Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Poem - 'Windrider'

Years ago, when I first started writing young adult stories, I realised I had an idea I wanted to turn into a novel, but no notion of how to begin to write a novel. I was a poet. I didn't quite get plot. I didn't really understand how to structure a novel. But I could write poetry sequences - I'd been writing poetry sequences for nearly a decade. It was a short step from a poetry sequence to a verse novel. So, my first two novels were verse novels for young adults which was, I admit, a pretty niche market. I was lucky enough to have an editor who believed in this form, had published work by another young adult verse novelist, Steve Herrick, and accepted my work with alacrity. Since then, I've written prose novels for young adults, middle readers and younger readers and my awareness of a novelist's techniques has naturally improved.

Ages ago I decided I wanted to write a fantasy novel. The first attempt didn't really work. Or, didn't work to my satisfaction. I ended up giving one of my central characters to another book - Mimi and the Blue Slave. But recently, I decided I still wanted to write a fantasy novel. So, I've gone back to the way I like to learn new things. I've decided to attempt a fantasy verse novel. A very niche market!

Here is the world premiere of the first poem from that attempt, posted today as a Tuesday Poem. Comments invited!


He was standing on the boat
fighting the big fish, playing it
even as it dragged him into deeper water
Everything shrank to the fish
churning the water
its wake foam and blood
and the salt stinging his blisters
blood pooling in his palms.

Even when the fish surrendered
rolled over in to the net
it fixed him with a relentless eye
as though it would pursue him
through nightmare waters.

When he looked up again
the sky and the horizon clouds churned
in grey foam and the wind hammered in
from the wastes. He stood again
legs still shaking
and threw a windstone into the sea.

He was the windtamer, windrider.
But when he was pulled to shore
the King's men were there.
They were waiting for him and no other.

Tears pooled under his eyelids
and spilled onto his cheeks and he woke
to the taste of salt. Cursed the clear spirits
that hammered his head and kicked
the bottle away from the bed.

Windrider stuck under this mountain
no winds down here save for the foul ones
that tunnelled up the mine shafts
sulphurous as demonbreath.
Prisonholder, holed up in his own prison -
and the stone walls of his own stubborn head.
A new prisoner and Keeper to greet and house.

Ableth, windrider, cursed again
the day already hammered
and home only the lingering salt in his mouth.

Catherine Bateson, June 2012.

Hop on over to the Tuesday Poem blog for other tuesday poems.


AJ Ponder said...

I love the telling of stories through poetry - and this one is great - reminds me of some of the epic poetry of old - good luck with the novel aspirations.

Penelope said...

Very cool indeed. I'm reminded of the albatross of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And a pinch of Grendel, perhaps. I also went to sea with my poem this week! But nothing was caught.

Incidentally, do you like to be called Catty by total strangers?