Monday, December 08, 2008

November Prize Poem

What I'm enjoying so much while reading your poems each month is becoming more and more familiar with your individual voices. It's difficult to say definitely and precisely what a poet's voice is, what ingredients go towards identifying and differentiating one poet from another, but the personal choices we make with regard to all of the following play a part:

language
syntax
rhythm
rhyme
form
subject matter

And it's rhythm and rhyme that, for me, are a major part of one poet's work, rhythm and rhyme that always feel well chosen for the subject matter and form and drive the poem forward without ever dominating it. It's not a formal use of a metre or rhyme scheme, more an organic development that adds a wonderful musicality to the poem and increases the reader's enjoyment. Congratulations, Linda W, for:

November rain

Fireworks soon fizzled and the month set in
to unrelenting gloom. Lights on at four pm
in library and living room. Black-bellied clouds
ached for relief, and then the rain
began, slanted stripes turning to angry spots
on window panes.

People in the street leaned
into umbrellas, coat collars a makeshift screen,
while their feet pulped wet leaves and water seeped
into the crevices of shoes,
set them shivering
soaked them through

from toes to hair. But some
recalled the fetid air and scorching sun
of long dry days, when with upturned faces
they prayed for the bliss
of cooling, healing rain
like a lover’s kiss.

Linda W

There's so much to enjoy about this poem but a few things that struck me as particularly strong were the rhythm and weight of 'unrelenting gloom', the break at the end of this line: People in the street leaned/, and the long syllables and assonance in:

while their feet pulped wet leaves and water seeped

Al Alvarez says, in his book The Writer's Voice, '... feelings - not the grand emotions aspired to, but the altogether subtler sense of being emotionally awakened - are expressed less in imagery than in movement, in the inner rhythm of the language.'

This isn't something I've fully explored in my own writing, but I 'feel' it here in Linda's poem and I'm sure other readers will too.

Congratulations again, Linda. Please email me with your postal address and I'll send you your prize, this lovely Desk Calendar, 'Une Année en Provence', for 2009.


3 comments:

margaret beston said...

Well done Linda! Well deserved - a lovely poem.

Gordon Mason said...

Congratulations Linda!

charlotte segaller said...

Beautifully written, Linda.