Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Poem


Why did the day break before it began?
The dream still fermenting, the sudden rain?
Then you, muttering behind the door
you jerked shut.

I walked around the man-made lake.
A cormorant dived, making the water dance.
I was not lonely as I pieced the day back;
         this corner of sky
         a piece of green bench
         that edge of dark wing.

Catherine Bateson, 14/04/2015

This poem was, partly, inspired by the first class of How Writers Write Poetry which is a Canvas MOOC from the International Writing Programme from the University of  Iowa. Robert Hass is one of the first group of poets to talk about 'Notebooking, Sketching, Drafting' which is Session One of the course. I had heard him before as I enrolled in this MOOC last year, as well. This year they seem to have added some poets and I so enjoyed it last year, I didn't mind hearing the sessions again. Hass suggests beginning a (two-line) poem with a question and then answering it. I'd been fussing around with this poem all afternoon, trying to make it work and going off on tangents. Finally, after watching the video, it came together.

I like questions. I try to use them in my everyday communications, too. They open up possibilities.

As does the featured Tuesday poem. This week it is Leilani Tamu with a powerful, plainsong poem, 'Aotearoa Runaway'. You can read an article  by Tamu here - and it is interesting to read this alongside the poem, not only because it talks about incidents in the poem but because it displays another side of Tamu's writing. 'Aotearoa Runaway' has been curated by Tulia Thompson, and she provides a  perceptive commentary. Please read it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Eek - behind!

I'm lagging behind with NaNoWriPo - two days with no poems. But I'm pretty philosophical about that. Here's the 7th poem - written on Wednesday 7th April.

Death's Mid-Wife

How we love David Attenborough.
He is god's voice. The dinosaurs,
woolly mammoth and moas
would reform instantly, grow hide
and feathers for his beaming approval
if only they could hear his rich wonder
at their very bones.
When I die, I want his voice
counting me out, death's perfect mid-wife,
delivering me back to mingle with the endlessly
marvellous earth. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tuesday Poem


Cockatoos wheel and tilt in
delighting the fearful tourists
who hold out dishes of seed
as the birds, all beak, gnarly claws
and greed, ruffle their feathers on parade.
Further in the forest small birds flash in and out,
their beserk scolding stops when we speak.
Later it will rain - the sky's iron-grey.
Look up through dizzying stands of mountain ash.
Beneath them, so small,
we are put in our proper place. 

All week, my poems have been filled with birds, forests and sky. We're hosting two young German couchsurfers and, walking with them, I've looked at my own world through tourist eyes. It is beautiful in the Hills and we're supremely lucky to live so close to the forest and to be woken, every morning, by birdsong. Recently, Keith's seen an owl, or a Tawny Frogmouth swooping silently through the night when he's taken Honey, the lab, out for her evening trot. Today the rain's falling but we've already walked and I'm home, wearing the shawl I knitted in Paris and thinking about finishing my Easter socks. Much to be grateful for - including the holidays! (And finishing Chapter 16 of The Novel.) If only I could remember these states of grace when I'm deep in the mire of stress, self-flagellation or just general crankiness.

Do visit the Tuesday Poem. This week it's 'Darkroom' by Erica Goss - and this richly evocative poem is followed by an interview with Goss and her partners in the Media Poetry Studio project. Such an innovative and exciting project! Many thanks to Michelle Elvy for featuring Goss. While you're looking around at poems, take a look here at the work of one of Goss's collaborators in the Media Poetry Studio.

Scultpture by William Ricketts.

Monday, April 06, 2015

April Poem 5

from: 'Remember'

Remember you are made of stars
even in the darkest night
or the relentless day,
shining up each blemish.
It is difficult to imagine -
the stars so far away
you with psoriasis,
perhaps, or just bad skin
and hair that won't and don't
talk to me about breasts, thighs
or even feet can be problematic....

Poem 4

The crows gather in the carpark
cough like old men.
Some days here - just here -
feels like the top of the world,
despite the supermarket and broken glass.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

April Poem 3

from: 'Autumn'

The cups are on their saucers
the dog sleeps at one end of the rug
the house minds its manners,
steadies for the winter we'll fill
with soup and thrillers.

Friday, April 03, 2015

April Poem Number Two

from: 'Why Things Don't Work'

It is mysterious why things don't work
and we do not have the answers
perhaps apologetically.
Nonetheless, sir/madam we suggest
that you stand outside on this clear night
- look up -
now tell us again
that nothing works.

Catherine Bateson 2/04/2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

First April Poem

I've decided not to always post whole poems here, but rather to always, the following day, post a taster of what I've done. Sometimes this will be the whole poem, sometimes a few lines, sometimes even the impulse or exercise behind them.

Yesterday, from a poem called 'W is for Wings':

In my mother's garden,
neglected chaos,
the watering can abandoned
beside a tree we agreed to cut down,
a gardenia dwarfed by some nondescript shrub
(metaphor for many women's lives)
only I see - if I close my eyes -
   a sweet Eden...