Archives for posts with tag: nursery rhymes

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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

256px-Jack_and_Jill

Image attribution: Sue Clark (Flickr: Jack and Jill) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This time last year I revisited a poem based on the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme. This version was a shortened version of the ‘Tumbling After‘ I had written the previous December.

Both versions veer towards the same scene: Jill watching Jack from afar and awaiting his delivery. Although not true to the nursery rhyme’s narrative, I fabricated my own thematic direction. I wanted to evoke a pastoral world in which young people worked in particular gendered realms and were awakening to an adolescent sexuality. So I placed Jill in the kitchen baking bread and Jack outside in the field hoeing and on the hill collecting water.

If you’re curious about the original nursery rhyme you might find the Wikipedia write up interesting. I stumbled across it while preparing this post. A further link was this handy visualization of the rhyme. Perhaps you’ll have as much fun as I did playing with the graphic display options.

Both versions of ‘Tumbling After’ are included in my book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.

Over here on the hill

I try to drop the pail.

In the valley

you scythe the bending wheat.
 

When the grain is ground to flour,

you will carry it in a sack to my kitchen.

There on the table

kneaded under the heel of my hand

 

I’ll remember the autumn, Jack

when you brought in the hay.

Now, come and eat of the loaf while it’s warm.

In December last year I posted a longer version of this poem. I returned to the material and experimented with distillation. Which version do you prefer? Why?

And what do you think of the nursery rhyme reference?

“Tumbling After” is another poem earmarked for my forthcoming set, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys. If you enjoyed this piece, you may enjoy my first volume of poetry: SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @Beaded Quill. I tweet regularly about writing and working with words. Occasionally, I mention a good loaf of bread.