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
Bob-bobbing atop. It’s raining heav-i-lee. A swollen Cut.
The ark! Sweet jesus bliss below decks aboard
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
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
swollen Cut leaking
bliss then the ark
aboard the flimsy
early doors is dregged
grainy beneath a bruisy
bankridge to bankside
dip their wicks awaiting
the craic of a catch
out on the drench
saved from the worst of the whipping
best below deck
gently steam stoveside
giving the pissdown a pass
pass the towel and that tea
whetted whistle -sigh-
missle tuck up
portholes no window on the soul
of a day leaking
first bellyflop of thunder flexing
lordy lord thundersounding plashing
her weight around
wielding not drowning…
Ah, pull up a chair
and take a warming.