Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oven cleaner, apples, open fires

Hello from Kent where I've spent more time inside the oven that I really wanted to and where the cardboard boxes are gradually diminishing. But not in my writing room. We left all our library shelving in the house in France so I'm waiting for new pine bookcases and a new pine desk which won't be here until after Christmas. It's not that I really need access to all my books but I do feel better when they are all facing me, the bright colours and words on their spines smiling at me as I pass, and not lying on their backs in the dark. But not long now.

Home means apples - there are 20 acres of apple trees just outside my door. It means log fires - we've kept the wood stove alight 24/7 since being home. An open fire in late autumn and winter is one thing I really missed in the house in France.

This week I've paired things that I haven't paired before: apples and sausage-meat (for a savoury supper), and big paintings and little paintings (to create a different effect on the walls in the lounge and kitchen:



Placing them next to each other like this made me think of haiku, of the phrase and fragment (or fragment and phrase) construction a lot of contemporary haiku take:

The haiku at the end of my last post was phrase/fragment:

fall, yet new leaves
on the plane trees:
we pack to go home

The longer part of the haiku, the phrase, extends over the first two lines and the fragment (a single image or comment) is confined to the third.

Free verse poetry can play with similar constructions e.g. long lines alternating with short lines, or perhaps a poem made up from regular stanzas that closes with a single line set apart at the end. The poet's craft lies in knowing why we do this, the effects that changes in pace will have on the reader, on their breathing, how isolating lines will change their relationship to the words on the page.

Write a poem that changes its form at some point during its development. Think about:
long lines
short lines
changes in stanza structure
a poem of two halves
long sentences
short phrases

But choose your subject matter to suit this form change. Remember that form arises from subject matter, that it can be used to effectively reflect emotional tone.

Write well.
L
x

19 comments:

Martin Cordrey said...

Welcome home; I feel like a dog left out in the rain waiting for his mistress's return (is that a bit weird!!)

Keith Wallis said...

Good to have you back up and running.


The trees are shuddering,
cold blasts shiver their timbers,
damp mist hangs in their arms
like ghosts of washing day.
The soggy clutch of discarded leaves
clothes every footfall.
Autumn loses its charm
in grey-filled November.
Crackling
fireside
beckons.

Stephen Fryer said...

Bequests

A fishknife, stolen from the restaurant in Hull,
and the label from the bottle of Sancerre.
You taught me the right way to eat fish there,
and said, without the wine, it would be dull.

A book, The Shipping News, in paperback
you read to me whilst on the train to Rome.
And as you did, your eyes made mine their home.
Said I must keep it, must not give it back.

A cashmere jacket. God, the cashmere jacket.
A gift, you said: our anniversary,
Of the first act of love between you and me.
No wine, no books for a week: it cost a packet.

An envelope. One side, crossed out, addressed to you.
The other side addressed back, to me. A small surprise.
I promised, love, that while you lived my eyes
would not read the contents: a villanelle? a sonnet? a haiku?

Last bequest. A villanelle.

Hell.

Stephen Fryer said...

Bequests

A fishknife, stolen from the restaurant in Hull,
and the label from the bottle of Sancerre.
You taught me the right way to eat fish there,
and said, without the wine, it would be dull.

A book, The Shipping News, in paperback
you read to me whilst on the train to Rome.
And as you did, your eyes made mine their home.
Said I must keep it, must not give it back.

A cashmere jacket. God, the cashmere jacket.
A gift, you said: our anniversary.
That first act of love between you and me.
No wine, no books for a week: it cost a packet.

An envelope. One side, crossed out, addressed to you.
The other side addressed back, to me. A small surprise.
I promised, love, that while you lived my eyes
would not read the contents: a villanelle? a sonnet? a haiku?

Last bequest. A villanelle.

Hell.

Jim said...

A Small White Cross

A small white cross
In a strange place, is all that
remains

for a life. Who comes to see?
Who feels the waiting pain?

There is no more glory in this place
Only loss and sorrow under a small white cross.

For Remembrance day, just a picture of a memory. I keep coming back and reworking this. One day I hope I will feel that it is ready.

Jim

Martin Cordrey said...

Angel Card Trilogy

CHINGCHING –

This is the money card.
She’s the reason why people love you.
Avoid false friends.

CHARITIE –

Here’s the kind one, She’ll distribute
your loose change to relieve your guilt.

BLACK CAT –

Beware
she is a death card.
She will nuzzle
and purr
around your bare ankles…

Catherine said...

The Playground

Scooping small bunched fists in either hand,
the teacher skims the scene, singling out
the anointed, the brightly lit,
those whose lives already lurch
in unsteady steps.

Hair fanning upturned
faces, two girls swish ropes with windmill
arms, a whoosh
of air whips flying feet.
They unfurl,
leap
like leverets.

The footballers-chug breath,
holler tribal language,
scissor legged,
knees that slough scabs
like lichen.
Their shadows swoop
across brittle tarmac dipped
in sunlight.

She crouches, eyes crushed into knees,
heels hunched,
rolling, rocking
like a dinghy shackled to a cob,
far distant
from the shallows.

Some taunts settle on him like flies.
He wafts them off, swats them.
Others sting like hornets.
He slouches,
chews his bottom lip, smarts
with their shaft.



A whistle blown, children wobble,
halt-
the equality of stillness.

Get
in
line.
Resume their role.





.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Raspberry Ridges

Rainier
loomed large on
the cusp
of my childhood;

out
an elementary
school window, over
a back fence, at

the
end of a street, reflected
in lakes, and always depicted
on phone book covers,
neon signs
and centennial
quarters,

appearing this morning
snow ablaze
with sunrise, like
a red spirit, all tall
and raspberry and
mystical.

Glenn Buttkus

November 2011

Glenn Buttkus said...

Yes dear lady, our Muse
in the mists, we are those
creatures riding on the rain
waiting for you to return,
to throw open the back door,
and let us come in, shake
the water from our pelt,
gulp down some apple fritters
and take a long lie in front
of your fireplace dreaming
of the poetics yet unborn.

Catherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine said...

Apropos of nothing at all, I have just won a poetry competition. The money will not get me on the rich list but never mind.

Martin Cordrey said...

Melanie is a feminine name derived from the Greek μελανία (melania), "blackness"
and that from μέλας (melas), meaning "dark

Each sleep a sullen moon
calls for this princess to rise
from her soft warm bed;

naked she has no illuminance of her own,
tied to the stars with apron strings,
her pain burns internal,
as bright as noon,

precipitates like milk
through an ivory blouse:
She bleeds,
a moth in string pearls -

She wanders the mists of alchemy by a silent flooded river
that tugs at her heart like a winter tide, her guardian Angel
has abandoned her shoulder, kept away by a demonic beast,
it watches helpless, forlorn; as she grows weak and cold.

She lays her dreams
in bridal lace and wicker
like a dead child
who will never glimpse daylight.

This melancholy fever makes her floral torso tremble
with the volcanic despair of a ravaged and empty womb.

Melanie’s mystic eye
has turned marble
like a sullen moon.

Lynne Rees said...

Thanks so much for the warm welcomes home - it's good to be here and I'm so pleased to have so many of your poems to read. I'll be back with comments soon.

In the meantime - Many congratulations, Catherine, on winning a poetry competition. We should celebrate our triumphs and achievements. Would you like to publish it on AppleHouse Poetry? If so, email it to me - lynne at lynnerees dot com - and I'll feature it in its own post, along with the name of the competition etc and anything else you want to say about it.

Speak soon.
L
x

Lynne Rees said...

Keith: yes, there's hesitation in the breaks at the end, as if I'm slowly stepping towards the fire. I also thought you could play with a break after hangs/ in line 3, dropping down to a new line perhaps, or indenting the beginning of the next line. Give the reader an emotional response to some of the words. Similarly with loses/ in line 7 which would give you the lineation:
Autumn loses
its charm in grey filled November
which offers a combination of loss and lyricism in the two contrasting line lengths. Some ideas anyway.

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Stephen - lovely rhymes and rhythm, and great control of the voice. And yes, the last short line undercuts the the reader's expectation. I wonder if it's too flippant, or whether the poem should continue and aim for a mixture of bathos and pathos in its closure?

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Jim - I like very much how you've used end of line rhyme in lines of different length: remains/plain. The rhyme unifies the poem rather than dominates when used this way.

You could actually use a run-on title perhaps (to avoid the repetition):

A small white cross

in a strange place, is all that
remains

I like its simplicity.

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Martin - I like how the theme of money is developed in the first two sections of the Angel Card Trilogy, and I expected that to continue in the third: Black Cat. Perhaps I'm looking for a link where there isn't any but a short series like this needs to have a thread running through it I think.

In 'Melanie' I find a lot of the imagery very evocative but I'm unsure what the poem is about, the character of the woman, why she has been abandoned and why her dreams are hopeless. Perhaps there's a little too much mystery that's preventing me from understanding the theme of the poem?

Lynne Rees said...

Catherine - The Playground. It's very moving and I really like the description of the children in your first stanza:

the anointed, the brightly lit,
those whose lives already lurch
in unsteady steps.

It captures such a lot about difference.

One idea for a line break might be:

Some taunts settle on him
like flies. He wafts them off,

This kind of line break (the second line) can create interesting effets by pulling two parts of a scene together.

There's a sense of order returning in your short lines at the end too.

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Glen - the objects/places of our childhood - always good material to explore especially if they have a place in our adult life too.

I like the breaks after the prepositions:
out/ over/ at/
They have a theatrical direction to them.

I'm less sure about breaking up the images associated with them:

elementary
school window...

And I wonder if it would read more effectively on the page like this:

out
an elementary school window, over
a back fence, at

the end of a street,

so the emphasis falls, each time, on the direction?

You might also want to play with the breaks in the last stanza, perhaps creating a different effect in the present to the effects in the memory stanzas? Is there a different emotion connected with recollecting the past and witnessing something in the present? I guess there doesn't have to be but it's a useful thing for us all the think about, perhaps.