Another sonnet. Highly conventional (and probably dull) in terms of stanza structure. This was written, for the most part, ages ago but forgotten. I found it recently, and wanted to complete it. However, in the interim I lost what I wanted to say. The second quatrain is newest, and I’m not sure it fits the rest.We pare down meanings with thick blunted knives Discard crude flesh, expose the deeper bones They rattle wicked death o’er jangling life And laughter mocks the grave, the pauper’s throne Condensing truth into the barest spark To burn beyond our feeble watery light As lightning blazing strikes the mortal heart Then vanishes in vast immortal night No words immortal linger in the dust No song remains beyond time’s stronger call A siren sumptuous luring us to trust As starker echoes haunt once hallowed halls Fast legacies elude the grasp of proof As barren silence speaks the silent truth
She was, he thought, like one of those creatures – what was it, a water boatman? – that hovered, resting lightly, on the surface of people, when they were completely still, as one uses the stillness to see the deep, undisturbed. She reduced the psyche to an ice cube, collapsing dimensions, making all visible.
He hated that in her. As if character could exist in stillness! He was reminded of a time, when he was a boy – his mother had berated him in terrified relief – when he had lain down by a bog, and inched forwards, suspended over the still, false, shifting solidity. He had balanced an egg timer on the surface, watching it slowly sink, timing its own demise, until eventually the sands had slunk down, vanishing not into the other bulb of cased glass, but into the growing pile of the mire. He had, on impulse, lowered his prone head, as one who wishes to create ripples, slow, turgid and reluctant, on a pond. But stillness – that was his point, at last – was never a feature of character that could be abstracted from his presence. It was her aims inverted. His intrusion did not disturb a stillness and, as it did not disturb, brought about no change. Instead, it revealed the slow, ever-churning menacing currents of the depths.
This is something I found on my laptop from last summer – presumably, given the style, from a time when I was reading something by D. H. Lawrence. The rest of the text is a work, just barely, in progress…
I write poetry. Sometimes I dally in prose, but my attention span’s stamina staggers breathlessly towards the shorter lyric.
Amateurs don’t get audiences. Often this is because we don’t deserve the standard model, but sometimes just because opportunity never seems to exceed demand.
I want to make this a space for sharing. At least, I hope to share. You may join me, or send me links and I’ll look up your own writing on your own territory. Consider one’s typical audience. In my case, there’s a fan, who believes in my work. There’s also a supporter, who at least believes in me, even if the work itself is irrelevant to this faith. Then there are others who are apathetic. And others whose reaction is not elicited.
I would like to make this a space for commentary and criticism. Pretty much of any kind, to be honest. However, I would propose the following two criteria for minimal response as a starting point.
- State your favourite line/phrase
- This can be purely a matter of enjoying it; it doesn’t have to be the line with the perfect metaphor, or assonance, or imaginative spondee…
- State your least favourite line/phrase
- No matter how much the writer likes it, you may not. I think it should be ok to share. My writing never sounds the same in my head as it will in someone else’s. It’d be great to know, for once, what doesn’t work.
Hopefully that’s simple enough. I love the sound of poetry, I love the construction of a whole from units. Let’s start a criticism that seeks to identify the units that work best.
I’ve been writing for years now, and I’ve watched, with greater and lesser degrees of consciousness, my voice grow and change. It currently seems to be unifying. It’s currently expanding; it’s taking inspiration from more constant immersion in the works of others. As such, when I throw the saturated mess at the piece of paper, what can be seen is the shape of the sponge, rather than the incomplete shapes of partial influence dotted sporadically across it.
Regrettably, this analogy captures the fact that my writing is still rather soggy…
However, there is a degree of satisfaction in watching the formation of something both external to me and expressive of me. And I enjoy seeing the shaping influences at work in what I write. I love other poets. I think my favourite for the past year has been Wallace Stevens, who replaced Eliot in my affections, but I love the modernist period in general. But what I loved most was reading the theory, seeing how the written output is the reflection, or perhaps more accurately the embodiment, of what they believed writing should be, had to be. There was an imperative to express things, and to use expression itself, and modes of expression, to capture as well as convey challenges and solutions.
It’d be nice to think, just maybe, that finding my voice is actually instead finding what to say, and, yet more fundamentally, discovering how to see.
Write a journal.
It’s not much by way of advice, but it’s often all you get. At least they don’t say diary. In a life where routine is not just punctuation but plot, a text-bound realisation of monotony is hardly an effective inspirational device. ‘Journal’ at least can expand to accept thoughts and ramblings as entries. But thinking is far more pleasant with just a window and a comfy chair; add in a pen/computer and you limit the thoughts to articulation and notation. I guess I’m just too impatient to restrain my thinking so that I may inform myself of my own thoughts.
It’s all rather pointless anyway. Even with talent there’s little money in writing. And I’m reliably informed that stripping and prostitution are morally suspect. So here I shall freely lay bare (some of) my thoughts, expose my hollow linguistic forgery, for you poor unfortunate(s) unluckily bored enough to stumble upon them.