Sunday, 7 November 2010

Writing Poems - Meeting Carol Ann Duffy and Billy Collins

I don't think it's quite worth saying how relevant it is to write poetry from one point of view of the world, where the single purpose for said writing is that single and actual functions; though every time I write poetry - it will come about like some kind of celestial or biological function - I'll write about five or so "good" poems, and what I mean by good is that I choose not to throw them away and believe that with the one good line in them they'll be forever remembered as that poem he wrote, and thus I cannot throw them away anyway.

But I've always been one to read Sylvia Plath, I love her use of language and I've seen it in no other poetry so I subsequently mimic that causing me to have written something totally cryptic that even I don't know what I have written (this happened in 2007 after reading Virginia Woolf for the first time, I didn't know what I'd written, I've not read her since). So the polar opposite to Plath I believe is Charles Bukowski, whom I also adore, and they are actually similar in that they both write confessionalist poetry (which I've written in an essay before). Bukowski made me write gritty and often vulgar language, but together I see my influence from the two. But I don't think it's quite worth saying that I read only these two poets, since I do try to read others, and one recent influence is now Billy Collins.

I saw him give a reading with Carol Ann Duffy. I met Duffy and spoke to her, told her I was doing a Masters and she signed her book Rapture for me, which I still have, but I went and got Collins' Sailing Alone Around the Room because I like his use of language, very slow and meditated like his voice, and the message/story that I neglect to put into my writing.

I wrote a poem I've posted called Three Men With Suitcases. I wrote it after I came home one night and three men with suitcases where in my way, but I was thinking to myself about a short story I wanted to write which I never got around to (it was going to be called Conversations with the Vicar, and was to be quite violent). My thoughts then moved onto these men in front of me, they were very strange, like tourists at night. In my tired state of mind I began describing smells as colours. The poem I wrote switches from outside and inside; with three men in suitcases in the way and getting past them, and inside with a man seeming to be freezing to death somehow.

I wrote this:

The best thing I ever knew
Was not yourself or what you do –
It was that time you got the flu,
Sat and said achoo achoo,
Covered in a dangerous heat
A swelling down to your feet
Skin white as a sheet,
Tongue a lump of meat –
The best thing I ever knew about you –
Not your eyes (that were blue)
Or your left foot (with it's tiny shoe)
Or your presence (which sticks like glue) –
It was your sickness inside of you
That made you want to sneeze
To explode or pop
And fall at your knees –
It was you and the time you had the flu –
It was always you and the things inside of you.

This was just something that came to me after reading some Collins and the idea that, with being sick at the time and most other people too, we're more sick than alive. And the result being, I more likely fell for the sickness than the person.

Another one:

The heat of me burns,
I glow a shade of red,
Maybe crimson or rose,
I swell and fill with dread;
Then numb to the knee
(and numb to the arm);

My skin is dried fruit
Or rotten apple skin –
Eyes are heavy,

A shadow is slit along
White wall like yin yang –

I then burst into confetti
As I drift into sleep.

This was a small thing I did to get me to write when I couldn't think of anything. When this happens I just describe my physical feelings. The confetti bit was an interesting image that came to me, the reason I haven't included it in my "good" pieces is because the first part is too weak and the end is paradoxical since 'burst' is the opposite to 'drift into sleep.' It's one of those poems that can't really be edited since a change in the metaphor will be a change in the entire thing, which isn't really worth it in the end.

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