Thank you for all the poems that have arrived and the scores still to come.
I started on a whim. It’s grown like Topsy, and I need to get much more organised and keep you all in the loop.
First off: I’ll be delighted for you to ask for a letter of the alphabet if you haven’t already done so
Second: I’m setting a deadline of April 30th, and I’ll read no more that come in after that.
Third: After April 30th I’ll be involving other people to help me organise a sequence …. it won’t be random. I want to think of it as a properly edited online anthology; you deserve it.
Fourth: Everyone who submits will be published. If I have a problem I may ask for minor changes BUT your poem will appear on the blog.
Fifth: can I remind you that The Swineherd gets part of it strength from being written in the voice of the swineherd. I sort of assumed that everyone would assume that the poems should be ventriloquial …..you take on your character’s voice. The ones I’ve already got that aren’t, well, they have been accepted. Don’t panic.
Sixth. About those ‘moments that get you in’
Clive James says that these are the moments that let you recognise ‘a real poem’, the turn of phrase, or image that memorises itself as you you read it, the ones that make you blink in recognition. I sometime offer a list of these in the (very few) workshops I’ve run, and I thought I’d share them here. It’s impossible to define how they work. Alchemy. There’s always some sort of surprise. Keep awake for them, let them come in.
Some moments that draw you in.
At my back I always hear /Time’s wingéd chariot hurrying near
..she was standing there/ silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
….they’re selling postcards of the hanging
For five days and nights / the windows have worn veils of thin water.
The stars go out/ as though a bluetit the size of the world /were pecking them out / like peanuts out of the sky’s string bag.
He’s carrying a scythe/ but he’s young / he doesn’t notice symbols
That’s it, said the stag, and buckled his legs, and fell over
the mad, clever clown’s beak of a puffin
I think of Roddy drowned / off Cape Wrath gulping / fistfuls of salt
the road hemstitched on the skirt / of a mountain.
A fork of barnacle geese came over, with that slow / squeak of rusty saws
He went along the line / relaxing them / one after another / with a small knife
How fast the line of cold, dead candles grows.
Look how they put their wax heads in their hands
we were destined to live like stones / warming ourselves in the sun
to fall like Jessica / who fell down a well and watched / the the bright disc of the / sun and moon slowly passing
The village bell’s been broken for a month
Old honey wails for a mouth
I’ve been thinking too much about the night
I slipped and the coal scattered on a snowed drive
Three masts will grow on the green ship /before she leaves the quay
Up the slow hill a squabble of children wanders
He lies, his eyes quarried by glittering fish,
Staring through the green freezing sea-glass
At the Northern Lights.
He is the Sparrow, the Friday lord.
I hoped to be the watcher on the rooftop,
but he was first. I’m flake of his fire,
leaf-tip on the world tree
A woman bribed her way in/ with a bucket of meat, and fed them like fledglings
God says, Let there be no light.
Starlings think it night, celandines shut their petals.
trees in Westridge Wood stand frostily waiting.
(U A Fanthorpe)
Or you might find them in a prose text…like the start of Hilary Mantel’s “Bring up the bodies”
‘His children are falling from the sky’
Or in a nonfiction writer like Robert Macfarlane…these are from “The old ways”
The cold like a wire in the nose.
Snow caused everything to exceed itself
starlings…feathers sleekly black as sheaves of photographic negatives
big gulls…monitoring us with lackadaisical, violent eyes
a dolphin….a sliding bump beneath the water..like a tongue moving under a cheek
star patterns..the grandiose slosh of the Milky Way
gannets bursting up out of the sea…like white flowers unfurling…avian origami
(after a hard long hike)….feet puffy as rising dough
Here’s a treat. Before the poet Ian Parks understood the rules (mainly because he has no internet when the libraries are closed) he sent me this poem. I’ll post it again at the start of the online anthology after April 30. But you shouldn’t have to wait till then. And you won’t.
When This is All Over
While we were sleeping they were still awake.
While we were hiding they were in the light.
The cold dark angel passing over us
left nothing but the flutter of its wings.
We huddled in our places, locked from sight
each waiting for the hush that daylight brings.
So empty out the squares and thoroughfares,
make criminal the handshake and embrace.
There is no other future except this:
the bolted door, the window and the face;
all of our journeys cancelled or delayed –
and if we meet we cough instead of kiss.
When all of this is over we’ll creep out
astonished by the new world they have made.