Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jen Campell Poetry Series - Dissect a poem

In this series Jen dissects a poem and encourages you do do the same and compare notes in the comments field on Youtube. For this first video she chooses Margaret Atwood's This is a Photograph from the collection Eating Fire.

You don't have to own the poem because all the poems Jen will be featuring will be available online. Enjoy

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Red Room Company - Caitlin Maling reads "A Small Thing"

Another video in the Poetry Object Series 2016.  For further information check out the project page here


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 34

A shot from my
afternoon walk
Much like last week, this week also ended up generating some pleasing results. You can see for yourself the poem that I wrote on Sunday

I also managed to catch another interesting episode of the Poetry Says podcast by Alice Allan with Lisa Brockwell as guest. 

Brockwell mentioned something about the broadness of the "church" of poetry as she has experienced it while living in the UK.  I found myself nodding along, thinking how much I have enjoyed some of the Scottish poets I have come across courtesy of the SPL Podcast. How I have broadened my understanding of the way poetry can be approached/practiced. 

I note too, that Stuart Barnes' collection Glasshouses should have launched by the time this post goes to press. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of it.


The Writing

I seem to have fallen into a groove or at least I am managing to sustain about four hours a week. This week I managed close to four hours on the Sunday which has become my day of writing and I I slipped in some extra study this afternoon.  

If I can maintain this for the rest of the school term I'll be happy (of course I'll be happy if I can write a poem every week but history shows that there's sure to be another trough coming along soon).

Having a poetry spark to ignite the writing worked for this week's poem, unfortunately there's nothing that has sprung to mind for the coming week, so I am expecting to have to do a bit of inspiration fishing tomorrow.


The Study

Speaking of fishing I stumbled across A Way of Writing by William Stafford wherein he likens looking for inspiration to fishing.  It's a short essay that articulates his approach to writing and I found it chimed nicely with the way that I am writing at the moment and what I am discovering about my own practice. 

Paraphrasing to a momentous degree I break his approach down into:

  1. Find uninterrupted time to write ( he used to get up early in the mornings)
  2. Write whatever comes and keep on writing
  3. Be prepared to write a lot which will never see the light of day
Unsurprisingly he was a prolific poet.  I do find that this process works though.  The hardest part is the writing of course and developing the ability to mute the inner editor or perfectionist, to accept that you may spend a lot of time producing a lot of work that seems like it was for nothing.

He was also of the view that a poet wasn't the recipient of any special talent, that good poets and writers had just exercised a facility that most of us have.


I also began reading Denise Leveratov's On the Function of the Line. An important essay for anyone writing free verse I think, even if it just gives you a theoretical underpinning for the use /placement of line breaks that many develop by ear. 


Close Reading


I completed Tobacco Road by Brian Johnstone, which strangely enough is a fairly good example of the use of line breaks as Leveratov outlines.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 4:00 (371:45) hrs


poem writing = 1.44 (167:16) hrs

close reading =0:40(75:52) hrs

technique/theory 1:10(85:18) hrs

reflection = 0:23 (28:58) hrs



Poetry written:

1(33) poems completed


(0)15poems in draft


1 poem abandoned


1 poem facing execution at dawn



Poems Submitted:


0(16 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(8) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)



Rejections:



0(8) poems

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Poem - The Generation that Lived




The Generation that Lived
for “Mick” Daly

My Grandfather died, townsfolk still owing him:
bread, braces of fowl, eggs. All traded
for a lifetime of odd jobs - sleep-outs,
cladding and decks; milled in his work shed.

He was of that generation that lived
through two world wars and depression.
People payed what they could afford and when.

And when it came to the end
money only bought a better plot
of dirt that you couldn’t enjoy.

My Grandfather died; he’d been loved,
worked hard, raised children, lived.

by SB Wright

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 33

121 New Zealand Poems
and
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
A much better week, still not managing to get to the writing on a continuous basis over the week but it is amazing the boost you get from finishing a poem and one that feels like it might be publishable.

I managed about an hour more than last week and most of that was close reading.

I also happened across Ledbury Festival and their podcasts. A good store of poetry from this year -  poet's reading and talking about their work as well as critics delivering interesting lectures.  

Check the page out here. You might also want to search for Poetry Salon if this link doesn't take you there - Poetry Salon).

I am very near to sending out some more subs if I can find time this week.

I must also send a shout out to PS Cottier who created this wonderful poem from a quote in one of my Year of Poetry posts: A short wander through the head of a poet.



The Writing...

followed the pattern of a good run at it on Sunday and a short session the following evening.  I outlined in this post my success last Sunday and the lessons learned so I won't repeat them.  I did try and enjoy the feeling of closure associated with this poem and tried to stretch that out for the entire week. 

The close reading also sparked off an idea for tomorrow so I am riding a peak at the moment, noting and noticing it.



The Study

I completed reading and noting the chapter Madness, Rack and Honey in  Mary Ruefle's, Madness Rack and Honey.


Close Reading


Completed Broad Bean Sermon by Les Murray and began Tobacco Road by Brian Johnstone.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 4:25 (367:45) hrs


poem writing = 1.45 (165:32) hrs

close reading =1:10(75:12) hrs

technique/theory 1:00(84:08) hrs

reflection = 0:30 (28:25) hrs



Poetry written:

1(32) poems completed


(0)15poems in draft


1 poem abandoned


1 poem facing execution at dawn



Poems Submitted:


0(16 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(8) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)



Rejections:



0(8) poems

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Changing form and trusting the process

As my dedicated readers will note, since the start of working full time, the poetry writing has taken a substantial hit.  The drop from 8-9 hours dedicated writing/drafting per week, to less than 3, has significantly dented the writing mojo.

Not that I am complaining. As was pointed out by fellow poets, a 50% acceptance rate for poetry this year is not something to be worried about. No, it's more how I am feeling in relation to the writing on the whole.

I have observed over the year so far that generally speaking, there are peaks and troughs, some proto-poems work, some don't. The act of writing is more important than any individual poem. Much easier to let go of your attachment when another proto-poem comes along for you to work on.

Previously a poem that didn't work or one that I felt wasn't up to standard would have been done and dusted, moved on from or promoted to draft status within 3 days/ 6 hours at most.

The poem I have been writing and have just completed today began 3 weeks ago. It has been difficult to maintain a positive attitude to the act of writing when the long troughs stretch out over weeks and the peaks never seem to do the same.

Yesterday I was sure that after today's session I would be moving on. Yet as the process has shown, time and again, what may look/sound bad in one session can change in another.

This is a lesson I keep coming across, though it doesn't seem to stick.

So what changed between now and yesterday?  A good night's sleep, writing early? I think it was form; cutting lines in half.  Probably a combination. In any event, another lesson that I have learned and forgotten.

No doubt I will be able to copy and paste this post next month. So, in a note to myself:


  • trust the process it has a phenomenal success rate
  • if something's not working, try a good sleep, an early start and a change of approach or angle
  • cultivate some patience

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Month 8

Purchased this cast iron teapot
in attempt to sooth my
troubled soul
Not much more work done than last week and for the same reasons, although I did try and push on with a poem that I am on the verge of abandoning and so the writing time is slightly more than last week. I have tried to bolster spirits by listing to the Poetry Says podcast on my evening walks and purchasing tea paraphernalia. 

Sarah Holland Batt's The Hazards arrived from Booktopia this week but I have been too knackered to give it the close reading it deserves.  Bring on the holidays. 



The Writing  

was limited to last Sunday and Thursday and unfortunately I seem to be stuck at that point where I am not happy with the poem and its affecting my confidence.  I know from experience there are peaks and troughs but the lack of time putting pen to paper means that I am stuck feeling shitty with a poem for a much longer period of time.



The Study

I completed reading and noting the chapter On Fear in  Mary Ruefle's, Madness Rack and Honey.


Close Reading


None.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 3:34 (363:20) hrs


poem writing = 2.15 (163:47) hrs

close reading =0:00(74:02) hrs

technique/theory 1:00(83:08) hrs

reflection = 0:19 (27:55) hrs



Poetry written:

0(31) poems completed


(1)16 poems in draft


1 poem abandoned


1 poem facing execution at dawn



Poems Submitted:


0(16 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(8) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)



Rejections:



0(8) poems

Sunday, August 7, 2016

There is no poetry brain - a year of poetry epiphany.

I shall begin by talking about Maths...

no, comeback and hear me out.  I am currently studying a Stanford Online Course in how to teach Maths, particularly to young children.

Professor Jo Boaler became concerned with the fact that the latest research on how to best teach Maths; research on brain plasticity and Mindset were not getting to educators and so she designed this course to do just that. For me the course has had wider applications for my learning.  Here's her 12 min TED Talk.


So how does this tie in with my poetry?

Well,  I want to consider Fixed versus Growth Mindset.  I think we apply these to different areas of our life dependent on a range of things but I think for a lot of my schooling I had a fixed mindset.

Now having a fixed mindset, doesn't guarantee failure (indeed many successful people have fixed mindsets) but I think given certain circumstances it truncates your potential.

I was always "smart"at English, co-wrote a novelette in a weekend with friends and had it published in a Fringe anthology at age 15.  My first poem was selected for the end of year performance as part of a choreographed drama presentation.

And then I got to University and while still good at English, what could have been the start of a writing career dissipated.  Why?  Because the work got harder, and there were people I perceived (and who probably were, better than me) as not necessarily smarter, but further along in their learning and that in someone with a fixed mindset usually translates to a belief that you are not as smart as you think you are, that you are not smart, that you should not bother.

So while this Year of Poetry was not designed or undertaken with Mindset in mind I find it dovetails nicely into why it's a good idea to keep working away, making mistakes, exposing yourself to as wide a reading as possible.

I still catch myself getting dejected when reading good poems by people in magazines or publications that I would love to feature in, still catch myself thinking that perhaps I'm not smart enough.

The truth is, that there is no Poetry brain, just like their is no Math brain, just continual work and application. Poet's aren't born, they develop.

A shout out to Poetry Says

I have almost finished listening to the entire back list of Scottish Poetry Library Podcasts, seriously, this has to be one of the best poetry podcasts on the planet.

Always interesting, engaging and accessible in a way that the general public might think talk about poetry not to be.  I wonder how they do it in a country with a population smaller than Victoria, when Australia as a nation can't even manage to hold on to Poetica.

That gripe aside, I wanted to point you in the direction of Alice Allan's Podcast at Poetry Says.  Alice also works on the Verity La podcast so if you are wondering where you have heard her voice before, there you have it.

Both Verity La and Alice Allan's Poetry Says are the types of podcast I want to hear more of (and remember folks they do it for free, so give them a boost when you can).  Poets talking about their work and talking about other poet's work in a conversational manner that invites the listener in.

I love Allan's sign off on the Poetry Says website:

If you’ve got a poem you want to share with the interwebs, don’t be shy. Talking about poetry can be daunting, but remember: the Poetry Police aren’t coming after you. (I’ve checked. They’re drinking wine in a sunny courtyard. They’re not coming after anyone.)
 More please!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Year of Poetry Update - Week 31

New Arrival 
Not much poetry work done this week as I started my first full week of teaching. Prep time and exhaustion kept me down to just shy of 3.5 hours.

The Writing  

was limited to last Sunday and Tuesday night and while I did feel a bit disjointed/ distanced from the work, things had started to click by the second day. 

I am till working on my carving poem.  All things considered I am happy with it.


The Study

I completed noting the chapter On Secrets in  Mary Ruefle's, Madness Rack and Honey.


Close Reading


Following on from David Brooks Broad Bean Meditation, I began a reading of the poem it converses with, Les Murray's Broad Bean Sermon, which I think wins the award for the longest sentence in a poem I have ever read.



For the Statbadgers:


Total time: 3:26 (359:46) hrs


poem writing = 1.53 (161:32) hrs

close reading = 1:00(74:02) hrs

technique/theory 0:19(82:08) hrs

reflection = 0:14 (27:36) hrs



Poetry written:

0(31) poems completed


(1)16 poems in draft


1 poem abandoned


1 poem facing execution at dawn



Poems Submitted:


0(16 in total) poems



Poems Published:


0(8) poem



Live Performances:
0(2)



Rejections:



0(8) poems
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