Saturday, 27 June 2009

Note to self: BREATHE!

There are situations which require such notes: Agreeing to read one's poems in public is one of them. I'd put my name down simply because the opportunity came my way - I wouldn't have dared search it out. It felt like a mad and sweaty thing to start with but when the day arrived it just felt right. A beginners' event at the local library, with a small and eager audience - such a gentle start.
There's something strange, for a visual artist, about being present with one's work and not just letting it stand in/speak for you. But as with a piece of art a poem only comes full circle when it's out in the world.
As I read it took a little while to find and trust my voice, to let myself be guided by the poems' sounds and rhythms, away from fears about failing, falling short (and being heckled - are there poetic hecklers?), but once I got there I didn't want to stop.
The days after: Fatigue loomed like an ugly ogre and with grey felt hands smothered everything. Everything. It seemed almost impossible that this was me too, this exhausted uncoordinated bundle of flesh and bones and frazzled brains. Slowly emerging again, as you can see.
I had a little toe out in the world!!!

Image: Bittersweets (wrapped poems)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Offering (3)

My body is just tired, but my brain is tired and buzzing, if that makes sense. Aunt Frieda is stalking me, I guess she wants a poem that does her justice.
As I've been told a couple of times that in my poems I am often not sparing enough with my words I took my sheet to the garden, sat in the sun and crossed words out with my thickest black marker. And again and again. Didn't leave me with a new whole poem but lots of little floating poem-clouds. These are my favourites - each of them could be a whole story. They're almost like titles for pieces of art.
Oh, and Tante Frieda's sister is here too.

girls in dresses
as blotting paper

I realise that something different is starting to interest me here. These lines are not so much about being spoken, I want them to be read, individually, and evoke images silently.
left only my favourite

Monday, 15 June 2009

Offering (2)

Just not up to making work yet but editing poems and preparing to read some out in a small group. This will be my first time, terror of terrors, but feels right. Need to air my poems. The waiting game was an exercise for my poetry-course a while ago (first attempt at writing a sonnet, which I enjoyed very much); this one here is the revised version of my Tante Frieda-poem which some of you may remember. I've rewritten it heavily but feel rather adrift as my course is over, alas, and it's again rather wordy, even if 'crafted' with more attention to its sound and music. I wished TF was still around, I'd like to ask her lots of questions. A piece of crocheting will grow from this, I think, first stitches maid (made!). Feedback welcome.

Tante Frieda

The last room on the right, opposite chapel, is hers,
her last room, where she waits in state,
hatted and girdled, hair teeming with pins.
Her crumpled face crackles with mischief.
She is older than the century, erstwhile Rapunzel
who had not known to grow her hair.
Hand-me-down air clings from mother-dear -
a prayer under every breath
and her daughters' dresses stiff as blotting paper.

Frieda, five feet tall, taught and enthralled
boys in their teens. Happy times
and best of times for being out of step:
she was removed from school when she refused
to toe the F├╝hrer’s line. Much of her life though
she stowed away, homing in mothed skin,
counting beads and her heart on a string.
She sailed dreams trailing shaggy wings,
and when finally laid up, without guard or girdle,
kept her handbag in bed with her, open,
spilling regret like teeth from an old mouth.

To me she was the kindly crone from my fairytales,
born old, hands packed with plenty, ready
to grant wishes to those who dared want.
Postern to yesteryear she sank in her downy bed,
eyes logged with sorrow
that she’d never been kissed.

Friday, 12 June 2009


The waiting game (Clytaemnestra)

Take one who weaves with measured industry a web
that cannot hold her grief. She finds relief
in hating, tracing her loss in warp and weft,
stretching her rage as cord on cord unreels.
How fast he dropped his father’s cloak for armour.
If only she’d unstitched his sails, slashed stays,
lopped masts, strap-strained his greed
to hear his name sung.
A girl’s death plumped limp sails!
Instead she spins fast strands, soft-gleaming
in the light like strings of rain, last robe
to stain in hues that are his royal due,
and maps in silver lines a hungry grid,
empty just now, a subtle gift, a trap.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wings of lead

O.k., so I’m still very tired and I can’t get words to fly in formation or stitches to curl around each other, but a book came in the post today and I read aloud a poem I love: Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair In The Moonlight by Galway Kinnell, and something in me surged and something in me sang. Read it too!
In a letter from a German friend I found more treasures: she’d cut out for me from Le Monde photographs of the work of Chiharu Shiota, who I hadn’t heard of before. Her art blows my mind, it is powerful and dark and sensitive, and so evocative. It is of this world and others that we hardly dare dream about. Oh, it makes something in me surge too, but also sink sink sink as the quality of the work and how it stirs and touches and pierces makes me question my own and leaves me doubtful about its (relative) quality. Won’t stop me though. Fingers are twitching, words swimming up from way down deep, an idea may just be forming.