Monday, March 02, 2015

Tuesday Poem - Poppy-picking by Robyn Rowland





Poppy-picking 





for Meral, Bozcaada island/Tenedos, 2013





Not the soft wrinkled skin of old men –


papery, easily torn – or the crumpled blooms in our town plots.


Upright as tulips, Turkish Red Poppies are firm and sure,


they need just four petals, bright scarlet,


red as red can get, each with its eye kohl-black.





We are laughing like children,


racing through fields-full, higher than our knees.


They crowd the narrow roads of your island


spilling across runnels, under fences


as if they were once water, spreading in a flood.





We are poppy-hunters, poppy-picking.


We run ahead of the other women,


driving to lane’s end, friends’ building sites,


competing for the best field to harvest.


You hold them hostage with talk while I grab and gather.





We pluck the four petals. Pollen-loaded stems are


shocked, naked, worrying how to attract bees.


Velvet along our fingers we recall our babies’ skin,


filling bucket after basket, harvesting till your small green car


is loaded with the lightness of their feather-weight.





At the house we wash them outside in basins.


Small creatures emerge to be purged,


bits of grass, poppyseeds, perhaps enough


to charm a winged monkey, put a lion to sleep


on their trudge behind the rainbow.





Over and over we rinse them, the spring heat on our backs,


flowers ruffling and crinkling in our cool hands.


It’s like washing silk shirts. The pot in the kitchen 


is boiling its sugary clouds. Your secret ingredient


that I am to take with me ‘to the grave’ is wafting old Morocco in.





When the jam is ready it cools into dark-claret shades


ready to sit in my bags with poppy lokum, red-poppy syrup,


travelling back to a country where red poppies only ever meant


grief over fields full of the bodies of dead young men,


a generation of women left unmarried, alone.





Now – you say to me – when you see red poppies you will think of these –


friendship in spring; wild flowering and its fruit; gelincik,


which means lovely young brides in their ladybird beauty,


black eyes shining with happiness; the touch of red velvet,


of sunshine, wet silk; the sweetness of jam on the tongue.



 Robyn Rowland

This Intimate War. Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915Içli Dışlı Bir Savaş. Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915, is written by Dr Robyn Rowland AO and translated by Dr Mehmet Ali Çelikel. Published here with permission of the author.


Initially drawn to Turkey by her Turkish sister-in-law, Robyn began work about its landscape and history in 2009. During that work she has been a guest of the Turkish Australian Cultural Centre and the Australian Consulate in Çanakkale, and there learned of the Turkish history during the Gallipoli (Gelibolou) war. Beginning work on poems about the war, Robyn realised her limited knowledge on the Turkish experience and its relationship to Australian history. Her manuscript of poems on the war is enriched by the translations of Turkish translator Dr Mehmet Ali Çelikel, with whom she has been giving bi-lingual readings in Turkey. 

Dr Robyn Rowland AO received a Literature Board grant to complete research and write poems on Turkey. Australian-Irish poet, she has read and taught workshops in Ireland for 32 years. This Intimate war. Gallipoli/Canakkale 1915 (Five Islands Press) is her seventh published collection of poetry. Another, Line of  Drift will be published later this  year by  Doire Press, Ireland) 

This Intimate War was launched tonight, but unfortunately family commitments prevented me from attending. I'm sure it was a highly successful evening and I'm envious of everyone who could attend! Raise a toast to a brand new poetry book sailing into our lives and, when you've toasted to this book's success, hop over to the Tuesday Poem blog where you can partake of other poems. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Things done, doing things.


A little kimono vest for a baby. And the baby wearing the vest. How lovely it is to knit something that provides almost instant gratification! This is a very easy knit. It's the Sachiko Kimono Sweater turned into a Sachiko Kimono vest for a hot climate baby. What I would do in future - and I think I've thought of this in the past, as well, is to make it as seamless as possible.


Sewing has happened as well. This is an unironed Vogue 8876, complete with slightly wonky collar - although not as wonky as the photo suggests. I do like the different panels and seams in this.

 
I'm making another one as soon as I finish the Motherships replacement RattyOld Dress. I have buttonholes and handsewing to go on that and, who knows, today might be the day!

I feel that my sewing skills are improving and I'm determined, this year, to buy only the clothes I simply don't feel I can make. Given that I have two still serviceable swimsuits and quite enough jeans, this should add up to zero clothes bought this year.

On the knitting needles is another Lanesplitter skirt. I get so much wear out of my Noro Silk Garden version of this skirt that when I saw this Rowan
Tapestry for sale on Ravelry, I snaffled it up. I adore pinks but can't often 
wear them next to my face. So this is a perfect solution. It's a discontinued yarn made of 70% wool and 30% soybean protein. It may be a bit prickly but I intend to wear it with tights or leggings. Who knows, I may even line it. I have quite a bit of a plum coloured very thin stretch fabric which would
be okay with this, I think.

Next item for show and tell? The plyed yarn on the left. It's some bright bright roving I've had for yonks, dyed by Ewe Give Me the Knits which I've plyed with some natural grey.  Who knows what I will eventually do with it? The grey yarn could be Corriedale? And it's not particularly soft, so you wouldn't want it next to your skin.

Finally, more spinning. This is a batt from Ixchel Fibre dyed by the wonderful Charly. It's absolutely beautiful - the colours and the fibre
 mix make it a dream to spin. I'm a little late for the February spinalong with this but made a start last night while watching the end of Death Comes to Pemberly. Note that I tried to do that wrapping around a coin thing to show off the yarn's width but it didn't quite work. I'm really happy with the way this is spinning, however.

I have two batts of this and I don't particularly want to ply them with each other, so I'm wondering what I can do about that. I haven't really anything in my fibre stash that would suit the colours. So, I may end up simply plying it on itself and using it for a small shawl, or even as striping in a larger shawl.

Despite so much making, writing continues. I am about to begin Chapter Sixteen of the young adult love story! So delighted by that.

And of course, reading continues. I do recommend Hilary Mantel's collection of short stories. Brilliant. I'm trying to borrow as many books from my local library as I possibly can this year and using the 'Hold' system with alacrity.  What a lovely sentence this is:
Buried in the grass we talked: myself monosyllabic, guarded, eight years old, wearing too-small shorts of black-and-white check, that had fitted me last year; Mary with her scrawny arms, her kneecaps like saucers of bone, her bruised legs, her snigger and her cackle and her snort.

from Hilary Mantel, 'Comma', The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,  Fourth Estate, 2014.
Read it aloud - there is that lovely moment of poetry 'kneecaps like saucers of bone' and then the bold  rhythm of those sound nouns at the end.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who  more faithless?) 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever    renew’d; 
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?  
Answer
That you are here—that life exists, and identity; 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
 


 
There are just times in one's poetic life when one needs a blast of Whitman, I reckon.


When you feel sufficiently blasted, check out the Tuesday Poem. Today's poem is brought to you by guest editor, Zireaux, and it's a song by Fiona Apple. It does rather seem appropriate to have a song as the featured poem today and be talking here about Whitman.  



      
I'm reading Hilary Mantel's short story collection, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Brilliant! 
 

 
Also, The Buddha Walks into the Office by Lodro Rinzler. Thought-provoking. 

 
I would recommend both books, the latter particularly if you feel you're floundering at work, or if you simply want some kind of work/you reality check, or, like me, if you're always looking for ways to work differently - with greater calm, more empathy and more in tune with the way you live your non-working life.
                      

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Poem Blog - 'Shore Grass'

Shore Grass by Amy Lowell

The moon is cold over the sand-dunes,
And the clumps of sea-grasses flow and glitter;
The thin chime of my watch tells the quarter after midnight;
And still I hear nothing
But the windy beating of the sea.

From: Honor Moore, editor, Amy Lowell, Selected Poems, American Poets Project, 2004.

This poem reminds me of Stradbroke Island where we used to spend a week, sometimes two weeks, every Christmas holidays. This was years ago and the island was not top to bottom resort back then. We used to stay at Clayton's Cabins and the generator stopped at 10.00 pm so the lights went out! There was a small general store and surfies, who would frequently camp in the caves on the cliffs to save money, lived on milkshakes and hot chips from the store.

It was a walk along the cliffs to Point Lookout where there was another, slightly larger store. We'd buy iceblocks there and watch the surfies from the clifftop. Once I saw three sharks, quite visible in the clearest water, circling around a surfer. There was nothing one could do from the cliff except watch. He surfed in, but there were stories...

I love beaches at night - the shadows on the sand, the dark, glittering water and the track straight to the horizon made by the moon.

Do have a look at the Tuesday Poem blog this week which features an intriguing section of a longer narrative poem, 'Pen Pal' by Sugar Magnolia Wilson. It's great! I read it and immediately downloaded the pdf. Kudos for Cats and Spaghetti Press, too, for doing something so beautiful and then giving it away. Thanks, too, for Helen Rickerby for posting this - she's this week's Tuesday Poem editor. Sugar Magnolia Wilson's work makes my fingers itchy to write. (And what a wonderful name!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Poem

Some days you get these happy finds. Yesterday, trawling around in my computer looking for something completely different, I came across a handful of poems I'd forgotten I'd even written. They were meant for a verse novel for young adults I had abandoned in favour of a completely different project. Now that I've found them - who knows?

Highways

Down the Calder and it's all the same
yellow drought fields
Maccas like a circus tent
and all the doll's houses
for the little people
who slam the front doors
at 7.05 and again at 6.45,
home in time for the news.
Then over the Bolte Bridge -
blue shimmer of the bay
a holiday postcard
but I keep going
through the tunnel
out again
more yellow,
no Salvation Jane
cows, a bit of green
and a cloud.
Not icecream scoop pretty
no ballooning deb dress
or dragons hidden it -
just thick cloud
and no rain on the horizon.
No rain at all.

Have a look at the Tuesday Poem blog where a poem by David Gregory also evokes landscape but couples this with an undercurrent of loss. Helen Lowe is this week's Tuesday Poem blog guest editor.

Monday, February 02, 2015

'Lost Property' by Jennifer Compton - Tuesday Poem



Lost Property

Somewhere in the city
I lost the knitting
the sentimental wool
I had unpicked to reknit.

The colour scheme was alarming
but that was what my mother chose
when she was still capable of crochet
so I held my peace and flew her colours. 

I had been warned of an imminent loss
the knowledge of loss had thrummed by 
so I kept checking I had everything
one hand delving in my shoulderbag.

And more than the knitting is the pillowcase
made by my husband's mother, now deceased,
she had run it up from a summery cotton frock
with two ties at the top to keep the knitting safe.

My hands know the scarf in progress intimately
I was working away at the royal blue stripe
plain and plain and plain and plain again and turn
the yarn between my fingers running like smoke.

As I rose to leave my train at Upwey Station
a thud of portent hit me – something missing -
my soft bundle pierced by two sharp needles.
And my hands, now, disconsolate as ghosts.  

 Jennifer Compton, This City, Otago University Press, 2011.



 I've posted another poem by Jennifer on the Tuesday poem hub as I'm this week's guest editor, so I won't say much here except that this poem really resonates with me. I have lost knitting on public transport but, as in this poem, it was not the knitting itself that was the real loss. 

Congratulations to Jennifer Compton on the publication of her new book,  Now You Shall Know, Five Islands Press and many thanks  for allowing me to publish this poem and 'Like A Butterfly' on the Tuesday Poem blog this week. From this hub, you can waltz from poem to poem - enjoy.