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Poetry

So, I have my poetry prompt book by Jo Bell, and I now have “The Very Best Of 52” too in order to assist me in getting to grips with writing poetry too.  I enjoy poetry, but some of it I really struggle to get to grips with.

When I was doing a degree in English Language and Literature we covered poetry by Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes to name a few.  One that both Plath and Hughes wrote was about one of their children, which came from each others perspective. Both really good pieces, but, I have to say, it took me many readings of them to get a grip of them. Some in the class got them immediatly, but I did struggle.  I got it in the end, but I learned that sometimes, that is the way of poetry. I also learned a valuable lesson in reading it properly, as I had in the past read each line and at the end of the lines paused rather than follow the punctuation.

This week the prompt is on travel, however, so far I am stumped. I travel all the time, but putting pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard I sit and wait for it to flow, and wait, and wait, and yes, I wait some more. Nothing comes forth.

I mentally wrote on in bed at 5am about winter, but as for travel, the timble weeds blow through and nothing else.  I have till tomorrow night to complete this weeks exercise, so fingers crossed, and off to the poetry archive and poetry foundation to get the juices flowing.

I do have a favorite poem, that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Kahn” detailed below from the Poetry Foundation website.


 

Kubla Khan

BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

52 Project

Radcliffe and Marconie on BBC Radio 6 Music before Christmas did a feature on Jo Bell and the 52 Project.  For those who do not know, as I didn’t until hearing the feature, the 52 Project was a genius idea of Jo Bell’s to help people who wanted to write poetry succeed.  She started a blog where, each week she gave prompts, help and advice to those who wanted to write.  No rubbish instructions or half-hearted advice, just help, encouragement and guest poets to get the juices flowing.

Whilst listening to her and the presenters talk with such passion about the project I found myself swept away by it all.  I had written poetry a long time ago, close to 25 years ago.  I want to write both stories and poetry and decided that this could be the encouragement I needed.  I have often woken in the early hours and written pieces in my head, but never committed them to paper.  Why?  Embarrassment and the idea or disturbing my partner or the dogs for that matter, who will immediately want to start playing and pace about waiting for breakfast. This is not a good way to introduce 4 am to anyone.

I am quite impatient, so looked for a Kindle version of the book, alas, it is only in the printed book.  The library didn’t stock it, nor did Waterstones, although they could get it, it would not be in my hands till the new year. Prime membership at the ready for next day delivery, but Amazon do not stock it themselves.  Another bookseller on the site had it at a great price of £8 + delivery, brand new.  I clicked buy now, wanting it before the new year, but surrendering to the fact that delivery could be as late as late as 9th January.  I wanted to start the project in the first week of January and crossed my fingers that it would be here by then.  Christmas Eve the book popped through the letterbox.  My project can begin.

The first prompt, “how to approach a year” with a poem from Lauren Zuniga entitled “Everything is going to be amazing”. Needless to say, I had to read it quite a few times to get all that she was saying.  When doing my degree in English Language and Literature we did a bit of poetry, and that helped, but I find that reading the piece several times in my head, then out loud is the only way I can feel it.  Maybe I am not a poetry person? But I intend to be.

Week one and I have written one called “Hit the ground running”, so far 8 stanzas, but still a work in progress until Friday 8th when the next piece will be started. I keep going back to it and re-reading it and changing bits, but I guess that’s the idea, keep editing till you like what you read, but not to fall into the trap of over editing, and ending up with something sterile and lost to the delete key.