Poetry

First Terrible Poem of 2017

I’m reading a book of poetry right now, and I guess I just couldn’t help myself.

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Valentine’s Poem

This is the poem I wrote for Spuggy and gave him on the morning of our wedding <3

OK, I meant to give it to him then but I forgot because I was so nervous. I gave it to him that night…

From the Bride to the Bridegroom on their Wedding Day

Your bride-to-be’s a scaredy cat. Howay,
Let’s call it what it is, from truth not swerve.
The only saving grace is that, today
My worries may be termed “the bridal nerves”.
The flowers might all wilt, the plates be smashed,
The clocks might change or all the dates be wrong.
I might get down the aisle to find I’ve flashed
Our guests a sight they won’t forget for long.
The bridesmaid might get lost, the rings forgot,
I might get stage fright when I make my vows.
Aye, when you think about it, quite a lot
Might go wrong ‘twixt the honeymoon and now.
I wonder if you know – I’m sure you do –
The one thing I’m not nervous of is you.

In The Bleak Two Rivers – a Wheel of Time poem

Hello again.

If you don’t remember my Thomas Covenant retelling of Twas the Night Before Christmas, then… follow this link and then you will!

As I finished reading the Wheel of Time only this year, I thought it was only fair to celebrate Christmas the Wheel of Time way as well. Without further ado, and again, can’t guarantee that this will make any sense to anyone who hasn’t had the magical Robert Jordan feat. Brandon Sanderson experience of the Wheel of Time… MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Also, sing along!

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A True Story Poem

I’m finally doing my last bit of typing up before NaNoWriMo begins, and I came across a poem I wrote ages ago, or in August or something.

Nothing in particular to recommend – if you want to know my unsolicited rambling thoughts on every book I read, please check out my Twitter – but I am currently reading The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet, by Reif Larsen, which has delighted me by not being tryhard twee, but by being real and genuine and wonderful. I’m not finished yet, and I guess there’s always a chance that it’s going to end with “AND THEN IT WAS ALL A DREAM” or “IT WAS ACTUALLY ALL THE COMA DREAM OF A LITTLE BOY OOOOOOH SPOOOOKY AMIRITE” but so far it is looking rather good. Also, illustrations are class.

OK here’s my poem, based on a true thing that happened when I was getting off the tram after reading too hard.

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Poem about how hot it is #3

It’s finally got hot and muggy again, so it doesn’t feel weird to be writing about the heat. Conflicted hurray!

I haven’t been reading any poetry recently, alas, so no recommendations or opinions. Only prose. So much prose.

When I was writing down the germ of the idea for this poem, I texted Spuggy to ask if he thought it was too pretentious. He said he liked it, but he did also quote this song* at me, so the jury is still out on that one. YOU DECIDE.

I think I might play with this one a lot more, but I also think it’s an easy thing to make too clever-clever. Honestly, sometimes I like it and sometimes I think it’s quite juvenile, but I’m going to post it anyway because I should probably get used to this kind of thing.

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Poem about how hot it is #2

Hello friends.

Not a huge amount of poetry recommendation today, partly because I’m still stuck in the flytrap-sticky, rabbit hole world of Alan Turing and partly because the only other poetry I have read recently is by Adrienne Rich, and it’s not really my thing. In poetry as in prose fiction, I need a bit more of the surreal. I like a blurring of lines. There were lines I liked (“Your silence today is a pond where drowned things live/I want to see raised and brought dripping into the sun.” from IX of her Twenty One Love Poems) but in general it felt like captured moments played straight, rather than tampered with the way Tomas Tranströmer does it.

Maybe there isn’t such a thing as poems I like or dislike, only poems read at the right or wrong times. Who knows.

All I know is that you shouldn’t hold me to any of my lofty opinions when you read part 2 of It’s So Hot, So Very Very Hot.

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Poem about how hot it is #1

It’s been a while. It’s been so long, in fact, that it’s no longer particularly hot in Frankfurt (though it will return to your regularly scheduled 28 degrees this weekend, apparently).

Let’s start with a recommendation of actual good poetry, as I think all these posts should. This is kind of a repeat of a stream of Twitter-consciousness, so bear with me and skip this if you’ve heard it before.

Tomas Tranströmer!

One of the few poets of whom I can say I’ve read pretty much everything he published. It started with a kindly soul lending me The Sorrow Gondola, which I read through in two mad sittings (one standing on a tram). I think I’ve said before how I’m not sure how you’re supposed to read poetry volumes – in binges or savouring each offering like a fine, limited edition truffle. Tranströmer, however, I like to binge on. A while after reading The Sorrow Gondola and being totally mystified (and intrigued) by it, I came to Tranströmer’s New Collected Poems on my much-vaunted reading list. This was while I was in the UK visiting home, after having left my phone in Germany, and the poems which had once been so opaque and weird suddenly became everything. The poems of The Sorrow Gondola are also in New Collected Poems, and when I got to them I read them as though it was for the first time. I was finally in the zone. It all made, if not sense, then feelings and images so vivid they were almost concrete. I was almost in dream-Sweden. I was almost between time. I was almost between dreams and reality, slipped down that crack where so many of Tranströmer’s poems take place (if you can say they have a place).

He has a poem about drawing a piano keyboard on his kitchen table and playing for the neighbours which is so weird it becomes universal. Surreally relateable. Don’t ask me how, but it is.

Highly recommend. Here are ten poems of his to get a feel for him, though you might need more to recalibrate yourself to his wavelength.

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Surprise Poem! and unsurprising recc

So, I finished Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer last night. My initial impressions were unchanged – it’s a great, nuanced, complex story about identity. About how our upbringings shape who we are and who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. It’s about South Africa and how bad things can get, and how hard it is to shake off rotten institutions even with justice and rightness and the best will in the world. it’s about the blame we deserve and the blame we don’t deserve but which belongs to us nevertheless. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve never had this book recommended to me, so I’m recommending it now. I saw a reviewer had said it was a worthy book but with no joy or pleasure in the reading. I have to disagree with that. The writing is beautiful and Rosa Burger’s life is compelling and rich. Though the context in which it is lived is pretty bleak, I wouldn’t say it was a joyless book at all.

And now indulge me in another spontaneous poem, which is infinitely less serious than seminal South African literature.

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Poem – no recc

I only have one more poem to share from this session. After this I’ll no doubt start moving some other old stuff over here though.

No recommendations today, as I just finished Grey and although I appreciated the closure on the series, you can just imagine a terrible stalking experience except the stalker is a billionaire and there you have it: you have experienced Grey. Congratulations.

I have, however, begun reading Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. It’s dense and intense and a very focused read. The difficulty of the language – or rather the obscurity of the sentences – draws you in with that focus, to a world which I believe is (thankfully) unthinkable to most white, Western people of my age, and it makes you think about it. Crazy uncomfortable, but you can’t – mustn’t – look away. More as I progress.

And now for a poem.

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Penultimate Poem and Review

Time to post the second-last of my poetry binge. Try not to be too sad.

Before that though, I have this much-vaunted reading list which is like my actual child right now. I’m never going to get to the end of it. On it go books of films I watch (so Sneak is a reading list KILLER) and the best-known, most prizewinning, or first book by any deceased author I haven’t read yet. That last one is in real time, or else I really would never get to the end of this list. Of course there are exceptions – any book recommended by a friend or anything that just really catches my eye goes down as well.

I mean right now I’m reading EL James’s Grey, so I’m not that much of a book snob, I promise.

But I just wanted to recommend more poetry, because honestly with poetry I just don’t know where to start, and it’s nice to keep a record of the things that I’ve liked. So, through my book list (and haunting the Guardian’s Books section at the slightest hint of boredom) I put down a book by Dermot Healy, called A Fool’s Errand. It’s a book-length poem split into “chapters”, and the theme is a flock of geese migrating from near his Irish home to Greenland and back. I’m glad I started reading it after I came to the end of my poetry-writing spree, because it is good.

The geese scene from TH White’s The Once and Future King was my favourite part of the whole book, and A Fool’s Errand just tapped right back into that scenery for me. Right back into that wet, cold, windy place, and the mysterious ritual of migration. The rising restlessness, the false alarm flights and finally the big lift-off, the amazing journey. Around this you see the geese from all angles, above and below, and Healy was a master of imagery. Birds as orchestra – or orchestra as birds? Simple things like a wind through a house slamming an open door become beautiful things, but always still simple, always just what they are. It’s gorgeous and you should read it.

My own feeble attempt is below, as always. Continue reading