Saturday, March 07, 2009

February Prize Poem

Thank you, everyone, for posting your poems last month, and also over the last year or so. I don't always have the time to acknowledge every post, and make individual comments, but I want you to know that I do enjoy reading them all. In retrospect it seems obvious, but I hadn't fully appreciated the difference moving to a non-english speaking country would make to me, both on a day to day basis, and as a writer. So, to open AppleHouse Poetry and read poems in english, by people I know, or am getting to know, is a joy. Really.

And now, on to last month's prize poem...

I laughed out loud at John Kenny's 'camel risen from the dead/ to haunt you in your room'! And Martin Cordrey's list of imperative verbs to extinguish the past had an accumulative energy and the interesting effect of actually reinforcing all those past events. But it's Annie Clarkson's prose poem, 'After the Accident', that I've chosen this month.

The title contributes so much to this poem: we read the poem in a very different light, aware of the narrator's need to recover, or settle, or find some kind of peace.

Despite being a list of commands, the force of the imperative is softened by the imagery in the poem, e.g. sit' and the movement of sunflowers in the wind and light, 'listen' and the sound of leaves and birdsong.

But the most surprising (and satisfying) thing about this poem, for me, was how it defied my expectations at the end with the instruction:

Imagine freeing the sunflowers from their tethers so they can experience all their sadness and pain and be truly free to move.

Poets often use Nature as a balm, as a way to comfort ourselves in the face of the harsh realities of life. And this poem begins that way, asking us to notice the natural environment and, by inference, take comfort from it. But the close of the poem turns us back onto ourselves, and asks us to recognise the need to experience 'sadness and pain' in order to be 'truly free'.

It's a beautiful and powerful poem, Annie. Congratulations. I'll put your prize in the post.

The first prompt for March will be up in a couple of days.


After the accident

Sit in a garden chair and stare at the sunflowers all day. Notice how they bend in the wind, how they lean away from the wall, straining to escape from the string that fastens them there.

Sit outside all day and watch the way light shifts. Follow the sunflowers’ shadows as they dance on the garden wall. Learn their complex movements so you can improvise your own flamenco: an intricate dance that matches the sunflower’s passion, the emotional turn of its head in the wind.

Listen to a cante libre in the rustle of leaves and birdsong, click imaginary castanets as you stare, stare, stare at gypsy flowers expressing all the emotions you feel inside.

Imagine walking across the grass. Imagine freeing the sunflowers from their tethers so they can experience all their sadness and pain and be truly free to move.

Annie Clarkson

For more about Annie, and to read more of her poems, go to her page at Poetry pf


Megan said...

Tender and powerful, I enjoyed Annie's poem very much

Lynne Rees said...

Thanks for posting, Megan. It is a lovely poem, isn't it.

Good to see you on AppleHouse. And thank you too for giving me an excuse to order a book from the UK :-) I've just sent off for your novel from Flame - I love novels with young protagonists. Looking forward to reading it.

annie clarkson said...

thank you Lynne for your kind words, your writing prompts are very inspiring...

Michelle said...

Beautiful, Annie. Congratulations!

Jo said...

Gorgeous piece, Annie. A great site, I'm glad of the tip-off.