Archives for posts with tag: ordinary life of a writer
Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
At interval their drinks order’s laid out.

Atop the bar, an isle in the crowd,
a row of champagne bottles direct their corks:
To a man with an eye-patch who conducts
with a dress ring of diamanté.

At a prom pouffe black dress
brought to taste in a cinch, by a double C.
For the camp contrapposto at ease with a
whisper at the silver ice-bucket.

Mon cherie, you should have been here
on opening night when everyone…
He leant over into the gold drops
dingling and weighing from her ears.

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
See at interval their drinks order’s laid out?

They’re terribly civilised at the opera, darling,
as beautiful people are.
Only beautiful people, darling,
populate this muse’s arena.

An elderly one strolls out on the terrace, wears a skullcap
to keep warm where one there was hair.

Inside champagne corks from the glittering bar
aim at the gossip and theatrical flares.
For in Covent Garden, darling, even the Christmas lights declare
All the beautiful people, darling, are this side of the square.


Last Thursday I attended a triple bill of contemporary ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This little verse unfolded as I indulged in some people watching during the two intervals.

Yes, there really was a man wearing an eye-patch waving his diamanté dress ring. In fact, at one point I thought there was more theatricality in the audience than on the stage.

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 Wikimedia Commons. This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years. Contributor: Voyager.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Contributor: Voyager. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Interestinggg, my muse of the nimble-feet
that you decided to delete
the last cord of our communication:
a cue of ‘moving on’ or sullen irritation?

Interestinggg, my fascination locus,
that whatever swung your focus
– “in some shit” you did mention –
erased your previous courteous attention.

You didn’t say good-bye; you neglected an adieu.
You think the alliance is yours to abjure?
Time knows, you were in London for one purpose:
to serve then, as now, as subject of my verse.


Be wary of befriending any writer, poet, songwriter, artist or playwright. We are bound by the Faustian deal of creative work to turn life experiences into art. This can be awkward if you decide to no longer be on speaking terms with us.

On the plus side, you may find yourself immortalised in ways you’d never have imagined.

Realise that copyright also remains with the artist.

Consider yourself warned.

T: @BeadedQuill
F: BeadedQuill
Books by BeadedQuill

Poems inspired by sea creatures

This poem about scales is a mash-up of ideas about old flames and red herrings. Strangely, yesterday I also wrote about sea creatures. In ‘New ink cartridges‘ I paired cephalopods with writing in black ink.

The image of fish scales is courtesy of Wikicommons Media and photographed by Rajesh danji. View the original image here. You can view Rajesh’s work on his photo blog, Banglore Photo Daily.

SSA40433

Looking Back at Cuttings and Proteas: a log entry about growth and development

Two years and 217 posts ago the BeadedQuill blog was born. On 15th June 2013, after decades of hiding my fiction writing in notebooks, I decided to share it with the wider world. To my 123 signed-up blog followers, I say a thank you. To my 659 Twitter followers and 24 Facebook followers, I also say thank you. I hope you derive some pleasure from my ramblings. To my other readers and supporters, I send appreciation across the cyber-sphere. To those of you who have purchased my work, long life and good health to you! Some of the profits will go into my National Insurance contribution.

Since last year, I have published two books, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and In the Ocean: a year of poetry. These books incorporate 129 poems written between April 2013 and April 2014. In the last 6 weeks I have posted a further 9 “fresh” poems. Since starting this blog in 2012, the grand total therefore stands at three available titles and 158 poems written by me out there in the world (and possibly a few rogue ones in letters and on scraps of paper). I mention all this as it has been said, “What can be measured can be assessed”. Productivity for April 2013 – 2014 stood at a poem every 2.8 days.

I’ll spare you the productivity tally for blog postings, but will say that being accountable to a public readership compels me to produce copy. This in itself has been a valuable working method that helped with producing articles and the two long-form projects on which I am currently working. (Spoiler: a potential novel and a non-fiction book about travel.)

I continue to work on brand BeadedQuill. This coming year I would really like to focus on matters such as ‘income stream’ and ‘product development’, ‘marketing’ and ‘audience/market development’. To be honest, these topics tire and frighten me a little. At present, I just want to write and practise (plus a bit of Bachata thrown in for diversion).  The business plan, currently a collection of scribbled notes and mind-maps, needs to be formalised.

In the year ahead, I must once again look into the following: journal submissions, the possibility of securing a literary agent, more readings and public appearances. I need to travel! (Buenos Aires for a tango holiday, ideally.) A change of landscape and diversion will recharge me, I believe. I’ve considered investigating doctoral research in creative practice.

This time last year I was in excellent health, after recovering fully from a nasty turn in 2012. This year, I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, I experienced a little “flare” (the doctor’s poetic take on the matter) about four weeks ago. A glut of corticosteroids is bringing me ‘round, with a journey into highways of insomnia, mild hallucination (and hearing things), emotional intensity and a pervading drug-induced buzz. On occasions like this, the every two steps forward on the health journey seem undermined by the five steps back. Nonetheless, I pick myself up and go back to start.

“Zen mind, beginner’s mind is apparently a desired state for the eternal student. Encounter moments and activity as though for the first time. In this way you will let it teach you.” I wrote this as the opening of my very first post. This is still such a challenging approach. When your efforts seem to show progress, this provides direction and solace. I don’t want to keep going back to start – with The Writing or with health, or with any other number of circumstances of my life. It is nice to feel as though I’m building something.

To counter beginner’s despair, I say to myself, “There must be something redemptive here.” In addition to the number crunching at the opening, I am pleased to acknowledge that another year later –indeed, three years and seven months after my first conscious day of applying pen to paper – I am still engaged in the labour of Being A Writer.

Since my first post, I have also figured out how to insert a link to my Twitter account.

Another illustrative gem from the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Another illustrative gem courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury. 

tonight I’m gonna feed myself right 
from a bag
with apples 
and the thrill of eager walnuttes 
that press the beetroot neat 
sliced nice 
over rocket-watercress-spinach leaves 
stalks ‘n all
spring-water washed

Eating right is important for an artist. Even Ella Fitzegerald and Louis Armstrong advocate this in ‘Frim Fram Sauce’.

In truth, though, I am fish cakes and rye bread kinda girl. That’s why I like a bit of salad with mackerel.

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

Escucha

My new muse 
is light in his visits,
is late,
never calls,
smiles his cheek,
tells me nothing.
So I invent 
everything.

My new muse
wears white-soled trainers
and a St. Christopher tucked against 
the tattoo, never seen in full.
When the night begins, 
the muse’s t-shirt smells of clean laundry.

My new muse
is an impish sprite.
He wears his hair
in spikes,
is light on his feet.

He’ll offer 4 minutes to Prince Royce,
“escucha las palabras”
but I wear too much clothing 
and worry about accurate footwork.

In the dance,
the muse
is patient with the serious poet.
He smiles a thank-you,
lets go,
leaves the floor,
leaves me turned,
shares nothing.
So I fabricate
the poem.


This poem marks the final work of my 104 project. I set about to write two poems a week for 52 weeks, to total 104 poems across a year. The aim of this endeavour was simply to produce on a regular basis. Irrespective of quality, subject matter, tone, style or artistic investment, the resulting works would be allocated to the 104 project and posted on this blog.

The creative burnout I experienced at the end of February, after a solid month of posting work, was unexpected. Production seemed to be on such a high. Another learning curve has been the resistance to completion. I have wrestled with this over the last couple of weeks.

In truth, during this time I have written more than the two poems required to complete the count. I have judged some of the work too personal or inadequate to post, thereby ignoring the very rules established at the beginning. Each of these recent poems fell short. It was not my intention to have the project end on an unceremonious note. None of them deserved to be The Last Poem.

All in all, these 104 poems (plus the 25 that were siphoned off for Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys) were not the sorts of poems I had intended should fill a book. It was my intention to explore grand themes of ars poetica, politics, justice and humanity. It felt time to explore the wide, broad, deep, conflicted, enduring state of the world.

Instead, my writing inevitably turns to examine the minutiae. Much of this last year’s work presents daily concerns of an ordinary suburban life. There are the quandaries of emotion and soul, work and provision, grocery shopping and living in rented accommodation.

130+ poems later, I am tired. It would also seem I cannot count, for not only did I recalibrated the mark as 102 on Monday, I have also counted 107 poems posted since last year. I have swum in a sea of poems and I am weary.

Truly, it has started to feel as though the muse has left me.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will already know about my current interest in Bachata, a dance style from the Dominican Republic. I have now had all of eight lessons and this last Saturday attended my first open dance party.

In this inspiration dearth, I think the muse has met me on the dance floor.

The poems of the 104 project will be compiled into a book. This will be my third since February last year. Subscribe (see tab below right), or follow on Twitter or Facebook for updates.

My other titles, available for preview and purchase via Blurb.co.uk, are Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and Shining in Brightness.

Image

The poet wants
new curtains, please.
Yellow and white, in a gingham print
of medium squares; lined in white cotton. The light 
will stream through across the room
and catch the duvet on the bed in a stroke of 
sunny warmth,
The poet wants
new curtains, please.
New ones that don’t 
slump from hooks 
that snapped long before
the poet moved into this little rented room.

The poet wants 
a clean carpet. One without
an encroaching margin of
London grime
which the bristled hoover 
only tickles each week.
The poet would prefer
poetry to flutter down 
as easily as blossom-petal confetti
spread pink on the pavement 
near Summerlee Avenue.

The poet wants
more travel and 
less frozen broccoli. 


At the beginning of April, the spring bloom, preluded by daffodils, was joined by red tulips, forget-me-nots and bouffant trees in blossom. With the sunnier days, the return of nature’s colour and the chatty birds, I started to feel restless. It was time to shed the cabin-time of winter. Some have been turning soil in their gardens. I have turned to cleaning out my rented room and allocated kitchen cupboards.

The food I was eating annoyed me. I was sick of my neighbourhood. Trying to write the last poems for the 102 project was an irritation. Above all, I developed an intense dislike of the curtains in my rented room.

I have yet to solve the curtain situation. A few charity shop visits and the occasional Freecycle search have not yet yielded any finds. In the interim, there’s a flowering Easter cactus on the chest of drawers next to my bed. And I have done away with the dust-covered, wicker light-shade that cast a strange cross-hatch shadow over the walls at night. My new shade looks like a large, light-emitting pink macaroon. Delicious!


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

This poem is based on the day in 2012 when I finally took the plunge and bought a laptop in London. The incessant “£299 on Strand” echoes my personal obsession with the cost of things, which I really am trying to transcend in 2014 (…both the cost of things and the obsession). This close attention to price minutiae has proved fruitful for writing, though. The tallying has found it’s way into other verses: At the moment £2 and Now here is something to marvel at…

While my favourite blend of coffee is still £2,30 at my local Sainsbury’s, fortunately soya milk is back at 59p. My palate has had enough of sultanas, so now I bypass that shelf. More recently I’ve been into dates with my morning oats. Waitrose does a 250g bag for 99p and my local Cypriot greengrocer offers two trays for £1.

Responsible. Spring cleaning. Light-bulb.

In mid-January 2013 I wrote about the ordinary routine of a quiet creative. I wrote about the things I accomplished during a week and the chores left undone. “The hooded empty eye-socket of the desk-lamp stares at me. A year since moving in, it still needs a light-bulb. ”

Since writing that post, the bulbless light has been in a cupboard. After nearly two years, I had finally felt I could spare the cash (all £2,29 for the two 60W bulbs) and make the commitment. Today was the day I bought a bulb! I screwed in this symbolic purchase.

And then – tada! – the light didn’t switch on.

This was meant to be a home-making triumph. How could I have erred in something as simple as putting in a light-bulb? I stared at the dead, bulb-eyed light in woe.

Things are always easier when you have knowledgeable friends. A friend versed in DIY had come come over today to fix two collapsed drawer-runners and a doorknob which had come unstuck.

“Oh, it’s probably the fuse.”

My friend was now excited, “While I’m here, I can have a look at that, too.”

He was  enthusiasm for the new found problem diffused my disappointment. He disappeared to the local hardware and knick-knacks haven to find a replacement.

This lamp still protrudes like some sort of space-eye on my desk.  Now it’s an eye that’s finally emitting light.