Friday, February 06, 2009

January Prize Poem

Well, you certainly had fun with the Fibonacci poems! I loved reading them... tricky little things to make interesting though, aren’t they?

One of the difficulties I encountered was giving each line enough ‘weight’ i.e. making it interesting enough... always a problem when a line only has one word.

There’s also the issue of fluidity. Does the line break help or hinder the flow of the poem? Is it just an exercise in counting syllables or have we used the line breaks to contribute more to the poem e.g. hesitation, suspense, dramatic development?

I thought Martin Cordrey’s:

as if
someone has
moved the horizon
and I can nibble the moon

made good use of the line breaks (the hesitations feel appropriate to the emotional mood in the first 3 lines - even if the last line is one syllable short) as did Charlotte Segaller’s:

falls back down,
like the hilltown's sighs
in that soft grey column of rain.

The image accumulates in the first 3 lines, taking us higher, before the fall contained in the 4th line with its thump of three one syllable words.

But the poem I’ve chosen this month is Annie Clarkson’s ‘Recovery’:


Here is a chicken coop with no hens.

A burnt out caravan, a tin of gasoline,
a rusting tap, three empty barrels,

standing by a corrugated shed.
Where I can hear a radio

an old transistor’s crackle and hiss.
Nobody is listening.

Cold mug of tea. Worn armchair
Pair of slippers with nobody to wear them.

I sit in the shed and stare out
at nothing, no life that I can see.

Brown furrows where there should be
leeks or carrots or beets.

Not even prickled bushes or squat trees.
Dried earth for miles. Grey sky.

Then, at the edge of my vision-
a dash of colour, a wingbeat.

It’s hard for me to see, but for a moment
on the rotting handle of a spade,

almost breathless, it flits from spade
to rusting tap to the edge of the door,

darts towards me and rests
this fleeting sign of life

on the arm of my chair.

Annie Clarkson

One of the things I enjoyed so much about this poem was the reward of returning to the title and it feeling so absolutely, perfectly chosen. Because of the length of the poem, and the accumulation of imagery, I’d actually forgotten about it until I reached the end and glanced back. And then came the ‘Yes!’ that we all want our readers to say and feel in response to our work.

The dash of colour, the wingbeat is nudging the narrator towards recovery, away from the emptiness, the brokenness, and the absence suggested by the powerful imagery in the poem. This is more than hope, this feels like promise.

Many congratulations, Annie. If you email me with your postal address, I’ll put your ‘prize’ in the post.


annie clarkson said...

Oh how wonderful, thanks Lynne x

charlotte segaller said...

Great poem, Annie. Well done!