Tag Archives: Poem

#heatonstwaiku

26 Jul

This weekend it’s the Heatons Arts Trail – a bunch of artists in Heaton Moor open their galleries and invite you to look around and, hopefully, buy their work.

Write Out Loud members are supporting the event by tweeting poems.  I’ve written a cycle of 26 haiku  – we call them ‘twaiku’ – about the individual artists, based on the information in the flyer.  I’ll be honest – it’s not my greatest work; but it was fun to do.

I would say check me out at @laughwife and @heatonstwaiku but the first two twaiku I posted have not appeared.  Not that I’m a technept or anything…

If you are an art lovin’ Stopfordian, you should follow the trail.  Details here.  And don’t forget the art gallery

There’s just one annoying thing (no; not the Hub): I have had an earworm all week.  I think ‘Heatons Twaiku’ and I hear ‘Eton Rifles’.  What a Jam!

Found In Translation

21 May

Click on image for source

Well I never!  Or I should say, Beh io mai!

I signed in to my blog to visit all of yours, and discovered a comment which needed approval:

You may be interested to know that we have written a review of the anthology In Protest, 150 Poems for Human Rights: http://www.margutte.com/?p=5629&lang=en
We have also translated some of the poems in Italian, including your poem: http://www.margutte.com/?p=5629

Thanks for your contribution.

Best regards,

Silvia Pio (editor)

That’s the same poem which was read at a memorial meeting for Nelson Mandela, and I learned of it after the event.

It seems it’s not just my kids who are going off having lives of their own.

By the way, I’m chuffed!  I love the idea of my poem taking on a life of its own, making new friends, learning new languages.  It has a way more interesting time than I do.

But at least it won’t break my heart when it moves into student accommodation in September.

While We’re On The Subject

19 Apr

Keats House Poets Forum's photo.

 

At the moment, I have no words.  It made me smile, then, as one of life’s little ironies, when I received an email announcing the launch of a new poetry ezine containing one of my poems – a poem about censorship, in which most of the words have been removed.

I may not be writing much but I do know how to make a short story long, so here goes.

My poem In The Tradition of ‘The Star’ appeared in the anthology In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights last year.

Earlier this year, one of the anthology’s editors contacted me, asking for permission to use it in a new ezine she and another editor were starting; and inviting me to read at the magazine’s launch in London at the end of March.

I gladly gave permission but had to refuse the invitation, commenting that I wouldn’t know how to read it aloud anyway.

She replied that she quite understood: her employer (a charity fighting female genital mutilation) had held a memorial meeting for Nelson Mandela and my poem had been read out at the meeting – with difficulty.

I sent a garbled reply about poems being like children and taking on a life of their own without you, once you’ve sent them out into the world.

I didn’t hear from her again, but that’s hardly surprising.  If you’ve read this far you’ll be in the same dazed state.

Anyway, to get to the point, here is a link to the new magazine, Writing in the Blackout.

Here’s a bit of the blurb, for the political amongst you:

‘Writing in the Blackout’ is an anthology of poetry and art work that explores the theme of arts censorship and freedom of speech:http://www.ideastap.com/Partners/keatshousepoets

It features newly commissioned poetry and art work from Keats House Poets and IdeasTap members, an interview with English PEN and much more! We hope you enjoy reading our anthology, and would be delighted to hear hear your thoughts on it and do forward it to any of your networks who would be interested in reading it. This project is a snapshot of some of the complex issues connected to censorship, and we are interested in continuing investigating this theme- do let us know if you know organisations who might support a ‘Writing in the Blackout’ workshop or performance. 
We will be hosting a poetry performance and discussion of ‘Writing in the Blackout’ on June 14th, 4:30-6pm at the Keats House Festival in Hampstead. Do follow @KHPoetsor check our blog for more event details http://khpoets.wordpress.com/  
You will find me on page 39 but the whole thing is well worth a read.

 

Googling Myself

12 Mar

It’s not that I’m vain, or anything, but I do occasionally Google my name (okay, I am vain; but can you blame me with this hair?).  At least I don’t check to see if I’ve got a Wikipedia page – no, really, I don’t, honest…

I have to Goggle myself when I’m submitting poems, because so many editors exclude poems already published online, even if it was on my now defunct poetry blogs which can no longer be accessed.

I Gaggled four poems and my name this morning and I was disappointed to find one of them in the 2010 comments section of a poetry blog, which means I can’t use it.  

The Haggle brought up a pleasant surprise, however – which isn’t always a given when you Giggle yourself; all I’m going to say is tea bags/washing line/shame…. Fortunately, I’m such a prolific blogger that the embarrassing photo is hidden way down in my Boggle listing.  

I discovered that a poem published by English Pen last year in their Dictionary of Made-Up Words was featured on their website earlier this year, as part of an ongoing promotion of the book.  I didn’t know it was there.  I’m chuffed!

Even better – it was retweeted!  It’s nice to be twit.

You may say it was coincidence, but I think it’s strange that I didn’t come across this poem until I had my hair cut.  I’m like an anti-Samson: all of my power was consumed by my long hair; now it’s short, I’m discovering my work in the ether and being invited to take part in poetry events which may or may not come off so I can’t say anything at the moment…except that the invites were issued after the haircut…

So, do you Wriggle yourself?  Or are you afraid to discover dirty little secrets of yours hiding out there in the ether?  Are there photos of you drunk at a party? Taking an illicit beach day from work?  Wearing flares?

I’ll find out, you know, when I Ogle you.

Never Forget The Prompts

6 Mar

Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation you weren’t supposed to? Tell us about a time when it was impossible not to overhear a conversation between people who didn’t know you were there. What was the conversation about? How did it make you feel?

It wasn’t eavesdropping so much as my first ten minutes in a new job in Johannesburg.  A secretary walked into the office in great distress, crying her eyes out and complaining that ‘he threw my elephant ears off the balcony!’

Hillbrow flats are small and their balconies are tiny and I wasn’t interested in the argument – instead, I was consumed with a desire to know  what exactly were elephant ears?  If they were ornamental elephant ears, how huge were they?  Did he have to use a tool to tip them over or was he so adrenalin/drink/rage fuelled that it was like a mother lifting a car from her child’s pinned-down body?

Or were they genuine elephant ears?  If they were, they’d still be pretty big but surely they’d have shrivelled to mankiness; and where would you buy something like that anyway?  You could buy legal ivory because elephants weren’t protected in South Africa in the Eighties but I never heard of anyone buying wrinkly skin flaps before.

I felt quite sorry for her distress and empathised with her experience of that terrible creature known as ‘man’, but I was cripplingly shy in those days, kept my head down and never stuck my nose in where it wasn’t wanted.  I went all day without knowing what the argument was about but, finally, at 16:29, one minute before leaving, I had to ask: what on earth are elephant ears?

She laughed and replied, ‘A plant.’

How mundane.  Eavesdropping: it’s really not worth the ear-burning it causes.

*

Tell us about a situation where you’d hoped against all hope, where the odds were completely stacked against you, yet you triumphed. Be sure to describe your situation in full detail. Tell us all about your triumph in all its glory.

I really hoped those ears were real.

That was back in the days when I wasn’t animal-mad; or unselfish (no kids yet).

I triumphed because I plucked up the courage – in the face of twenty-four years of terror at the thought of asking questions of a complete stranger, especially about her personal life – to satisfy my curiosity.

*

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

Nellie the Elephant…some of you may have heard of it.  I’m transported to church at half-past seven in the evening and the recollection that I forgot to tell you that I’d had a spicy dinner that day and had to clench my butt cheeks the whole time I was on my knees practising CPR, in case the evidence seeped out.

Don’t mock: I could save your life one day.

*

You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory.

I can’t remember it.  I’m not an elephant.

*

What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?

You never take giant steps when you have a wind problem like mine.

*

When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment? 

Did you not read my last answer?  How easily embarrassed do you think I am?

Okay, you’re right: I am very easily embarrassed in real life; blogging is fairly anonymous so it removes my inhibitions.  If I were to break wind in your physical presence, I think I’d be embarrassed beyond measure.  We both would.

*

Publish a post in the style of a favorite author/blogger or photographer.

A nonsense poem for you, written in five minutes, as an homage to Ogden Nash, Roger McGough and the city of Chicago.

In Praise of Gas 

There’s an art to the fart, I’m sure
(just follow a wild beast’s spoor).
But if a pump makes you jump
stay away from the elephant’s trump.

He who has gas laughs last (and usually alone).
He capers at vapours and gels with smells;
but he secretly prays there’s no belligerence
caused by his intense flatulence –

he feels embarrassment
but masks it with merriment
and expensive,
frequently sprayed scent.

Apologies to my audience:
I feel I ought to rescind my words about wind –
I suspect I am less sinned against,
than I have sinned.

Talking Heads

24 Feb

Last Thursday, I gave another poetry reading at Walthew House in Stockport – my third.  They have asked me back for a fourth visit.   One chap (he’s a chap because he’s from the older generation; if he was my age, he’d be a man; Spud’s age, he’d be a lad.  Isn’t language funny?) told me that they had talked about me long after I left last time; then hastened to assure me he meant, ‘in a good way.’ Hmm.

It wasn’t me so much, but the poetry.  They are a wonderful, lively group called Talking Heads, and that’s what they do: talk.  A lot.  The poems I read caused much debate.  The group leader had asked for poems on the theme of ‘spring’ so I had prepared about forty poems (I was due to read for an hour), including some of my own.  The topics of mine varied from cleaning to seduction to dog poo, but all mentioned spring.

They enjoyed one poem so much – six lines on World War One military equipment – they asked for the name of the poet…which was me.  I was delighted to send two people home with copies of the poem – the first time that’s ever happened.

The chap who asked, Vincent, told us it reminded him of a poem he had written when his son was serving in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.  He wondered if he could read it to us, but the memory of his emotion at the time – the absolute fear from having a child in a war zone – choked him up so much, it was fifteen minutes before he composed himself enough to read it.  It was worth the wait: lovely; touching and heartfelt.

After some talk of Thomas Hardy (none of whose poems I had read, but that will show you the meandering nature of the discussions), Vincent mentioned that his son’s best friend had sent him a collection of Hardy’s poems, underlining The Darkling Thrush in the Contents as his favourite poem.  A couple of days after receiving the book Vincent, unable to stay in the house and listen to war news on the radio, had taken an evening walk and came across a lone thrush, singing a solo symphony in the evening air.  Vincent was entranced.

Returning home, there was a phone call around 11:30 that night.  Shaking, he answered.  It was his son: Dad, I’m home!  He didn’t have time to talk because there were several people he had to call with the news, but his Dad had been first on the list.

Next evening, Vincent took another walk and came across the same thrush, singing in celebration, it seemed.  Vincent said he yelled at it: You knew he was safe last night, didn’t you?  You could have told me!  Neither Vincent nor the thrush took any notice of the people staring at the barmy man yelling at a bird in the tree.

What a wonderful story, provoked by a poem.  And that’s why I love poetry.

Warning: This Blog Is About To Get All Soppy*

14 Feb

*Which is so out of character, I seriously considered starting yet another blog, for my weak days.

Today is St Valentine’s Day.  The Hub and I never celebrate it.  He’s thoughtful of and caring towards me.  He gives me love notes, flowers and little gifts all year round.   You’ve heard me boast about it.  He can also be a great big jerk sometimes, but that’s marriage for you.

The Hub doesn’t believe in St Valentine’s Day.  He thinks that people shouldn’t need a special day  to show their love; they should show it all the time.

That puts me in a bit of pickle: I’m not a romantic like the Hub and my way of showing my love is not spitting in his dinner when I’m mad at him.  He doesn’t think that’s particularly in my favour.

So, I did what I always do when I’m confronted with an emotional conundrum: I wrote a poem. Enjoy, and don’t think too badly of me.

*

What’s Love?

For Paul, the love of my life

 

What’s love?
It’s your hand holding the sick bowl, wiping my face.
It’s crying for someone who gave you a lifetime of grief;
because I loved her and you love me. It’s letting me hate you in
hormonal periods. It’s sitting, sweating in your undies
because I’m cold and won the fight over the central heating.
It’s playing taxi. It’s calming me on kitchen days. It’s buying
takeaways when the wallet can’t take it but soothing failed.
It’s tolerating my beliefs, so crazy to you. It’s your gift of two
beloved boys, knowing they displaced you, and not caring.
It’s golf balls at Christmas and Shakespeare at fifty.
It’s doing what I ask when you really don’t want to.
It’s putting me first.
It’s time, not money.
Sometimes, it’s money.
It’s the everyday ordinary and the occasionally sublime.
It’s blaming the world for my setbacks, when you know it’s
really me. It’s sending me to South Africa, France, Widnes.
It’s love notes in my laptop, my diary, the fridge.
It’s accepting my fat. It’s rejoicing when I’m slim.
It’s rocking a colicky baby all night then working all day.
It’s no sleep. It’s sore feet.
It’s working too hard, too long, too far away.
It’s coming home again. It’s trust. It’s not eating burgers
because there’s steak at home. It’s knowing what matters.
It’s hard times, unhappy times, tragic times.
It’s staying together.
It’s you and me, two kids and thirty years.
It’s you.
That’s love.

*

*

That’s got to pay off at least a year’s supply of hearts written on milk bottles, hasn’t it?

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