemplations about what that entails. The wild and the domestic, the animal and human depths of love. It is a long poem with seven sections but that is very effective as it feels like an epic tale told around a campfire (with a bear snufflling in the darkness of the trees just outside the ring of light from the fire.) The poem is oustanding and my favourite in the collection. It is dramatic and darkly erotic.

“Three Bears” by Krista Huot

'I did not know my lover was a bear.
I did not know he was on all fours all night
crawling the streets looking for the wilderness.
I did not know he wanted to go
back to woods and harsh brackish skies.
I did not know he wished to go.
He never said
Sweetheart I am a bear I am leaving now.'

video of Eleanor reading 'The Changeling'

you can buy the book here...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Family Romance by Helen Kitson

My friend Jenny Hope gave me this book as a present and I have really enjoyed reading it. I keep going back to it because there are so many vivid characters that I don't tire of reading about them. The quality of Helen Kitson's writing is excellent, she touches upon every aspect of the human condition; grief, love, passion, bitterness, regret and hope and each poem feels authentic, like this is what these people really felt and thought. This is due to the poet's skill. She invented these poems from photographs and snippets of family history. I can really visualise these people and shared their emotions as I read the well crafted poems. The poems about illegitimate children are especially poignant.

Here Helen writes about the collection...

'Sometimes it was a name that sparked an idea for a new poem. Amongst the many Johns and Williams, Marys and Annes, there was the occasional unusual name. One of my favourites is Mellonia Blakeway, b.1784 in the Church Stretton area. I wondered who had decided to give her such a pretty first name. Where had it originated? I learnt that Mellonia was the Roman goddess of bees. Was my Mellonia’s father perhaps a beekeeper? At any rate, the name inspired one of my most joy-filled poems, informed by my own childhood love for Church Stretton –
The sky is pure heaven, blue and gold.
On her tongue, the taste of honey, rich and smooth.
Perhaps I romanticise. My ancestors’ lives were tough, no doubt about it, and many of them couldn't write their own names, let alone read poetry. However historically inaccurate these poems are, through them I have come to love these people. I am proud to be one of them, which is why I called the sequence of poems ‘Ancestor Worship’. Worship is perhaps not quite the right word, though. Respect is nearer the mark. I take my hat off to them, these very ordinary people: my ancestors, my kin.' read more here...


It will be the only surviving photo.
He took her to America and gave her a wooden house,
A burning desert, and his family.

His eyes are intense and glassy,
His prophet's beard hiding most of his face.
Next to him, she scowls.

His hand rests heavily on her leg.
Neither of them wants this touch
But, like others, it seems necessary.

At times she wonders why she came.
She misses autumn, and her mother's cooking.
Marriage is big enough, without all this.

The photograph was her idea,
Something to send back home.
Your home is here, he tells her, missing the point.

His clumsy hand kills her smile.
She won't send the photo, he knows it,
He must have all of her.

They will have ten children
And know nothing but poverty.
Each child American, another heart tie.

Even if she could have seen the future
There was nowhere for her to run.
Endless desert, endless country, roadmaps gone.

She puts the photo with letters that smell of home.
She avoids herself in the mirror,
Refuses to acknowledge the distance, the sea between.

 you can buy it here