Archives for the month of: March, 2013

SIB_final cover

Our twenties is a time filled with firsts. According to research it is the decade we remember most vividly. Many of us document our experiences, often with the intention of doing something with those journals and emails about our gap years and unrequited crushes. Writer Annwen Elizabeth Evans, now nearing 32, has done just this and distilled her experiences into a first volume of poetry.

Shining in Brightness presents 20 poems written by Evans between the ages of 18 and 30. Evans declares these twelve years, ‘a stretched decade, a mystical decade.’

During this time she travelled, studied and worked abroad. ‘I grew up in a leafy Cape Town suburb. On scholarships I studied in the USA, UK. Then I worked in Europe, Latin America, the Eastern Cape (a province of South Africa).  I now live in leafy North London.’

It is an international experience of ‘quiet suburbia’ that Evans finds particular inspiration. ‘It’s a mileu, the world over, that produced similar versions of me. I don’t think my life is unique. My poems could have been written by any young woman of similar means and opportunity. We went to university. We travelled. We loved and lost. Now we find ourselves sort of grown-up, almost back where we started and reconciling what happened in our twenties.’

Shining in Brightness courageously takes on the project of reconciling youthful experience. Early poems, like ‘To whom it may concern,’ echo a creative timidity and self-consciousness. Through the sets, the poet’s voice grows in confidence, inviting us in poems such as ‘Here is something to marvel at’ and ‘Pavement Walker’ to observe the world with her.

Nicola Slattery’s wistful illustration of a girl aloft on the wings of a blackbird echoes beautifully the volume’s whimsical tone and the metaphor of creativity as a journey.

The volume’s title derives from a poem about a restaurant meal. ‘The poem recounts a prosaic moment, that’s also a numinous communion. The objects and the moment between the diners are frozen in time like a still life.’

In the explanatory essay that accompanies the poems, Evans reveals that the other diner is her father. He passed away in 2009 after a battle with colon cancer and it is to his memory that she dedicates the volume.

Eight years passed from the moment of the meal to the poem’s creation. Evans observes, ‘when it comes to creativity and memory, experiences fly as they will backwards and forwards between seasons.’

This is a sample press release for my recently published first volume of poetry, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS. Do you know of a newsletter, community of readers or similar that might be interested in the work? Post your suggestion as a comment or email (beadedquill@gmail.com).

Follow me on Twitter as I share my journey as a fledgling writer and learn about artistic self-promotion. I’m @BeadedQuill.

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PAVEMENT WALKER –
 

Do not stop for

snowdrops,

they are a

waste of time.

Consult

insufficient

distraction.

Bury in

text.

Hurry in a grey

coat. See not

the fallen gate-

post, a thread

of quiet small-

leafed ivy.

 
 
16/02/2012 19:20

First thoughts for this poem were drafted on a little black Alcatel. I had been given the ‘phone as a freebie on opening an Orange account when I first arrived in the UK. On the evening of these first draft thoughts, I think I was on my way to see the friends whose household features in another of my poems, 118A Creighton Avenue.

“Pavement Walker” reflects a typical weekday evening in a North London suburb when it is repopulated after the workday exodus. The commuters spill onto the pavements from the tube and buses, still bent over their ‘phones and cares.

The original draft mentioned “Consult/ the insufficient Blackberry,” but I removed the brand reference in respect of their copyright. This allowed for a smarter poetic turn, as I could then insert an inter-textual reference to a line from TS Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” See if you can spot the allusion.

“Pavement Walker” serves as the opening poem of my first volume, Shining in Brightness. Positioned as such, it was intended to be both a poetic and thematic entry point into the (sub)urban landscape, which is the setting for much of the work. It also introduces the tone of quiet meditation that qualifies many of the selected poems.

“Pavement Walker” appears in the 94th issue of the South African poetry journal Carapace. You can order copies of Carapace or read more about the journal here.

To preview my first volume of poetry SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012, visit the online bookstore at blurb.co.uk.

Follow my regular tweets on poetry, pavement walking and suburban life. I’m @BeadedQuill.

I was born of poetry

on the underside

where grey makes writing easier

the printed side: too glossy.

I once read that those who buy poetry tend to be middle class, university educated women “of a certain age” (by this, the article implied over 50). Yet whenever I’ve been in Foyle’s on Charing Cross Road, most of the women are next door in the cookbook section and there are one or two corduroy-jacket wearing men at the poetry shelves. At university, those lecturers under whose tutelage I was introduced to Auden, Keats and Donne, were all male.

At the moment I am taken with the work of Charles Bukowski. From the poetry I studied at school during my adolescence, it is Pound’s “At the Station” and Hughes’s “The thought-fox” that still haunt me with their technical craft and sharp imagery.

My own mother is not much into poetry. She trained as a pianist and her interest lies in classical music. It was my father who had an abiding interest in literature and went as far as memorising verse. I write in the accompanying essay to my first volume, Shining in Brightness, about his influence. In fact, I may owe my very existence to poetry.

My mother had attended an ‘am dram’ production, for which my (later) godmother had painted the sets and in which my father played a bumbling, detective’s assistant. During the after party, he wooed my mother with a poem written on the back of Salticrax box.

I was born the following year.

If you would like to follow my regular musings on Twitter, I am @BeadedQuill.

You can order copies of my first volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012, here.

it will be,

until we have scheduled Friday sex

and you neglect to text me;

I start imagining my wedding dress

and stare at baby buggies through shop windows;

Your mother makes lamb moussaka

and I am vegetarian.

Then it will be life.

 

2012

Another poem earmarked for “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys,”  a set in progress for my next volume of poetry.

Preview my first published volume SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 here.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.

to me

there be daffodils, bluebells,

crocuses, forget-me-not

in this English spring-time

rain cold from bluer sunlit skies

showers occasional drop

heavy hail bringing

back snow,

cold sunlight white yet in

blue will bloom green to summer

bluebells

2004, Cambridge

This poem features in my recently published (first) volume of poetry.  I write in my postlude that these less polished older poems offer snapshots of my output as it has moved through its development and offer a glimpse of adolescent whimsy for which I am now a little nostalgic.

The ‘real’ events of this poem happened in mid-summer, yet the artistic license of posing events in an English spring-time breathes freshness and new growth into the emotional sentiments and harks back to the listed flowers of a song we learnt at school, “In an English Country Garden.”  Not likely to be judged a mature echo in the tradition of nature poems, this little thought sprung from youthful infatuation in a medieval university town surrounded by pastoral countryside. There were lots of English flowers; all the very flowers I had read about, sung about, read about in poems. I was giddy on travel on youth, and on current buns eaten under willows on the riverbank.

[Image credit: http://www.silkartist.co.uk/practical.htm]

Click here to preview “Shining in Brightness” my first volume of poetry.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill

Quiet or quick off the mark,

it’s your draw now, cowboy!

At the trough

a whinnow mane

shakes desert dust.

A shutter creaks and midday wanes.

Brass badges rust out here.

This is a poem I wrote in mid-2012. It will be one of about a dozen poems in a set I’m compiling entitled “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.”

The poem that is now “At noon” was spontaneously formulated during, of all things, a Facebook correspondence. On its first public reading, comments on the poem included:

“You do know, sheriff’s badges didn’t rust in the desert? So that’s incorrect.”

“There’s a spelling mistake. That’s not how you spell ‘whinnow.’ Anyway, what’s a ‘whinnow mane’? Such a thing doesn’t exist.”

“I like the sense of desert dust and Spaghetti Westerns that the poem evokes.”

Well, ok.

Blog readers, perhaps you have some thoughts?

If you enjoyed “At noon” visit my first volume of selected poems here.  Follow my comments on modern boys and the wild west of laziness (usually my Saturday mornings) on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.

Today, 7th March, is World Book Day. Is this a day for a species facing extinction? As someone who has created a book, I suppose I should encourage you to go and save a book from extinction. Go and pick a book off a shelf at your library, indie bookstore or your own overfilled shelves. Or at least, order a copy of mine.

Forgive the tone, for in truth I love books. I love how as an adult I can carry one around like a comforter, for I suspect many of us do. Even in this age of digital reading options, some people I know will carry around a choice of volumes on transport with them and those in addition to a few ‘must read’ newspaper articles and supplements. So we go out with these talismans against boredom, those of us with brains that struggle to keep still or who have become arrogant enough to think a stranger’s conversation will probably be uneducated babble and a waste of time. My Father, who would talk to (though not with) anyone, was well known for having a book stuffed in the back pocket of his trousers; my Mum would despair at how this ruined their spines.

At Primary School on a Friday we used to watch old fashioned reel-to-reel movies in the school hall. Usually there were a few cartoon balanced with a couple of Department of Education issues. One week we watched about book care. In the clip, we were shown a book wailing out in its moments of torture: being dropped in a bath, having its spine bent, being written in, having liquid spilled onto it. (What else was there to educate little girls about in late 1980s South Africa?) I took these warnings to heart and endeavoured for many years afterwards to spare the books in my life such agonies.

In our home, books were regarded as precious, except by my Dad who left them lying open on top of the ‘fridge or stuffed ungraciously in-between others in a bookshelf (habits that proved of further irritation to my Mother.) At one point during my growing up, we had twenty-two bookshelves of books, many shelves bulging with many more than one neat row.  My Dad, who littered his volumes around the house, was the one who was always reading. He read while eating, shaving, even walking home from the station. He juggled life with absorbing those volumes and read a great thick volume about the Irish Potato Famine at least three times over in the last few years of his life.

The wonderful habit, which drove us all batty, was that Dad would recount, chapter for chapter, page by page, what he was reading. It was a running audio book (seldom on subjects of our interest) in the household. We all longed for silence and less incessant “Did you know?” Now, of course, we miss it. Even “Anna Karenina” on MP3 download is not the same. Nobody else has the same knack for recounting what they’re reading.

Books can be precious. They can be portals. They certainly were an addition to my childhood home life. However, I believe it is the storytelling – over and above the format – that warrants celebration. So, yes, go and support your local library, the indie bookstore, dig out an unread volume from your shelf, but add a story to it. Write it, tell it, leave it on a voicemail. Give that story to someone else. Love a book, sure; just enlarge the stories that they carry and share the love with another person.

(Image credit: “A Young Girl Reading” (c. 1770) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. A copy of this painting hung next to the window in the old, attic library of my Primary School.)

Dante’s Barmaids

 

Of nymphs, I write for money;
On canvas, there they dance.
“Champagne,”
they laugh, in corsets corked
with bubbles popping out.

 

This poem was inspired by a detail from “Inferno,” a painting by contemporary Swedish artist Per-Inge Isheden. “Inferno” is a portrait of the nineteenth-century Swedish playwright, literary luminary and painter August Strindberg (1849 – 1912).

You can view more of Isheden’s absorbing paintings here and you can follow him on Facebook. With thanks to Isheden for allowing me to reproduce this detail and reference his work.

Did you enjoy my poem? Would you like to read some more? Preview my first volume of selected poems.  And don’t forget to follow my adventures with Jaegerbombs, barmaids and literary luminosity on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.