Poetry Log : 26.10.2017

The Poetry Log shares a warts ‘n all account of my struggle with poetry.

I love poetry but I’m not a competent poet. I love words in general and would like to use them better. I’m reading as much poetry as I can and enjoying the awesome craft of the poets I’m meeting. Their compression. Their intelligence and creativity. Their use of white space. The particular musicality of sound&meaning.

My interest lies in expressing, in as spare a form as possible, that moment before our brains structure our ideas-impressions-thoughts into language. That scattered, collaged and momentary seed-space where the ideas form. It’s an interest that attracts me to modernist poets.

It’s at that point of ‘powerful brevity’ that I want to lay out my stall and work as a poet. But alongside that desire is an acknowledgement that there’s a contrary side to my make-up as a poet. I’m a hoarder. I’m fascinated by snippets of this and that. I enjoy a pithy paragraph – or two. And that’s why I suspect my poem-making will be hybrid, a form of prose poetry. A meshing of the held-breath rigorous minimalism of modernism with the breathing space of prose.

In the example below I’ve shared a part-work, first there’s an unedited early version of a poem about the joys of getting from a sudden rainstorm to the warm confined of our old boat ‘Eileen’ and then a later version of the same text where extraneous verbiage has been weeded out, I hope without losing the sense of the piece.

OUT OF THE RAIN – version I


Pieces of paper folded or perhaps a strip of plywood
flotsam floating.

Bob-bobbing atop. It’s raining heav-i-lee. A swollen Cut.
The ark! Sweet jesus bliss below decks aboard
the flimsy.

Outside is dregged and grainy under a bruis-ed sky. No time for her-o-ics.
From bankridge to bankside it’s inundation, making fish of men
wet-backed eels.

Except for fishermen who sto-ic-ally sit and dip their wicks awaiting
the craic of a catch. Jees too wet, quackers being out on a drench
just… like… this.

So. A pea in a pod. Snug as a bug. The hair of the dog.
Psychologically sou’wester’d and saved from the worst of
the weather’s whipping.

Water-coddle. Best head indoors. Best below decks.
Souzysizzle. Gently steam at fireside. Give pissing rain a pass.
Pass the towel and that tea.

Rub down. Whetted whistle. Sigh. Good to give it all a missle.
Tuck up. Stare out of portholes knowing they’re no window
on the soul.

Just round and round expressions of a day leaking.
The monotonous crying monochrome. SUDDEN
first bellyflop of thunder flexing.

     Lordy lord that thundersounding plashing. Bullyboy throwing her
weight around, wielding not drowning.

Ah, pull up a chair.

OUT OF THE RAIN – version II

odds of paper
folded or perhaps

slat of ply
flotsam afloat

bob-bobbing atop
the agitation

bloody rain
swollen Cut leaking

bliss then the ark
aboard the flimsy

early doors is dregged
grainy beneath a bruisy

bankridge to bankside

gilly men
wet-backed eels

sto-ic-ally sit
dip their wicks awaiting

the craic of a catch
out on the drench

pea-in-pod   snug-as-bug

psychologically sou’wester’d
saved from the worst of the whipping

water-coddle indoors
best below deck

gently steam stoveside

giving the pissdown a pass
pass the towel and that tea

whetted whistle     -sigh-
good riddance

missle   tuck up
portholes no window on the soul

but round
and round

of a day leaking

first bellyflop of thunder flexing

lordy lord thundersounding plashing
bullyboy throwing

her weight around
wielding not drowning…

Ah, pull up a chair
and take a warming.

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  • We're just about ready to restart the Long Trip down the Water Road.
  • Recommendations of websites & books always welcome...
  • Current reading: 'Magpie Words' Richard Caddel, 'Woods etc.' Alice Oswald & '100 Prized Poems'
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