Archives for posts with tag: imagination
OldDesignShop_EnvelopeBack1887

Vintage envelope postmarked 1887 courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Today’s piece from the archive is “Without realising it, the postman left a poem.” It was a great delight last year when I composed this poem from the postman’s pre-Christmas visits. This year eight cards have made their way through the door, but I am still waiting for a verse.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books: BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookstore

Advertisements
Muisca_raft_Legend_of_El_Dorado_Offerings_of_gold

Photograph by Andrew Bertram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Operations Meeting, El Dorado always makes me smile because it juxtaposes the mundane with the historical and fantastical. An office meeting, overheard during a morning coffee, is recast in an imaginary Ancient Columbia and overlaid with the myth of El Dorado.

About the photographed Muisca raft: This representation of the initiation of the new Zipa in the lake of Guatavita is a possible source of the legend of El Dorado. It was found in a cave in Pasca, Colombia in 1856, together with many other gold objects. It is 19.5 cm long, 10.1 cm wide and 10.2 cm high. Dated between 1200 and 1500 BC. It is made of an alloy of gold (80%), silver and copper, by using the lost wax method. The cacique in the center is surrounded by attendants and oarsmen. (Text from Wikimedia Commons.)

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

Tulips from A Day in a Child’s Life by Kate Greenaway, c. 1881 and courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

I did not set out to write poetry. I intended to write Novels. And anyway, I am of the view that much superbly written and evocative poetry already exists. The Shadows of Giants loom large. At the moment I have no illusion about even coming close to their kneecaps, never mind shoulders. This time last year I posted “Emulation“, a poem about the finely wrought craft of three (English language) poetry giants.

Emulation” references two poems that had a notable impact on me during my adolescence: Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” and “The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes. (Yes, we studied them at school in our English lessons. Some exposures in life just can’t be helped.) Both poems struck me with the synaesthetic potential of words. To this day, I can still feel those mushrooms mouthing their insidious, hollow-breathed o’s at the world (“So many of us! So many of us!”). That Thought Fox still darts with a hot fox stink across my imagination.

(I had not noted, until reviewing these poems for this post, that both set the scene in a forest. How very archetypal; how very Brothers Grimm.)

“Mushrooms” is referenced via Plath’s famous “Tulips” (1961). I came across “Tulips” when I was older . Although a recognised and fine work, it does not evoke the same nostalgia for me.

The third poet to whom homage is paid is John Donne for his poem “The Flea“. Besides the pleasure of the words, it latched onto my leaning towards the miniature and slightly odd. Perhaps my little poem “An arrangement of Strangers” owes Donne a debt.

I may not (yet) have found myself on the shouders of giants, but I have written nearly 200 poems. 149 of them are available in book format:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry – 104 poems written across a year
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys – 25 poems about work, life and love
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 – 20 poems about loss, love and growing up in quiet suburbia

Please follow me on
Twitter @BeadedQuill
or Facebook BeadedQuill

Image with thanks to "Homes and Garden Journa"l. See http://bit.ly/13ACooj

Image with thanks to “Homes and Garden Journal“.

I suspect that “Screens” is one of those atmospheric poems that evokes interesting images, but by the end of it the reader isn’t quite sure what it was all about.

Here’s how I see it:

The poem sets forward how our days are filled with noise and rushing. Simultaneously we seek escape in parallel realms and our imagination. We seek retreat in our dark and quite moments, in artists’ creations or in times past. In these kingdoms exist magical creatures (green-scaled dragons), conduits to the other side (golden bridges) and crafted beauty (tilted bonsai trunks).

There is a screen that separates these realms. Once one transcends it, one may see the province of imagination – “the far off poem”. The viewing platform, which in sensible understanding should be a stable structure, should ideally be positioned on the super moon. Not only are these lunar occurrences rare, but it is also difficult for most of us ordinary earth dwellers to make our way to the moon.

Screens is a poem about seeking poetry beyond the daily. At the same time, it is a poem about daily things: screens, commuting, traffic, viewing platforms and super moons.

Screens was one of the 104 poems I wrote over a year for my 2×52 project. These poems are collected in the book “In the Ocean: a year of poetry.”

T: @BeadedQuill.
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books available for preview and purchase.

Sunflower courtesy of the Old Design Shop. Illustration by Kate Greenaway on sheet music from c. 1881.

An old favourite revisited, because artists are allowed to have their obsessions. “Exalted thus, we left” is a reworking of a poem from 2011:

I love the Dorothea Tanning painting that spurred the original “Jacob’s Dream for crinolined girls”. When I’m in Tate Modern, I’ll usually try to pop into the Surrealism gallery to gaze at the image, my crinolined protagonists and the yellow angel wrestled down.

The first version of this verse is one of twenty selected poems in Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012.
My other books include In the Ocean: a year of poetry, which came out in last month, and Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.

Find me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill and on Facebook.

This is one of the designs on exhibition at The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (until 25 Aug. 2014), which is on at the Barbican. The photo  is courtesy of Kelly Curtis. http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=14772

This is one of the designs on exhibition at The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (until 25 Aug. 2014), which is on at the Barbican. The image is courtesy of Kelly Curtis.

Last year I wrote this diffuse poem. The setting is the large ice-mass that perhaps once bridged Siberia with North of America. A couple are migrating across this inhospitable realm. Imagine the pair dressed in furs, with all their worldly possessions in tow – tent, working dogs, blankets, food and household items tied to sleds. In the poem they are travelling towards the dragon’s gate. This endpoint motivates the woman with hope; it propels the man through sworn duty and allegiance. Both are so focussed on this outward destination – a gate in all its majestic and architectural wonder – that they are not aware of the small stirrings of life. The “soft pearl” is a growing child who embodies the para-reality of their journey and relationship. In contrast with the gate, a settled and solid structure, the child is something organic that will change and is less definable.

Solutrean Hypothesis” is one of twenty-five poems that feature in my book Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.

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 Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

“Taken Care Of” courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

The 2×52 project developed in April 2013 when I committed to posting two poems a week for a year. I completed my self-made creative challenge this April when I revealed the 104th poem. Next month (June 2014), all the poems will be available in a book at my Blurb bookstore. In the meantime, here are the 104=2×52 poems listed in all their glory! And for your convenience, so that you can click on the titles that pique your interest. Enjoy!

  1. On a rock amongst rocks
  2. Things of the Heart, Told in Quiet #1
  3. £299 from Strand
  4. A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea
  5. Nice Words #1
  6. Benefactor of the Blind
  7. On the Way to Westminster
  8. Solutrean Hypothesis
  9. I don’t work for you (or Modern Frustrations)
  10. red herring
  11. Tarantella (two versions)
  12. Conversation
  13. Pakistan’s Gold
  14. 29oC
  15. An arrangement of strangers
  16. Recycled
  17. Packed Lunches
  18. Tightly Sealed
  19. Another Summer’s Day
  20. Look At
  21. Hairpin (a short poem)
  22. A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
  23. Instructions
  24. Scherzo: Allegro before the Finale
  25. Impatience
  26. Screens
  27. Leo’s Entries
  28. From a Stone
  29. Autumn’s ripened harvest store
  30. The Character Building
  31. An autumn evening in
  32. Preceding seafaring that was not to transpire
  33. The Home Commute
  34. On the declaration of the first day of the Year of Our Light
  35. What we were all thinking
  36. Emulation
  37. Genuine
  38. Stuck
  39. An address from a lectern
  40. Her magical box
  41. Sun Doves
  42. At the right age
  43. Just Punishment
  44. Every morning, because it’s wonderful
  45. Is it worth it?
  46. A Bequest of Wonder
  47. The Benefits of 320 Kicks
  48. I do. Do you?
  49. Five Consequences of Repeated Actions
  50. To the Valleys
  51. supreme ultimate
  52. Operations Meeting, El Dorado
  53. Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
  54. Another drop in this week before Christmas
  55. A quiet night preludes
  56. Let them eat
  57. I learnt
  58. A New Room
  59. Philip’s Log: Entries about my moonlit sylph
  60. Pairings
  61. Conscripted
  62. Bursting Art
  63. Afloat
  64. Would you ever live in Heather Green?
  65. London’s Molten Hour
  66. Two poems about grey
  67. My friend Ellen
  68. Nice words of the moment (from autumn)
  69. Today
  70. Outpourings
  71. She’d read it in books
  72. Tube sketch (one of a few)
  73. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
  74. Near Liverpool Street, under scaffolding
  75. On the occasion of a dinner party in Kennington
  76. Tunnel Days
  77. London. Is it worth it?
  78. At the moment: £2
  79. the currency of sugar
  80. High-end Liquids
  81. Glomerulonephritis
  82. Dying is probably easier than this
  83. The Age Show
  84. Nice words #2
  85. How do you make a dream come true?
  86. Do engineers dream?
  87. Appropriate Recompense
  88. It’s complicated
  89. Every Sign of the Zodiac
  90. Saying it plainly
  91. The Brothers Three
  92. This morning’s request
  93. Recipe
  94. Kindly exit
  95. In the ocean one night
  96. Degas’s Business Card
  97. A small heart panics
  98. Interior holdings
  99. Reviewing the pursuit
  100. Absorbed
  101. Nearing the End
  102. Different Rides
  103. Spring Wants
  104. Escucha

I try to revive a blue whale
with raw eggs from plastic bowls
in different colours
laid out in a wooden fishing boat.
To do this you must put two
or three eggs together in each bowl,
watch their yolks lilt to the tide, then
pour them through the whale’s sieve-like mouth.


This poem is a transcription of a dream I had. The notebook entry of 29/10/12 analyses the stress that probably elicited the scene, “Drowned out by my panic: income! job! career! Aaargh!” Such is the mundane reality that underpins some creative output. I am certain some English teacher in the future will invest the work with a more riveting subliminal meaning.

I have very vivid dreams. Since I was a child, I’ve had vivid dreams. “Afloat”  is another poem based on a nocturnal vision remembered and jotted down. Often my dreams are strong on action, filled with tactility and punctuated with memorable details. Only once I remember hearing music in a dream. When I stayed in South America briefly, I eventually started dreaming in very basic Spanish.

With this poem I conclude my official a Poem a Day for a Month. This bumper month of posts is part of my larger 2×52 project, during which I aim to produce a 104 poems across a year (52 weeks). The idea was to keep writing and producing. Out of 104 poems, some might not be as engaging, some might be readable and a few should, by the law of statistics, must surely be reasonably good. I shall continue to post according to my routine of two poems a week. Sign up to BeadedQuill (see tab in bottom right-hand corner) for these future poems, updates on the aimed for (e)book of the 2×52 project and other news.

Thank you for being part of this month.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

at the door
or retire through the window.
That will suffice.
Better yet, via my ears
make your retreat as swiftly
and in neat compactness
as a ready ball of orange wax
or next time I spit,
roll out over my tongue.
Or next when through my eyeball
I aim a withering look,
consider that the cue
for you to take your leave.

I’ve tried re-working this strange little poem. I wanted to develop the idea of exiting from physical space through architectural entities (doors, windows) and then exiting from internality through bodily orifices. Yes, yes, possibly all very Freudian; Lacanian too, if I had added a mirror in there. Perhaps the window can posit the ramble in a liminal, almost-Lacanian zone.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness

Using washed hands
soft in the palm, 
scoop 
voluptuous, ivory nibs
since stripped of their brown seedcoat.
Blitz briefly
those gently ridged amygdalae
thrown by the precious palmful.
Blitz briefly those sweet, curved kernels.
Using floured hands 
sit finished dumplings on top.

Ah, almonds: sweetmeat
	of the fruit.


I love gathering words, sentences, phrases, formulations and expressions that take my fancy. Two chance readings contributed to this poem – recipe instructions and a definition of almonds as “the sweetmeat of the fruit”.

As I worked on this poem, I remembered that I had written about previously about almonds. The preparation of this fruit features in an earlier poem, “Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” (2008). This poem considers the mythical ‘hedge’ of wild almonds that acted as a boundary for the early Colony at the Cape. An entry in Governor Jan van Riebeeck’s diary dates the construction of the fortification to 1660. (“Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” is one of the selected poems in my first book, Shining in Brightness.) The wild almonds were bitter (apparently an indicator of the cyanide content of the fruit) and had to be “soak’d then peel’d before consum’d”. The poem sets the Dutch colonial settlers, planters of the hedge who dine off ‘fine’ plates, in contrast with the unnamed resident local Khoikhoi population at the Cape who eat these bitter fruits that have to be prepared.

Sweet almonds, either blanched or with their skins, are one of my favourite foods. In times when I was a more flush, they were a welcome snack. Now they are much more precious – sweet, ivory-coloured opals. I like to imagine this is a value more akin to that accorded to them in societies where almonds were more difficult to obtain. Almonds are not opal-shaped. More correctly, they are amygdala; their form rests somewhere between a triangle and an ellipse. It is also from amygdala that the name almond is derived.

(Note the recurrence of palm, which in the poem refers to the cupped, underside of the hand, but of course triggers the homophonic link to palm tree, and the imaginative landscape of such association.)

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Preview my two published books, available as print-on-demand editions:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness