Monday, April 14, 2014

What Catty Did Next

In the ongoing quest for sartorial independence:

 In Sherbrooke Forest, wearing the Meret - a great knitted beret pattern by Woolly Wormhead - a fast, easy and effective knit in some Noro I'd bought and was trying hard to knit into a lattice stitch scarf. Decided this was more user friendly and although you can't see it very clearly in this photo, it is lovely. I'll have to photograph it separately sometime for clarity. Also a new skirt - this is a tube skirt from a modified Ottobre pattern. Yes, the pattern sheets look like - I don't know, the confusing offspring of topographical maps that have mated with economic crisis flow graphs. But once you locate your lines, all is relatively straightforward. The stripey fabric was a freebie - leftovers from a sewing project of Mme. Rouge's. I coveted the fabric - it's silky - but couldn't work out what to do with her remnant. But I discovered by seaming two halves of the back there was enough for this tube. You can't see the stripey detail - indeed, this entire photo is notable for it's lack of detail! - but I like it. The final handmade element is the pair of handknitted socks, alas! another detail that is barely visible. But there you are - the whole look or the components? You got the whole look - with bonus forest tree.

On the needles: Rowan sock number two.
And just off the needles - bright socks, yarn unknown but singing colours - more socks.
Still reading Peter Ackroyd's Foundation - Volume One, History of England. It's getting a little more battered as I haul it from home to the Mothership's, to the bath, to the train....and I'm only up to the early 13th century.

Recent films seen: the haunting and beautiful Japanese film, Like Father, Like Son - which I found mesmerising. Also The Invisible Woman, interesting - and I must put the Claire Tomalin biography on my reading list (and I suppose that means reading Ackroyd's biography - does the man ever sleep? does he eat? does he smell any roses? I can tell you for sure he does not knit his own socks!) - but I thought the film lacked something. Fiennes made a hugely likeable Dickens and Jones was great as Ellen Ternan, but perhaps the structure made the whole a little forced - and those furious tramps across the Margate sands? The costumes were beautiful and the story was compelling, however.

Listening to: most recently, First Aid Kit, found by following Mme. Rouge on Spotify. Lovely! Also Laura Kaplansky found for me by Spotify itself and Pentangle - blast from the past and still as beautiful as ever. Trying to keep a note of these because I often just play the same stuff over.

PS. Just read that the History of England is going to be in six volumes. Six volumes!
PPS. Have just written in the labels and I can't help but wonder if First Aid Kit and Peter Ackroyd and handknitted socks have ever before mentioned in the same blog post?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Wulf and Eadwacer - Tuesday Poem

The translation of this poem I prefer - through familiarity, perhaps - is the one in Molly Peacock's book and is still in copyright. It's translated by Michael Alexander. There is also a translation in dear old Wiki and this is the translation I'm posting below:
It is to my people as if someone gave them a gift.
They want to kill him, if he comes with a troop.
It is different for us.
Wulf is on one island I on another.
That island, surrounded by fens, is secure.
There on the island are bloodthirsty men.
They want to kill him, if he comes with a troop.
It is different for us.
I thought of my Wulf with far-wandering hopes,
Whenever it was rainy weather, and I sat tearfully,
Whenever the warrior bold in battle encompassed me with his arms.
To me it was pleasure in that, it was also painful.
Wulf, my Wulf, my hopes for you have caused
My sickness, your infrequent visits,
A mourning spirit, not at all a lack of food.
Do you hear, Eadwacer? A wolf is carrying
our wretched whelp to the forest,
that one easily sunders which was never united:
our song together.
 There's a lot of information about this poem and its ambiguities on the 'net and if you're interested, I suggest you start here. I am actually up to about the eleventh century in Peter Ackroyd's Foundation, the History of England from its earliest time to the Tudors, but what is a hundred years or so between friends and poets. Clearly not much for this poem, with all it's yearning, speaks to us still.

Hop across to the Tuesday Poem blog! More poems! More poets! Lovely.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Harp Song of the Dane Women by Rudyard Kipling - Tuesday Poem

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker ? 
I've been watching The Vikings and reading Albion by Peter Ackroyd.  I think these have contributed to my choice of poem this week! Unfashionable as I am sure Kipling is, I do like this poem. Don't forget to check out the Tuesday Poem blog - it's our birthday and the birthday poem is up! Happy birthday Tuesday Poems and thank you so much to the editors of this year's birthday poem and everyone who forms our poetic community. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Week that Was

I discovered a poem I really liked - 'Le Zebre' by Robert Desnos - it's a beautifully structured poem and I only found it because I had to prepare a poem for my weekly French lesson. That, too, is well structured - Elaine makes half the class present something each week. It can be a poem, a recipe, a small account of your activities or a talk about something French. It's a gentle introduction to the week.

I finished making the Abby Cardigan - and I really should have a photo, but I haven't. I don't know what is wrong with my brain, but I could not make the facing work 'burrito fashion' so I ended up hand-sewing it.  My mitred corners aren't perfect, but heigh ho, I  love the fabric and I suspect I shall wear quite a lot as a between-seasons cardie.

I started knitting the 'Meret'. I suspect that my needles are a size too small and that the eyelets in my Noro are going to be less pronounced, but the colours are gorgeous and I'll simply go with a more subtle pattern.

Today The Accountant and I visited an Open Garden at Coldstream. Great views - but the gardens were very dry. The property boasts 450 rose bushes. I have no idea what these two are, but they were very beautiful.

 After that we had a picnic in a nearby reserve. Note the smoked salmon tart - one of this week's successful cooking ventures. 

And there's the Meret:

The cutlery set above was an op shop find at the op shop near the Mothership. I have the best luck at that particular op shop. Other buys have included:
Peter Ackroyd's Albion; two white openwork pillowcases with buttons at the back for only $5.00!; a black cardigan with a faux fur colour; work shirts for Mademoiselle Rouge; six little dessert spoons with matching forks; a brown ribbon knit cardigan with a fringe (I love a fringe!) and two casserole dishes the perfect size for casseroles for two.

On the down side of this week, the Mothership landed badly and may have cracked a bone in her knee. She's being characteristically philosophical about this, although I'm wondering how she'll be able to sit at the movies if she had to have a cast on it? We're in the habit of seeing a movie every week - this week it was Mr Morgan's Last Love - beautifully acted and great shots of Paris.

Also my new ASUS tablet keyboard mysteriously failed to work but after two days of stubborn inactivity, self-corrected. Mysterious and mysteriouser.

On the writing front? Despite interruptions, I'm halfway through Chapter Nine, which is a good place to be. 

I always sound quite chirpy on this blog, but it's not always so. I'm often plagued by self-doubt and quite often feel overwhelmed with the diverse range of stuff I do. But, at the end of the week, looking back, I'm often quite chuffed at how much activity sneaks in and how much is accomplished. Sure, this week I certainly haven't managed my hour a day French practise. My monthly hand-knitted sock quota might not be met and I haven't finished Chapter Nine - so what?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Poetry Circle - a kind of Tuesday Poem

I had a beautiful post already completed but because of problems with technology, across all my devices apparently, it has disappeared.Valiantly I shall begin again, to tell you about a new venture – the Poetry Circle. This was inspired by Molly Peacock's book How to read a Poem and Create a Poetry Circle. I read this years ago and was inspired by Molly Peacock's  way of deciphering a poem. She examines poetry in a writerly, rather than an academic, way which is both useful and inspiriting.

I had talked about creating a masterclass for published poets for a number of years and a colleague  suggested it become a masterclass for reading, rather than writing, poetry. (My original idea had been to both read and write - creating writing exercises from the poems brought to the group.) When I returned from overseas last year I decided it was time to enlarge my professional scope and friendship so I began to begin the Poetry Circle.

In March we met with the work some of the work of Sir Geoffrey Hill – three poems from the elusive and allusive long poetic sequence,  The Orchards of Syon.

Before we had even begun to discuss the actual work, issues of target readership, the debasement of language and the role of the poet came up. This to me pinpointed one of the benefits of a peer discussion - it goes beyond the given material into other areas of interest.

Hill's work is challenging – dense with literary allusions and religious references. I don't think I'm alone in saying I wouldn't have persisted reading this work by myself. But with the hive mind of the group engaged we could decipher much of what was confusing. Each member brings some different knowledge and passion to the group.  One member likened the process to brainstorming but I  hesitate to use that term as it implies a kind of cheerful chaos. While we were certainly cheerful, we weren't all that chaotic. The same poet later declared the afternoon to have been a treasure hunt - a very apt description. Although we didn't follow Peacock's instruction, nonetheless the poems began to reveal their treasures in a most satisfying way.

So, the poetry circle turned out to be everything I had hoped for – a meeting of friends, collegiate discussion, inspiration for future writing and definitely a broadening of my usual reading. Next month it's Anne Carson and I'm already doing my homework! 

Thanks to my friends in the poetry circle for joining and here's to many more meeting.

Now that you've decided you need a poetry circle in your already busy lives, pop over to the Tuesday Poem blog to further whet your appetite for all things poetical. This week's featured poet, chosen by Janice Freegard, is Nola Borrell.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not the tuesday poem

because I'm neck-deep in stuff. But do go over to the Tuesday poem blog and enjoy Zireaux's commentary!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Two Tribes by Sherryl Clark


Which two? Can you
name them, tell me
who they are?
Do they live together,
or are they at
each other’s throats?
This world, so bent on
assimilation, so vocal
about fitting in,
wants one tribe,
one way of living.
Drums beat, words spin,
you climb into an aeroplane
and flash across
a web of countries,
flying over people
you never see.
Try this – live with
the other tribe
without knowing their language,
their customs, their version
of courtesy.
See how well they treat you.
See how well
you treat them.

First published in Trust Me (Ford Street, 2008)
Thanks to Sherryl Clark for permission to publish this poem. 

Sherryl Clark has two collections of poems published by Pariah Press - Edge and Thicker Than Water. Her verse novel Farm Kid won the 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for children’s books, and her second verse novel, Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!) was an Honour Book in the 2008 CBCA Awards. Her most recent verse novel, Runaways, was published by Penguin Books in 2013.

Anyone interested in Australia poetry written for children and young adults should check out this new website. Congratulations to Di Bates for all her hard work promoting Australian poets working in the field of children's literature!

Don't forget to check out the Tuesday Poem blog. Moira Wairama is featured this week, guest edited by Andrew Bell - and there is more poetry to see if you check out the sidebar.