Archives for posts with tag: success
Chess gameboard.

By Levente Fulop from Brno, Czech Republic (The King’s Game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve always wished
to be expert at chess,
but I overthink
every move and
lose my pawns
and queen in the
oldest, quickest
thrashing in the book.

I have a knack for completely overthinking things. The reference in this short verse reminds me of a line from “Escucha.” During the dance, the poet/narrator “[worries] too much about accurate footwork.”

Both poems propose that striving doesn’t always fare well for the perfectionist. In “Escucha” the dance partner, even though he employs patience, “shares nothing” and departs. In this poem, the opponent beats the player/narrator at speed and without mercy.

Chess also features in an earlier poem, “I told her.”

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

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

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop., a vintage image treasury.

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Today I present two poems from the archive –

Now here is something to marvel at… (posted in 2012)
and
Is it worth it? (posted in 2013)

Both poems tackle the theme of worldly aspirations and success. In “Now here…” the concerns of juggling a shoestring budget are interrupted by observations of life’s ordinary marvels and man’s urban success (the Gherkin).

Is it worth it?” uses the image of a well-kept lawn as the metaphor for reigned-in success. Grass is that something else that reaches from the earth and applauds the expansive blue of sky. It exists as a blade of grass merely being for being’s own sake. When the grass has once again reached an unruly height, the lawnmower returns to cut it down.

I explain in the 2013 post that “Is it worth it?” was a based on an earlier short poem I thought I had mislaid. That poem, about prawns and trekking up a London hill, later reappeared.

Success, achievement and priorities have also featured in these poems

Highest Priority
How do you make a dream come true?
A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
The Character Building
926 breathless accomplishments


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 from The Delineator magazine, Nov. 1891 via the Old Design Shop.

Image from the November 1891 issue of The Delineator magazine via The Old Design Shop.

November marks an anniversary month for this blog for it was in November 2012 that I started posting regularly. Looking back at the poems posted last year (Nov. 2013), I’m pleased to report that the month’s archive crop is a particularly good one. November seems to be a good month. Perhaps it’s an echo of all the NaNoWriMo productivity. Perhaps it’s the season for creative harvest. Stay posted.

From the archive, today I present “At the right age“. This poem touches on the themes of success, life choices, the current changing social strata-education-work climate and the frustrations of being a young person in the contemporary post-Industrial world.

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

Illustration courtesy of the vintage image treasury that is the Old Design Shop.

Thank you for signing up
for your HP daily updates.
Each day we reveal
your most important task.

Before you had this service,
words and deeds you left
undone, passed over
in your routine haste.

Today’s commission
is to assist a woman lost
on Highgate Hill. She clutches
a page with the address.

These are your clues.
Seek out the rest.


Two sources overlap as inspiration for today’s verse. Firstly, I’ve been invited by a friend to participate in Poem A Day October. (For details and to sign up click here.) Today’s prompt suggests, “write about a technology that doesn’t exist yet”.

I’ve often wondered how you should know what might be your most important deed for that day. Should you invest particular energy into a work-related assignment or stop to help a stranger on the street? Is it that moment when you arrive home frazzled, commute-battered and hungry when you’re called on to exhibit patience with a family member or housemate? Is it the decision to do press-ups before bed and pass on cake? To help with such decision quandaries, I’ve wondered if it might be possible to have updates sent to one. In the days gone by, I fantasized about discovering a guiding note in an envelope under my pillow. Nowadays, an email or text or other similar message (whatsapp, FB message) would suffice. All we need is the service rendered through a communication channel. In fairness, though, this isn’t really ‘a technology’, but perhaps it could draw on science. Maybe someone could work out an algorithm to attune each person’s Highest Priority task.

The second source for today’s verse is a study about which I read. (I’m trying to recall the book. It was possibly a title about human habit and behaviour.) In this study a group of pastors in training were asked to prepare a sermon on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). They were then sent to a second venue where they were to deliver the sermon at a particular time. En route, ‘a stranger in need’ was placed on their path. Almost none of the pastors stopped to help. The conclusion for this behaviour was that when people are in a hurry and focused on upholding a time-bound commitment they are less attuned to others around them and certainly do not feel at liberty to help.

I too have fallen into this pattern. Many a person in need and distress I’ve passed by, sneered at, dismissed and judged, especially when I am harried and going someplace. Sometimes I wonder, was that moment possibly my true task for the day? If only I had some guidance that could reassure me, if you help this person and are 15 minutes late for the next thing, it will be ok.

However, finding yourself waylead and not being on time are the hallmarks of somebody who most certainly does not have their priorities in order.

Then there is the other matter that sometimes I am just sceptical about helping. But that could be a verse topic for another occasion.

(P.S. I am aware of the tautology of ‘highest priority’. In the poem the acronym serves a double purpose (Highest Priority > Higher Power). The tautology also references the commonplace usage of the expression to mean the item that is absolutely at the top of one’s list of things to do.)

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

People start to ask questions

they really have no right

to pose

 

At a point, they expect you to be

studying.

Let it be known: a non-graduate works shifts

and packs plastic bags.

 

Since 2008, so do graduates with four degrees.

But people will still ask,

What do you do? They mean are you in a Proper Job:

doctor, lawyer, finance something, accountant,

teacher still makes the mark

 

the arts are hobbies

 

Now, have you bought a house? Or looked at a fifth degree?

MBA’s or the property ladder move

aspirations rung for rung

 

Children are also acceptable. But know,

They are a Lifestyle Choice until you are

Settled and wish no longer to do things for yourself.

 

People will narrow their eyes

if you have never travelled,

or are divorced by 32

or have parented children, now nearing the age of ten.

Then you can see them counting back the years.

 

At the considered right age

you should be doing the proper thing,

so people will ask.

 

I am told it is called making conversation.

If you enjoyed the above you may also enjoy the following poems:

The Character Building

A Definition, Notably for the Cloud-Dwelling Artists

Impatience

They also touch on the themes of life choices, the current changing social strata-education-work climate and the frustrations of being a young person in the contemporary post-Industrial world.

My first volume, Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012, presents twenty poems that trace the study, travel and life experiences of my twenties. The book is available for preview and purchase here.

A second volume, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, is forthcoming. Please follow the blog (see sign-up in right-hand corner of the screen) for updates on the content, release date and special subscriber offers.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill. Please follow me.

Success is speaking to the people who matter,
In networking when due. Waste no time on a satyr.
Success is doing what you should
for Work, for Security, for Good.

It’s silence when your speech would rattle,
And indifference to a pointless battle.
Success is deafness to all that’s ugly,
But sympathy if your deed’s seen widely.

It’s loyalty as the price dictates; 
Courage when others might judge, “Flake.” 
It’s patience when the drudge seems worth it,
But for laughter, song or frivolity – surfeit.

Success is found in application, 
financial stability and securing one’s station.
In all of life and nothing less
Is this almighty guidepost that’s called Success.

--

Sometime between the ages of eight and ten, when I had already learnt to read and was in the habit of memorising written material (mostly bible verses for Sunday School and gedigte (poems) for Afrikaans lessons), my paternal Granny gave me a palm-sized laminated card. On the card was printed the motivational poem “Success.” In sing-song iambic quadrameter and neat AA, BB, CC end rhyme the poem sets forth fourteen guidelines that should assist one in living the worthy life. My earnest pre-adolescent self set about memorising these words of wisdom.
In trying to write out the poem, I was certain I had forgotten part of it. So I turned to Google, and found the full piece.

Success
author unknown

Success is speaking words of praise,
In cheering other people’s ways.
In doing just the best you can,
With every task and every plan.
It’s silence when your speech would hurt,

Politeness when your neighbour’s curt.
It’s deafness when the scandal flows,

And sympathy with others’ woes.
It’s loyalty when duty calls,
It’s courage when disaster falls.
It’s patience when the hours are long,

It’s found in laughter and in song.
It’s in the silent time of prayer,

In happiness and in despair.
In all of life and nothing less,
We find the thing we call success

Interestingly, it is the verse about loyalty, courage and patience and the third to last line that I had not recalled. This was my reconstruction of what I thought to be my favourite part of the verse: “It’s found in laughter and in song,/ And in the silent time of prayer,/In all of life and nothing less,/ We find the thing we call Success.” I had erased, “In happiness and in despair.” Or, rather, whenever I have thought of the line, “In all of life and nothing less,” I simultaneously imagine the line in church marriage vows, “In sickness and health,” which serves to encompass all joys, hardships and eventualities of life.

This ennobling little verse, if a verse can ever imbue such upon its reader, resonates with Max Ehrmann’s (1872–1945) poem “Desiderata” (1927), which also lists actions and mindsets through which one could foster a good and worthwhile life. My earnest adolescent self also went through a phase of trying to memorise this work. The favourite line, besides the famous opening (“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”), is “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.”

Yes, a poet would cling to such a line.

Shining in Brightness,” a book of my poems and essays was compiled earlier this year. Preview this first volume at blurb.co.uk
Follow my Twitter musings about the artist’s life, the successful life and the wonder of dried figs. I tweet as @BeadedQuill