I’m splashing about in Kindle Direct Publishing, making a mess, trying to keep it light and dismissing stress – don’t think I’ve used any real swear words, yet. Doing April-poem-a-day this year sent me down this path; I sat up one sleepless night with the idea of settling the best of my old previously published poems in a book.
These poems are set in their decades, the 60s being full of childish memories and teenage troubles with a hint of the history of the time. The collection is thick with memoir but there are oddities thrown in; it’s a bit like a packed suitcase where other minds might boggle at the mix. In the 70s and 80s innocence meets up with experience and discovery, and the 90s are steeped in those nasty political upheavals. My intention was to paint a picture with old published poems so there has been a lot of dragging in and chucking out. I think these poems should live together, forever, and hope readers will feel the same.
Some of these poems were written almost thirty years ago, when I was an energetic and wild woman – impulsive. I’m a different being now and most of my recent work doesn’t blend into this picture. If I don’t allow them space in the light they might languish in a document deep in a file system forever. There’s just something about swimming in nostalgia; here I am writing thirty years ago about the previous thirty years, loving the images and characters. That carnival is well and truly over and all the songs sung, but selective memory is a fantasy in itself. The dating of these poems (in this setting) relates to the time in the poem not the time of writing, except when it does.
Of course I forgot to include the copyright notice in the first attempt, and made such a mess of the paperback process that I decided to make a few changes. It’s good to have a little space to see how a project works out before seriously advertising the product; I nipped away one and added four re-formatted poems…and changed the cover. I know poetry won’t pay the rent but the poems are better out than in, lying around like old sloths, and, I seem to be in tidying mode which, apparently, has me re-writing, re-formatting/structuring old work…and it is interesting fun. I have achieved something and think that satisfaction will be guaranteed.
…and, here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071NPRZP8
So, here is my poem for the referendum:
We are poor bosses; poverty stricken
and weak at managing our minions,
those creeping vines with politic voices
who take and take and talk a foxtrot dance
around our floors, demanding expenses
for cushy cushions and homeless housing.
We are not in the Fortune 500
or the 25 and yet we keep them
above our needs. So lets chop its head off,
and let it fend for its own luxuries.
We are laying down the swords, preparing
for the dance of the century.
(for my daughter)
Cosmetic junkie, social drinker, and
breakfast don’t live here; there’s no lover, pipe
n slippers or ritual sex to grind
my bones; no Sunday lunch, afternoon naps,
praying, confessions, and no eating of
hosts. My life wears different hats, salts its own
ideas into food…lunch and dinner took
a walk some time ago. I’m not obsessed
with plumbing or counting fat content, carbs
or calories so don’t be worrying
about me. I’m lost in happy hours, and
skinny people die too. But, I might
invite a vampire in for a drink, though
forever could be a tad traumatic.
Today, two of my poems are up on a poetry site called Nutshells & Nuggets and I’ve spent quite a bit of time this afternoon subbing. Ah, the thought of work sifting its way through the airwaves makes me feel as satisfied as a traffic warden capturing a Porche out of time.
For the first time, after twenty-five years of writing, I am deep in the habit. The inspiration from Jo Bell’s prompts every week this year has brought me to choose poetry over prose – I will still work on the novels languishing on my laptop, and hopefully get to finish at least one of them, but I fear I am a poet at heart. I always knew I wasn’t the same as all my novelist friends; I don’t suffer the way they do after submitting and I think that’s because a poet submits a hundred times more than them so we tend to just get on with it and let the poems go for months at a time before we receive a yea or nae; we often have multiple packs of six in the wind.
I’ve hardly sent any work out in the last few years and now that I am prolific again I find myself trying to keep the files tidy by using up the old stuff – but the old stuff is different and some of it can’t be bothered changing. Yesterday, I made up my mind to let them lie and go with the new work that is appearing every day. I sorted a few to salt small memoirs and am now growing into a new writer. The old published work can take a back seat, I’m giving it a long holiday, maybe retiring it altogether – there’s so much coming out of most of these prompts that soon it will be redundant.
Last week’s prompt was erotica and what a wild week it was – I think we lost two members who seemed to be not-amused at our abundant enthusiasm.
I used to be on the brink of being totally horizontal, but I think I’ve skated across that plateau now and am being pulled upright – good God, I might be standing already! It wasn’t my fault but I know who to blame – Jo Bell and her Project 52. Write a poem a week she said – little did she know that we’d all be writing a poem a day, sometimes more, and her notifications box has gone mental and there she is just sailing up and down canals in her boat, leaving us completely obsessed with a new prompt every week…and we’ve got to do this for a year. She’s cured my procrastination; halted my lovely horizontal progress and addicted me to a Facebook group that produces hundreds of poems a day…and now, I’m caught up in submitting mania, and regaining that old addiction, blogging. This is the third post in barely an hour.
Her fingers land on the pads
of keys; she’s bouncing on the inside
polishing the past, crafting a life
of living into the whole world…
mind-slammin words, her struggle
with being there, here, doing that,
then and where – it’s a sport,
jammin poets rampaging, staging
bets waging war on ears bent
towards them. This fifty-something
charges the air, muses racing,
poets fishing, phishing nets,
wielding clubs – darlings diving
for cover, but there is no cover on this pool.
along, a 60s
hippy, living the dream; my
fingers worked, a team
laying down thoughts, building blocks
into solid walls
of inspirational sense,
a touch of incense,
threads of smoke scenting the air.
Thirty days, living
the necessary effort
to think of work, to
capture that devil, Insight
swift as silverfish
in a barrel of flour.
I caught it sailing
air, grabbed lungfuls, swallowing
through my fingers into words
to predict my text
and vex the Jonah complex
that ate at time scraped
from my knife. Damn strife.
Inject visions, conclusions
into my veins, push
intentions like drugs, smother
me in graffiti.
Give me deadlines, fine-tune my
actions put me in
traction – stretch this old limo.
Be ruthless, extract
the gold from this soul, sell me
down lazy rivers,
in fact, drive me off a cliff.
make me join the roiling swarm.
– Cape Poetry 2003
This is the best poetry collection I have ever read – reason being that I loved most of the poems in the book and hated none.
The title poem is the first, and is my idea of fabulous. I wish I’d written it. It begins with a three line stanza:
I tried the soft stuff on holiday in Wales,
a mania of teadrinking and hairwashing,
excitable soap which never rinsed away,
There’s a flurry of Roger McGough from the joined-up words and the excitable soap just takes my breath away. She continues on to mention how the rain tasted of work and describes the local water of home as fierce lovely. I’ve fallen in love with this poet. Of course something must’ve made me buy the book, and I look forward to discovering that poem again. I bought the book in September at King’s Bookshop in Callander, while soaking myself in the annual poetry festival run by Sally Evans of said bookshop, and this is me just getting round to reading it.
I like The Room of Saints and Virgins, and, Reading Leaves; they have a magical quirk and lift the tone, make the reader smile. Caravan and An Old Friend Comes to Stay hold my attention, keep me liking her work. Learning to Love Money might have been the poem that attracted me to the book. Lifesaving is interesting – loving The Hangman’s New Career and The Man Who Comes to Empty the Bottle Bank. So far, this collection is worth it, worth the time which is most important to me. I like quirky but need to recognise what’s going on and how it makes me feel. This book makes me happy to have discovered it, and Jean Sprackland.
Imagine my delight when I found the poet online, reading her own work – reading my favourite poems from this very collection! And, here is the link to her page in The Poetry Archive:
It’s hard to find the right poetry to read; this book is so accessible that the poet should be sold in Tesco – I would want to see this little book in the hands of ordinary women on their way to work…I want to hear them read sections to their men and sons…I want to hear her words quoted in documentaries about social history. Read it, and weep because it is so connected to the real world.
I lost a word today, a word that doesn’t mean
a thing to me except that it is lost, and I am
straining like a man with his morning newspaper
and his arse deep in the bowl. I know things
about this word; that it is green and can be stuffed
and that I don’t like them, can’t like them
but everyone else seems to – they pig-out
on them, relish the very idea of their existence.
Is this how age is seeping into my life?
I know I’ll never need this word, never have to ask
for a measure of these fruits that are not sweet
but the bitter taste of this loss carves deep
holes in my mind…and these pits are full
The poetry tourney is going well and I’m pretty happy with my Tritina for the fourth round. The challenges have been great – if you can so name the previous one for Blank Verse, with end-stopped lines and an Acrostic in place with the stipulation that you couldn’t use that letter again in the line! Yes, wild and hairy it has been but it has made me work more in a month than I have all year.
It’s also Poetry Fest time again and I now have fourteen postcard poems winging their way across the pond – only received one so far but hoping for an avalanche any day now. If it’s a quiet day in work tomorrow, guess what I’ll be doing. I’ve got a promised blanket to crochet but I can fit some of that into any kind of day.
If I get through to the next round of the tourney I promise to write a report on poetry form and my tortuous path through it.