Today we had an intimate and revealing meeting at City Voices via Zoom, organised and run by Debbi Voisey. Asking someone to bring along a piece of their favourite writing, be it poetry, fiction or non-fiction is asking people to reveal a little about themselves; as an extreme example Karadžić, the Butcher of Bosnia, wrote what was apparently well-crafted poetry (see https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ppx7zk/dictator-poetry) but one can imagine what most of it is about i.e. war, vengeance and bloodshed.
Participants today Adam and Christian, brought along their favourite classical poems, ‘The Cloths of Heaven’ by W.B. Yeats and ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake. Neither poets nor poems need any introduction from me. Christian had written his own tribute to the latter entitled ‘Panther’
‘Was it Lady Night that draped you/in a cloak of her anti-light?’ asks Christian.
We then had a discussion about sensitivity to light, and concluded that Adam and Chris were secret vampires. They didn’t look too upset about this, TBH!
Beverley chose ‘I Am!’ a poem by the tragic 19th Century labourer-poet John Clare, who ended his days locked away in a lunatic asylum, where Clare obviously felt like he had been written out of his wife and family’s lives. He suffered from severe depression and alcohol problems. Bev wrote a poem using the analogy of a discarded Teddy Bear to convey the grief of being left behind and forgotten. This provoked a good deal of discussion about parents, family and guilt.
Debbi bucked the poetry trend and entered the world of ‘Breathless Flash Fiction’ Wow! What does that look like? Well a bit like brilliance really. Debbi read the closing paragraph of a novel ‘Watt’ by Irishman Samuel Beckett (1906 -1989) the paragraph being constructed as one long sentence which dashes through the four seasons of the year – visual and quietly humorous. Not as easy as it perhaps sounds; it's much more than writing sentences and then pulling out the punctuation like so many bad teeth, and it's NOT stream of consciousness either. Debbi then read her own Breathless FF (the prologue to her Novella in Flash) called ‘Reversing Sensor’ about a man’s life and his decline into Alzheimer’s disease.
Sandy chose the Polish poet and 1966 Nobel prize-winner Wislawa Szymborska, whose poem ‘Flagrance’ made Sandy realise that ‘Yes, poetry is for me’. Flagrance is about two lovers and the objects around them – the tea cooling in the cup, shadows on chairs, the cooking stove … when she talks of a moth fluttering over her and her lover, "I didn't see, you didn't guess, / our hearts were glowing in the night." Szymborska has been accused of sentimentalism…… https://freebeacon.com/culture/hatred-knows-how-to-make-beauty/Sandy does not agree with this argument and neither do I, because love can feel like that.
I naturally chose poetry – firstly ‘Donal Og’ or ‘Young Donal’ translated from an anonymous 8th Century Irish Poem. All I can say is that the poem is about unrequited love and lies, and what we want to believe rather than the truth. Totally 21st Century in fact. My modern take on this poem is called ‘Girl Undone’. I also looked at the rather beautifully unhinged ‘Snow’ by Louis MacNeice, another Irishman, and a poem which has been analysed many, many times. Ultimately I believe it is about the oddness of life, the exuberance of the ordinary, and maybe getting a little drunk! My own poem in this style is called ‘Banana Tree’ and was part of my portfolio ‘We Are Water’.
Another two hours that went too quickly, and a great way to spend Saturday mornings. Please join us on Zoom on 1st August 11am to 1pm.