Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Summer update - July 2016

When I wrote my spring update last year I had no idea how busy a time would intervene or that there would be no new material to share until now. The hiatus was entirely unplanned and uncharacteristic. The academic year 2015 - 16 was particularly tough. Coupled with umpteen other things its seen writing take a back seat for the first time since I took up my pen and wrote in 2010. Time flies and I can hardly believe we're into the second half of 2016 already. The intervening period saw some success before everything got buried under an avalanche of mandatory reading and essays...

Getting into print for the first time in last August's edition of Writer's Forum magazine was undoubtedly the highlight and proof that hard work and persistence can pay off. It is worth exposing yourself to constructive criticism. I'd been sending in poems for several months prior, taking the optional critique along the way. I learned a lot about what makes a poem work versus common pitfalls and the dangerous lure of cliché. (Needless to say I've sailed close to these rocks on occasion).
I believe my work will be better from here on as a result of taking some risks. For what it's worth, my advice; don't be afraid of sticking your head above the parapet. You'll get some knockbacks along the way but nothing ventured, nothing gained. It will all be worth it in the end if you marry belief with being prepared to listen to what others have to say about your work. My long term goal is have a published collection. I'm not going to waver from that course and I believe it will happen. The steps I'm taking now will be the foundations on which I will achieve my goal. 

There has been only very limited time for performing poetry. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Southwold festival in Suffolk last summer. A lot of varied performances from music to poetry were to be had and it was well worth the journey. Also I got to perform at the Light Bulb Festival, Colchester, alongside Leanne Moden and Martin Newell which made for a great evening. I am one of these types that enjoy performing but it isn't the primary goal of writing for me. My favourite thing is to sit down with a poem I enjoy, read it through several times and just think about what the speaker is saying. There are collections I will return to time and again simply for the reading experience. Particular favourites are Leonard Cohen's  "Book of Longing", Pasquale Petit's "What the Water Gave Me", The collected works of Freda Downie, Kapka Kassabova's "Someone Else's Life" and of course Emily Dickinson. That's the goal.

These poets allow the reader to return again and again and still find something fresh. Push me to name a favourite and I'll say Dickinson but am acutely aware all arts are subjective and you most likely don't share my opinion. Isn't that what it's all about though? Cordial disagreement is an increasingly rare commodity. A final thought before some short poems regarding the subject of subjectivity. I'd rather be what we Brits call a "marmite poet". Marmite is a peculiar yeast extract that people either love or loathe in equal measure. There seems to be no middle ground. Surely the worst thing is for the reader or listener to sit on the fence with an uncommitted shrug of the shoulders when you've given them your best shot!

Enough rambling already, poems...

Junk Mail

I waited for the fall of your card upon the doormat

Ached to hear a sound that said you cared

Strained my ears for the fall of envelope on carpet

A hope of thoughts you might have kindly spared.

I waited through a cold grey winter morning

For those words to light me, like your smile

Daydreamed in colour of our door step conversation

When your toes playfully gripped the carpet pile.

I waited for hours slowly turning into days

Sat forgotten under a covering of dust

Motionless as spiders weaved their webs around me

Warmed only by false memories of “us”.

Do you know the pain your omission brought me?

Emotionally I’ve turned into a ghost

Silence only broken by the shattering of hope

No love, just junk mail through the post.

Junk Mail is the poem that made print. Its dedicated to the moment the speaker realises the "magical other" is not going to send them a birthday card.

I referred earlier to Leonard Cohen's "Book of Longing". It had a tremendous influence on me. I'll leave you for now with some short pieces I wrote in the wake of that book, trying to reach the shore. Until next time...
Sea of Longing

Today is a day of longing
In a week of longing
In a year of longing
Sailing on the sea of longing.
There's no land in sight
No other ships in sight.
None pass in long nights
Spent on the sea of longing.
Tigress as Sexual Predator
I saw a tigress in my dream
Representing female power
Sexuality with a hint of aggression.

She was a seductress
Hiding under stripped fur
When I stroked her she purred.

Coming to the surface
She was a repressed feeling
An erotic fantasy coiled to strike

And we knew
As she opened like a flower
She could eat me at any moment.

We also knew
The secret of the jungle
It was a feast we both wanted.
Monk’s Eye View

In penitence I will shave my head
Clad myself in sunset’s orange robes
And sit in the crook of a crescent moon
Painting love across the canvass of your sky.

Dead Line

It was all a pointless exercise

Trying to mend broken thoughts

Repair hopes which died long ago

Sat waiting, by a silent phone.
I Neutrino

Falling through the earth
Streaming through your eyes
Hollow, disembodied

I pass right through you
A massless ghost particle
You do not interact with me at all.

Three Phases of the Moon

"Three Phases of the Moon" is a three part poem about longing for the “magical other” expressed as the moon. The speaker begins by losing their identity in the “magical other”, becoming indivisible from them. When they try to join with the other in any meaningful sense the object of their affections is as elusive as the moon in water. When they try to reach out and touch the other it proves impossible to connect. The final phase sees the speaker trapped by their own desire.

Possessing the Moon
I was over the moon in my dreams
Ready to enter the sea of tranquillity.
Raw desire threatened to drown me
Until I became the man in the moon.

Reflections of the Moon
Looking at the moon is akin to longing
I yearn to lasso the silver disk, tie it to a stick,
Wander around basking in its glow

I’ve seen its likeness in many different faces
Seen it mirrored in many different eyes
Heard its echo in many different voices

You are the source of the moon
Waves of you bridge the gulf between us
Cut though my heart with the speed of sound

It reminds me of fishing for your favour
Elusive, like a reflection in a puddle
I tried to connect, you dissolved at my touch

Still you stubbornly coalesce 
Flooding me with an intangible smile.
How many more times must I return?
How many more times try to lasso the moon?

Under the Moon

You’re still there, shining above me
I realised as much in twenty seconds
Spent longing over a doorstep.
The moon I worship will never change.
Well, that's it for this time. I hope you enjoy the update and I promise not to leave it quite so long again, God willing!

Kind regards

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