Archives for the month of: January, 2015

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BBC Radio 3 is my station of choice. I listen to hours and hours of their programming, both on the clock radio that rests on my bedside chest-of-drawers and on iplayer on my laptop. Sometimes I schedule upcoming programmes or concerts into my diary, or mark catch-ups on my to do list.

During these many hours of ‘classical music’ content it came to my attention that composers across the ages have not been afraid of reworking their own material or borrowing material from others. Now alerted to the regularity of creative recycling, I started looking for it in other forms such as art, dance, theatre and literature.

Re-using material seems more acceptable in music than in the realm of writing. Able writers are assessed on their ability to be continually re-inventive. Originality makes for a proficient writer. This is a demanding attitude. I have since warmed to the approach of the related performing and creative arts. Variation on previous output is a legitimate avenue of creative exploration. In many instances I am intrigued by a product where the artist who created the first version reworks the material in its subsequent expression. These examples have given me courage to consciously mine my own writing for material when I am stuck.

While writing up this last Monday’s post, I was reminded that “Making soup again” was not the first poem I had revised. (Nor was it the first time I had revisited themes or motifs, but such general recurrences are considered more acceptable in written creativity.)

Here are five reworked poems from my portfolio:

1) Two versions of ‘Tumbling After‘, a scene based on the nursery rhyme about Jack and Jill rolling down a hill.
I wrote a longer version and then reworked a shorter version.

2) A card from the postman inspired two poems. Each approached the delivery of pre-Christmas mail from a different point of view.
One imagines the poet-recipient; the other gives voice to the postman.

3) In response to a mislaid poem, I wrote “Is it worth it?
I later found the scrap of paper with the original poem.

4) My poem from 2011 “Jacob’s Dream for crinolined girls” is in many respects the poem that started my recent poetry writing spurt. It was inspired by Dorothea Tanning’s painting Eine Kleine Nachmusik (1943).
In 2014, three years after writing “Jacob’s Dream,” I revisited it in “Exalted thus, we left.”

5) “Making soup again” is a reworking of “In this place I eat butternut soup.”
Food preparation is a recurring motif in my poetry and food features as a metaphor for states of self, relating to others and enacting class or social position.

Visual artists frequently obsess over the same visual motifs and these become their trademarks. Composers are known for a particular sound, even if their music includes phases that are less quintessential. Dancers, singers or actors receive renown for their interpretation of a particular role. I’m intrigued by the creative recycling that might characterize a writer’s broader oeuvre of creative production.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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OldDesignShop_WomanCooking-208x300

Image from the February 1912 issue of Pictorial Review, courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

These days I refuse to sigh
for cooked up futures.
Potatoes from a friend
and a bag of mixed root veg for £1
assure companionship.
This bounty grated, cooked with stock and bay leaves,
will be ladled out for half-a-dozen bowls
dressed up with haricot beans.
The appraising birds perch in the top bare branches,
more interested in other messes.

London kitchen, January 2015

I cook a great deal from scratch; partially because I have the time, mostly because it’s an attempt to stretch my budget. In autumn and winter, soup-making is a regular activity. Last winter (2013/2014), all my soups were restricted to three items from the grocery aisle, and cooked up with either red or brown lentils. This year I have discovered the mixed veg. packets at budget retailers, so I have broadened my ingredients list. Whatever the concoction that results, half is put aside for the freezer. This way I have a couple of flavours on rotation.

Chopping or grating vegetables for soup is both a mindless and thought-encouraging activity. I’ll think about things in my life, and I’ll think about nothing except scooping up the peelings for the bin. The other satisfying bonus of soup is that you can leave it to simmer while you continue with other tasks, like writing.

Today’s poem is a response to “In this place, I eat butternut soup,” written in 2012. You are astute readers, so there is no need for me to hammer home the points of contrast between the two poems. If you would like to share your own observations, please do so in the comments. I would be interested to read them.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Green Lock and Door

By Swastiverma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The lock on the bolt
hung like a coat
flashing its lining
of polished gold.
The weathered door was envious;
Its varnish long sapped
by the sun.

New poems have been a little scarce recently because I have been writing about my dating experiences again. I have yet to find the courage, or fictionalising voice, to share these tales with the general public. Some have said I should; others have cautioned against it. Being a geek, what I have done is turn to research.

From my local library I have borrowed dating memoirs and raunchy books about female sexuality (you know the sort that raises the librarian’s eyebrows to a quiver and the only issue dates to three years back). I’m currently reading a psychologist’s take on infidelity and the difficulties of monogamy. Plus I’ve been on something like 21 dates with 18 men, with another scheduled for 45 minutes from now. For an introvert, this has proved exhausting. Not surprisingly, I have been down with some chest infection, which is now on day 11. I’m not sure if there’s actually any real point to the whole dating enterprise. It has been said that for every 12 ‘nos’ the 13th is a ‘yes.’ I’m also still waiting for that to transpire in my career

Today’s poem is about a polished, gold lock on a weathered door. Perhaps it’s a meditation on my exhaustion and envy of the seemingly solid. Irrespective of any psychoanalytic interpretation, I hope you enjoyed the short verse.


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Image via PixGood. With thanks.

Image via PixGood. With thanks.

For some, the endpoint comes.
For those, it expresses as a deed.
For some, how to paint a Mason jar.
For those, it is possible to attach a stencil with a seasonal theme:

there could be a star for Christmas
or a pumpkin outline for Halloween.
Overhead hums a carrier on the flightpath.
For some freedom comes as the endpoint.

A painted Mason jar for flower arrangements,
home-baked cookies and forgetting this is not
how you imagined it would be.
For some the endpoint is a gun.

I have been ill for the last week or so, the world is going down on all sides and in the sidebar of advertisements on my Facebook account I’ve been targeted by craft videos.

Painted Mason jars, perfect in their new incarnation for displaying flowers on one’s kitchen table, must be the perfect salve to my ailment and the world’s disquiet.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Nyx, Night Goddess by Gustave Moreau (1880)

Gustave Moreau [Public domain], “Nyx, Night Goddess” (1880) via Wikimedia Commons

It was yesterday, on the 6th Jan. coincidentally, when I was glancing over the books in a charity shop that I saw a softback copy of “Nemesis” on the shelf above me.

(As a Hobbit goddess, I sometimes construct the world in terms of the dimensions of where things are in relation to my immediate reach.)

I recalled both this poem and my own reading of the novel a year ago (albeit in a smaller hardback version, borrowed from the library). The poem imagines diary entries transcribed by author Philip Roth as he converses with the ‘moonlit sylph’ who inspires the young woman and love interest in the novel.

All this synchronicity surprised me a little when I came to preparing today’s archive post.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

An old poem about a new room.

To The Valleys‘ offers a similar opening and thwarted journey to domestic encasement.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books