Archive for the ‘Poetry by others’ Category

Tomorrow will be Tuesday, maybe
January 23, 2012

A poem by Caroline Bird, Last Tuesday. I love it, you should love it.


Poetry > Novels
January 16, 2012

So this is really just a rant. What I don’t understand is why novels hold greater prestige than poetry. Why is it that most people have read at least something by Hardy, Austin, Wells or Dickens; any classical writer yet the great poets of the past aren’t nearly as celebrated. Ezra Pound? He practically created modernism. E. E. Cummings? Another hugely influential writer that has had an impact on poetry to this day. T. S. Elliot? People seem to only associate him with The Waste Land, yet it seems no one has actually read it… if we can’t appreciate the classical poets how can people ever appreciate the great, up and coming poets of today? For instance, Caroline Bird, a young poet that has just continued to excel in the poetry scene from a young age. How many people actually know her name? How many people actually know what poet laureate is? Or know anything about Carol Ann Duffy other than she’s a lesbian and a bit of a feminist? It just annoys me, because all other art seems to hold so much more esteem. Any other styles of writing, music, visual art. When did people stop caring about poetry? I mean, how can someone enjoy literature and not poetry? I know so many people who can sit and read and thoroughly love George Elliott’s Middlemarch, yet put a couple of stanza of Barret-Browning in front of them and they moan. Poetry does so much more, it says so much more, it’s so much cleverer, it requires so much more, it’s simply brilliant. But then again, are modern-day poets trying to reach out to the wider audience? Or in doing that would they lose respect from the critics, from fellow poets? Is poetry in itself inaccessible these days? Who knows. Oh well. I will finish this with a poem by Matthew Sweeny which I think is accessible, is clever and resembles the kind of poetry I inspire to write like. I hope others enjoy it too.

Sanctuary by Matthew Sweeny
Stay awhile. Don’t go just yet.
The sirens are roaming the streets,
the stabbing youths are out in packs,
there’s mayhem in the tea-leaves.
You’re much better off staying here.
I have a Bordeaux you’ll like,
let’s open it. (I’ve a second bottle, too.)
And a goat’s cheese to fast for,
also a blue from the Valse of Cashel –
and the source of the bread stays a secret.
Was I expecting you to stay?
No, I always eat like this.
Hear that – wasn’t it a gunshop?
Come closer, turn the music up.
Maybe we should dim the lights.
Let’s clink our glasses to each other
if no better toast comes to mind.
I told you you’d ooh! at the cheese –
here, have some more. A top up?
You’re the kind of girl I like.
Listen, that was definitely a bomb.
Maybe the civil war has strted,
the one they’ve all been promising.
Well, there’s nowhere to go now,
so let’s kill the lights and retire.

Literature’s Biggest Myth
November 7, 2011

Okay, I’m probably going to get a lot of people opposing me here, but fuck it. Most people believe that literature is all about expression, a deeper meaning, emotion. That’s why people think, oh I have a strong feeling, therefore if I write a poem or novel about it, it will be amazing because I am feeling this. It’s ‘real’. Literature is not about expressing yourself, it’s about giving the reader an experience. Personal expression is for your own consumption. For your journals, blogs, diaries, post-it notes, or whatever. Yes content is important, and I’m not saying the content of what I’m writing in these posts isn’t something I’ve felt, or it’s pointless or whatever, but I’m not writing it because I want to tell the world, ooh look what I’m feeling, because most of the time that’s not what I’m feeling when I write it. Yes I guess I am trying to express something, but there’s so much more to it than that! It’s about creating something that stands out, that makes an impact. And it’s not just in the words you use, words are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but words are only 10% of literature. This is why I think I prefer poetry. Why can’t you want to write a poem because you like the sounds of certain words? Or because you want to subvert something? Genre? Social rules? Pragmatics? Surprise the reader. I’m not saying that I do this well, but what I am saying is this is what I strive for, this is the poetry I can appreciate the most. Where you can see the writer has done more than just had an emotion. I like poetry that manipulates language, down to how it is presented on a page. Semantics is such a beautiful and amazing thing, I don’t think people really see just how much words have to offer. I don’t think I’m being clear so I’m going to quote a poem that isn’t about expressing an emotion, it is about language choice, syntax, grammar, linguistic expectations, structure, etc. It worms its way into your head, inception, true poetry. I’m getting over excited now.

Paul Simon variations
by Matthew Welton
I’m laying out my winter clothes.
            I’m laying out my winter girl.
                        I’m laying up my winter girl.
I’m fucking up my winter girl.
            I’m fucking up my Spanish girl.
                        I’m fucking up your Spanish girl.
Who’s fucking up your Spanish girl?

Okay, I’m probably really bias because Matthew Welton is my lecturer, but he is a brilliant contemporary poet! I challenge anyone who writes purely for emotion, try this, if it’s a love poem, try writing about love without using any language commonly associated with love, or affection. If it’s a poem about loss, depression etc, try to not use any negative language or imagery. I love experimenting with stuff like this. Most of the time it turns out awfully, but you learn so much, and it’s fun. Well I think it is. Recently I’ve been trying to write a poem that incorporates the line “the stars collide” because I really love the imagery it creates, nothing I’m particularly proud of has come out of it yet. But I’ve got a good few half poems scribbled down. Also, I tried to write a poem about suicide without mentioning anything depressing. It definitely needs tweaking, but that will likely be posted soon.

I fear this post is a bit sporadic and isn’t very cohesive, but oh well. I needed a little literary rant. Basically, I’m sick of people seeing pieces of great writing only as a form of expression, as a result of some strong emotion, and I’m sick of people only writing because they ‘feel’ it. And they get ‘inspired’ by something ‘beautiful’ or whatever. Inspiration has nothing to do with it. Well it does, but the greats do not wait for a magical sunset, or heart-break until they write something amazing. It’s art, and if you want to be an artist, you gotta churn it out relentlessly, otherwise you will never be great. That’s my view anyway. Like, an athlete, if you want to be the best, you have to train every day, have a strict regime, and stick to it. Published writers do a similar thing, they have a regime, they have to get through a certain number of words at a certain rate, otherwise they will only ever be amateurs.

A Dream Within A Dream
November 4, 2011

Oh what I’d give to write like this. The famous ‘A Dream Within A Dream’, a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. It takes something else to write a poem so beautiful, I’m working so hard at it, but it seems futile, in the mean time, I’ll surround myself with the breath-taking poems, such as this one. I love it.

A Dream Within A Dream
by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Why I Love Poetry
October 31, 2011

Sheep In Fog

By Sylvia Plath

The hills step off into whitness
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them

The train leaves a line of breath
O slow
Horse the colour of rust

Hooves, dolorous bells –
All morning the
Morning has been blackening.

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.


Every line in the poem so perfectly written, it really is. I’m not going to go into each and every thing I love about this poem, but I will pick out a few, basic things. I love the imagery in the line, ‘the train leaves a line of breath’, because it really instills the loneliness evoked in this poem, with connotations of the end of life, reinforced with the repeated ‘morning’ in the next stanza, holding the same phonetics as ‘mourning’. I’ve tried writing similarly, to create the same sense of fragility and vulnerability but I find it always comes across too harsh, it’s so gentle. ‘My bones hold a stillness’, does this in particular, the verb choice ‘hold’ denotes that perfect balance between the placidity juxtaposed with the uneasiness and uncomfortable tone of hopelessness. It’s beautiful. And beautifully heart breaking. And not only is each part of the poem eloquent, the poem as a whole work cohesively, my favourite feature being the ‘whiteness’ at the beginning and the ‘dark water’ at the end. It’s so simple yet implemented in a way that adds a more complex, downward-spiralling sense to it. I love this poem, and I love Sylvia Plath.

I Leave This At Your Ear
October 22, 2011

I am a great believer in, you can only write great pieces if you can appreciate great pieces, and a poem that came up in a lecture recently that I haven’t been able to get out of my head, by W.S. Graham. I love the way it sounds, the way the words literally fall off of your tongue and the impressionistic imagery that harmonises surrealism and emotion in a beautiful amalgamation. I love how simply it is constructed, yet with the most complex of devices, and to create such a gentle and intimate work of art. If I were to comment critically on it, I would say that possibly the second stanza is a little too far fetched, but that’s just my opinion. And to be fair, despite this, I wouldn’t change it, though I guess a main reason why I adore it so much is because a hopeless romantic. Could it be argued that this kind of poetry is dead in modern day society? I’d like to think that’s we haven’t quite gone that far yet, maybe chivalry and courtship, well maybe not even that, just simple honest gentleness, is still around. Yes I am a believer in that it is alive and kicking somewhere. Let me know what you think.

I Leave This At Your Ear
by W.S Graham
I leave this at your ear for when you wake
A creature in its abstract cage asleep.
Your dreams bindfold you by the light they make.
The owl called from the naked-woman tree
As I came down by the Kyle farm to hear
Your house silent by the speaking sea.
I have come late but I have come before
later with slaked steps from stone to stone
To hope to find you listening for the door.
I stand in the ticking room. My dear, I take
A moth kiss from your breath. The shore gulls cry.
I leave this at your ear for when you wake.