Monday, January 26, 2015

Tuesday Poem - Interlude by Amy Lowell


When I have baked white cakes
And grated green almonds to spread upon them;
When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries
And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter;
When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working;
What then?
To-morrow it will be the same:
Cakes and strawberries,
And needles in and out of cloth.
If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter,
How much more beautiful is the moon,
Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree;
The moon,
Wavering across a bed of tulips;
The moon,
Upon your face.
You shine, Beloved,
You and the moon.
But which is the reflection?
The clock is striking eleven.
I think, when we have shut and barred the door,
The night will be dark

from, Honor Moore (ed), Amy Lowell, Selected Poems, American Poets Project, 2004.

This is my first Tuesday Poem post for 2015! I've chosen this Lowell poem because of that lovely intersection between the domestic detail and the erotic. I'm also intrigued by the movement in the last part of the poem - does the barring of the door keep the moon/Beloved inside so the private space (domestic and erotic) is bright in contrast to the (sinister) dark night?

Amy Lowell was an Imagist and at the centre of the Imagist controversy. In 1915, in the introduction to her Imagist anthology she attempted to list the hallmarks of this poetry:

1. To use the language of common speech. . . .
2. To create new rhythms. . . .
3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. . . .
4. To present an image. . . .
5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.
She was the partner of Ada Russell and her poetry boldly declares the eroticism of this relationship, in an era when 'Boston marriages' were common but not sexually explicit. She was a lifelong friend of Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence and an adversary of Ezra Pound. She was a formidable worker, translating classic Chinese poems and writing a biography of Keats before her untimely death at 51.

Check out the Tuesday Poem blog for this week's featured poem and navigate the menu of Tuesday Poets for other lyrical delights. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Sunday Wrap-Up

What a week! Two workshops, a wedding and, sadly for The Accountant, a funeral. I didn't attend the funeral as I didn't know Andrew particularly well. I did, however, attend the wedding yesterday - spectacularly beautiful bride in the most gorgeous dress and a very proud groom by her side. I think weddings are gloriously optimistic events. I do love the frocks and froth. They are sentimental, gushy occasions and that sits a little oddly with the fact that many of the parents at this one were on their second relationships. I suppose we approach them with the hope that the young won't make the same mistakes?

I live in a neighbourhood where three of my neighbours married quite young (one very young) and are still in those marriages. I sometimes find it sad to think that The Accountant and I don't have that long history between us. On the other hand, I'm (usually) grateful for what we do have; swimming together in the morning, our mutual Poirot obsession, breakfasts together on the back deck, nights at the cinema or out for dinner, trips away.

I feel that in the middle of the first month of the year I should do a little check on how I'm progressing with the Great Big Health and Happiness Plan.

Triumphs? - Craft and textiles, sewing, knitting - all have gone well. Made linoprint cards for Christmas, have attended two textile workshops and have a sewing workshop booked for February.
Failures - Challenges - I've done some writing, some revising but not as much as I wanted. French is waaayyyy behind. A whole section I spread-sheeted called (optimistically) 'Organisation and Structure' - that has yet to happen!

You know what? In the larger scheme of things, I feel it's travelling nicely. It's not quite as calm and inviting as this:
Claude Monet, 'The Luncheon'. This is, really, how I want my life to look. Beautiful objects on a shaded table, flowers and a sense of abundance. There's a bag on the seat and I bet it contains knitting or needlework or a book.
but at least it's not like this:
Degas, 'The Absinthe Drinker'.
Even her hat is dejected and check out that shoulder slump.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hundertwasser felting

Yesterday I attended a felting workshop at the Victorian Spinners and Weavers' Guild on Hundertwasser-inspired felting. I had already picked out Hundertwasser's work for a different felting workshop a couple of years ago, the title of this had led me to choose it for my Christmas present from the generous Mothership. It was great - working with pre-felts, we then chopped them up and rearranged them to create something akin to our original take on Hundertwasser. This was the first time I'd ever used the window framing technique to hone in on a small piece of an art reproduction, so that was useful, too.
 These are photos I took in New Zealand of the Hundertwasser toilets. I insisted on dragging The Accountant there and then spent an enormous amount of time in the women's with my camera!

 What I love about this work is how accessible it is - he uses mosaic tiles, bottles and bright colours. He hated straight lines and endeavoured to have no visible in his work.

 Below is my Hundertwasser-inspired felt. I doubt that you would be able to recognise the original inspiration if you found it, but I'm okay about that. I do love working in smaller bits of felt - I've made larger pieces before but this way of cutting up and then felting pre-felt until it is is felted is new to me. The stitiches you can see are a way of helping inserts of pre-felts to felt together. This piece isn't finished - and I have no idea what I'm going to do with it when it is finished. But I did enjoy making it and I certainly am keen on doing some more!

 Robyn Steel-Strickland was our tutor and she was informative without being bossy and encouraged us all to play boldly. Lots of fun! Now I have to spin furiously to free up my bobbins for Saturday's lapsed spinner's class.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Catch Up

'Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you' - Maori proverb

To be a better blogger is on my Great Big List of Health and Happiness for 2015. So far, I haven't done that very well! However, a cold that arrived on Christmas Day laid me so low that I surfaced to drink champagne on New Year's Eve but other than that, I did a few small things each morning and slept most afternoons.

I have, however, been sewing. It's my aim this summer to have a temperature appropriate wardrobe, banishing the ubiquitous Melbourne black wherever possible and eschewing knits for linen and cotton. So far I have palazzo pants! Beautifully cool for summer, most of a linen shirt finished and two pairs of leggings nearly finished. Most of the fabric was purchased at the Cleggs Boxing Day remnant sale. Pants for $18.00? Yes, please!

We're also planning a garage sale - nothing like clearing out in the New Year. La Belle Mademoiselle has christened it the Bohemian Garage Sale - I'm not sure that my old knitting magazines are particularly bohemian, but maybe if I throw in a couple of incense burners? There will be books. Verily there will be books. I've decided to do a cull of cookbooks as well - to make room for some necessary vegetarian we eat more veggies. Of course they're necessary!

Writing wise - the Great Big Revision of the French novel continues. I find that I have useful revisionary thoughts lap-swimming in the morning. These are about to be post it notes in the now printed out nearly-finished novel. Then I'll surge on with the story.

This is the year I want to let go anxiety about writing and simply do it. Well, really every year I aim for that, but this year I feel that surely I am older and wiser and can actually achieve this? Let's hope so. Anxiety is such a paralysing force when you're trying to write - or do anything.

As I write this four wrens are bathing in the bird bath outside the study window. They are sitting right in the shallow bath, fluffing their feathers and splashing happily. That's what I'd like writing to be like this year!

And for you, too, gentle reader - I hope 2015 is a year of joyful immersion in whatever you do.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone, particularly my friends and family, readers and writers,  the Tuesday Poets, fellow fibre enthusiasts and sewers, a very big Happy New Year. May your celebrations fizz with excitement - stay safe and greet 2015 with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Highlights for my year include (in no particular order) attending the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show with dear friends, having a piece of work published here:
completing NaNoWriMo, completing some inspiring MOOCs, rediscovering my spinning wheel, doing a sour dough breadmaking course at the Red Beard in Trentham, making some clothes I wear a lot and doing a Christmas linoprint - not that it looks particularly Christmas-y. I was delighted to go to Canberra and do a poetry reading there and also loved my time in Bright with the Accountant.

Me and my 600 page excel spreadsheet guide to Health and Happiness, 2015 are looking forward to the new year. Such a good time to reflect, learn and move forward. I absolutely love it! So fizz away, my lovelies, and welcome in 2015 with style.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry (sniffle) Christmas (cough)

I suppose it's completely okay to come down with a head cold on Boxing Day? At least it's a day after Christmas, right? It just feels like a cheat when the weather today is quite beautiful and sunny. After a bout of pleurisy laid me low a couple of years ago, I've learnt to treat even the common head cold with respect. No heroics for this camper! And, because head colds tend to also reduce me to a snivelling whinger, I've tried my best recently to move beyond this sad state by doling out my energy and revelling (soggy tissue in hand) in small accomplishments.
  1. Office cleaned
  2. New book downloaded on Kindle for bedtime reading.
  3. Lunch eaten
  4. New fabric washed and hung out on line
  5. Short nap
  6. French verb cards begun
  7. Reading time
Christmas was celebratory, as it should be. I was particularly delighted to give out some unusual presents, including theatre tickets, a Borneo Orangutan Survival membership and other orangutan items, including a square metre of rainforest as well as fulfill some specific requests. Although not all my presents were indie or home-made, books or local (which is always my aim!) enough ticked those boxes for me to feel like a balanced consumer.

It was supposed to be my year of elegant wrapping. Ha! That was an enormous, messy fail! However, I did lino print my own cards and I was delighted with the way they turned out. I'm itching now to get to an art supply shop and buy some more ink and a proper roller. Something to look forward to when I'm feeling better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Storytime - Tuesday Poem

It's the storytime Christmas party
And the library is knee-deep in children.
Above the babble and the one screamer
a child earnestly demands, 'But why?
Why did the pig fall in the water?'
I admire his narrative persistence.
The answer - the author thought the end correct -
won't do, the pig has a new owner for now
and the pig's fate will be rewritten.
How I envy the young storyteller!
Like a film in reverse, the pig's back on the swing
kicking up his hooves in the sunny park
he's stopped pushing his brothers by the lake
and arguing over the sailboat. All drama is erased
but the pig is happy and the young editor
although not versed in plot
clearly understands contentment.

Catherine Bateson, 2014.

When you've visited here, check out the Tuesday Poem blog and read today's featured poem, 'A room of books', by Rethabile Masilo, a regular Tuesday Poet. Narrative intersects narrative, poems speak to and around each other. Lovely!