Archives for category: Cape Town
By Markus Kuhn at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Markus Kuhn at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

the people are eating
are wondering
if eating in the morning?

porridge dense in the bowl
raspberries adjoin

a breakfast complete

22/07/2015

On Facebook I follow Elle Korea. I can’t read Korean and I seldom read women’s magazines even in English. Yet, for some reason I find Facebook translations about Korean fashion developments and the latest pretty-boy model intriguing. It’s an enrichment of my experience of contemporary global culture.

Cape Town is a port city and during the later 1980s and early 1990s there were many Koreans connected with the shipping industry that passed through or were in residence. At the time I attended violin lessons with a Korean boy whose father ministered to the sailors. Perhaps we spoke to each other during our lessons, and I remember his name so very clearly, but any recollection of true conversation escapes me. This is odd, as we learnt with the same teachers for nearly six years. I mention this only because the connection is Korea and how one association simply triggers another.

On my Facebook feed a few days ago, Elle Korea posted the most enticing photograph of a simple bowl of porridge supporting a few red raspberries. Of course, it was styled – placed on a dark wooden table-top. To the right was a hand holding a spoon at the ready. (Here be our world ever instagram-able.) Yet the image nourished my desk-bound soul. The muse had sent virtual sustenance.

Food, breakfast in particular and my personal affection for porridge have all featured previously in my oeuvre. It would seem that perhaps – perhaps – this poem heralds the start of new activity, as breakfast does a new day.

For yes, I have not posted fresh work for the last couple of months. Words from Wendy Cope consoled me. (I read them during my tube commute.) She, too, spent months, even years, not writing…

But write the writer must, for without the practise the practitioner is not.

I have another verse ready. I shall post it very soon.

Yours fed by porridge complete,
BeadedQuill


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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By Suzuki Harunobu (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Suzuki Harunobu (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Supportasse Boughs

The blossoms have come!
The blossoms are here.
On parade, white ruffs
of spring’s courtiers.

24/3/2015

Today I present the second of the two poems about spring blossoms. These lines, indeed like those of “March Burst” (posted last week) and many of my ‘sushi’ poems, owes a debt to Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” (1913).

I was in Standard 5, all of twelve years old. We relocated to the school hall while our ordinary classroom was enlarged and converted into a specialist science classroom. (Now that I think about it, this was quite a progressive enterprise for an all girls’ school in 1990s South Africa.)

The hall was dark and echo-ey. On the hall wall, as in the school passages, there were block-mounted reproductions of famous Works of Western Art. I spent many hours staring at a faded, blue-tinged reproduction of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” wondering if the lady in conversation under the black umbrella would ever make it down the riverbank to the water’s edge. Of course, I had spent six years sitting through assemblies and other high day occasions in the hall, yet being taught in this formal space made it more intimate. The back corner of the ceremonial cavern became our classroom and learning nest for half a year.

It was during an English lesson that we sat over photocopies of “In a Station of the Metro” as an introduction to haiku. Years later, with some literature knowledge, I know that this is an unconvincing approximation of a haiku (inasmuch as haiku can even work in the English language and literary tradition) and an example rather of the Imagist poems of the twentieth century. I have also learnt a bit more about Pound’s work and life, which now adds conflicted layers to my adult reading of the poem.

But when I was twelve and I first read the poem, it was just me, the scene in the metro and the vivid image of petal-faces, a visual motif that I realise crops up in my own verse.


‘Supportasse’ is another term for the starched, lace collars worn by courtiers during the Renaissance. Read more about supportasses courtesy of the following links:

http://www.thefashionhistorian.com/2011/11/ruffs.html
https://historyofeuropeanfashion.wordpress.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supportasse

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

By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph of an Edo period work, 18th-19th century Japan by Daderot (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

It was very suspicious
the way that whale
rolled over and opened
its mouth for tips,
then set fireworks
to the water gods
from its blowhole.

Whales have featured in my poetry before. Like sluice gates and bears, whales prefigure as a childhood fascination. In my first or second year of school, we learnt about blue whales. They were enormous yet ate such small food with little effort through their sieve-mouths. Either in conjunction with the curriculum topic or with my family I must have visited the South African Natural History Museum where there was (and still is) the large skeleton of a blue whale. Alongside was a booth in which recordings were played of whales in communication. These creatures had a language, which I could not penetrate. I was in awe.

Southern Right whales come into the sheltered bays around Cape Town to calf. Whale watching is a notable annual event. I still think about a particular train journey from Simon’s Town, past Glencairn, when I saw two majestic whales dancing in the ocean and spouting the fireworks from their blowholes.

So it is that whales crop up every now and then in my musing, in my writing and even in my dreams.

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

Betty's Bay
The tides of
tomorrow
and tomorrow
and the next tomorrow
sweep into crevices of shored shells.
The waves nudge these hollows of yesterday’s habitat

into the barrels of
tomorrow,
tomorrow
and the next tomorrow.
There the shored shells

break with tomorrow,
tomorrow
and another tomorrow dashed
to granules that lip the tideline.

Salted foam seeps this watermark
and in the kelp-laurels sandhoppers dance.

While paging through the anthology of Chinese poems on my bookshelf, I came across a nostalgic poem in which the poet embarks on a journey in his imagination and progresses to reminisce about his favourite landscapes. (The poem was Su Tong-P’o’s Inscribed on a Painting in Wang Ting-Kuo’s Collection Entitled “Misty River and Crowded Peaks”)

He ends the poem,

Returning to your painting, I’m taken by sighs of sad wonder.
I have old friends in those mountains,
	and their poems keep calling me home.(p. 381)

I loved this image of his friends’ poems calling the poet/speaker home. This was the starting point for my poem. Who would I call home with my poetry, if I could?

There is a crescent of beach to which my melancholy imagination often turns. This fragment of strand is in Betty’s Bay, one of my favourite spots in the world. It is in this place that my call home is set.

This beach has also featured in
On a rock amongst rocks
A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea

Betty’s Bay has inspired
Wild Horse Don’t Break
In this place, I eat butternut soup

Su Tong-P’o’s poem is in Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology, translated and edited by David Hinton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2008), pp. 380-381.

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

An old magazine advertisement for a Williams Typewriter courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

An old magazine advertisement for a Williams Typewriter courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

At the beginning of this month I wrote of the bumper crop of archive poems for November. Here are the last few from the files of 2012 and 2013:

A Bequest of Wonder, a poem inspired by a painted banner of Chinese silk, a Chinese artist’s portrait and two detailed Shunga prints.

I do. Do you?, in which all the antics of friends and family at a wedding are recalled.

The Benefits of 320 Kicks, for which I, the poem-writer, executed 320 kicks.

Did you read the post about the poem I’d like on my epigraph? Here I share about the wild horses who fling their thoughts.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books available for preview and purchase. Click on the titles below:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Books_gift_edited

Christmas is less than a month away. There’s still time to order a book of BeadedQuill’s poetry for someone special. Even non-poetry readers love the short and pithy ‘sushi‘ verses.

There is a choice of three titles:

The most recent publication, In the Ocean: a year of poetry offers a bumper 104 poems. Over 52 weeks the poet produced 2 poems a week. This book is a collation of her creative output. There is a verse for everyone in this volume.

Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys is a compilation on love, life and work for today’s modern men and and boys. Carl C, a modern boy himself, says of the collection, “We Modern Boys can be rather boorish and in such a bothering rush. Emily asks of us: pay attention for a while.”

The third title, Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 presents twenty poems that chronicle the poet’s formative decade of travel and learning. Verses originated in cities and rural towns from across Brazil, South Africa, England and Poland. The mystical decade resulted in this collection of observational gems.

All three titles are available for preview and purchase at BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookshop.

Bruce Boyd (C) http://www.thewildones.co.za

Photographer: Bruce Boyd (C) http://www.thewildones.co.za

I love this poem – “Wild Horses Don’t Break” – so very much. To date it is one of the poems I’d be happy to have on my gravestone. Not that I like the idea of being buried in a cramped plot. Fling my ashes to the dunes and the sea!

The wild horses of Kleinmond are not grey/white. Most are brown. That detail was a stroke of artistic license intended to echo the seaside dunes and create the sharp image of white movement through mountain passes. There’s also something mystical about a white horse (or could this be the Celt in me surfacing?).

This post’s accompanying image is of the real wild horses of Kleinmond taken by photographer Bruce Boyd. You can view many beautiful images of Kleinmond’s wild horses in the Wild Ones online gallery. Prints of these images as well as a calendar are also available. Follow updates about the Wild Ones on FacebookA heartfelt thank you to Bruce for generously sharing his work.

Kleinmond, by the way, is a seaside town in the Overstrand, near Cape Town. It neighbours Betty’s Bay, a beautiful stretch of coastline that has inspired a few of my most personal poems:

On a rock amongst rocks
A thousand scientific facts about the sea
A quiet thought also titled In this place, I eat butternut soup

My poem “Bursting art” is quite different in tone. For its simplicity and quietness, it would be another epitaph contender.


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


During the first months of posting on my blog in 2012, I opened this short piece with a reminiscence about the red creepers that draped my undergraduate university during autumn. I went on to comment on the dark evenings that enclose this season in the Northern hemisphere

I tweet much more when I’m in on a chilly autumn evening. Find me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill.
My ramblings may also be found on Facebook: BeadedQuill.
If you prefer paging through a book under a blanket with cocoa at hand, consider one of the titles from my BeadedQuill Bookstore at Blurb.

Illustration details: Cropped and re-tinted image by Jules Grandgagnage (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.