Monday, October 31, 2011

a First Draft says it's not quite ready to come out yet

Yesterday I wrote the first draft of the poem I spoke of the day before yesterday. The poem came easily enough once I had a quiet time to begin writing. It felt good to get the words down. The problem is, I'm not quite ready for it yet, and it's not ready for being released to the public yet.

These things happen sometimes. I think the fact the poem is about something so personal, that also relates to other people I love, means I have to be more careful with my words than usual. Getting this wrong feels like it could hurt other people, and maybe hurt me too.

So, it may happen soon, or it might only be a thing between me and the words of the poem. Whatever happens, the writing of this poem feels like it's helping me.

Writing about a loved one who is now dead seems like a normal part of my grieving process. I wrote a sonnet that I read at my father's funeral a year ago. The sonnet helped me say what I wanted to say, and I was glad to be able to give a copy of it to my mother.

The poem I'm working on now is not in any formal poetic style, but it still conveys much of what I'm feeling inside about my father. It's all a little difficult because the Dad I knew and loved has been gone for much longer than the year since his body died. Dementia took Dad away slowly but with a cruel steadiness. His mind slowly left us and we struggled to find hints he was still there.

I'm afraid to say I had difficulty in seeing Dad in the vacant face that looked unseeingly at me when I visited. He was gone, and I could only wish it wasn't so. I hope this never happens to me, or to anyone else I know and love. Dementia would have to be one of the cruellest things there is.

Writing these words is a conversation happening in my mind, and on the page. I do some of my best thinking when my mind is in charge of my fingers, keying in the words. If I didn't do this, I don't think I could stay OK.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When the poem calls, but you're not sure you're up to the task

Yesterday I met with my mother and Greg, my younger brother, to deal with my father's ashes. Dad died a year ago tonight, and the time had come to do the task.

My father was a successful harness racing trainer for much of his life. He had his funeral service at Globe Derby Park, which is the major harness racing facility in South Australia. Dad had many successful races there during his training career.

Globe Derby Park is also the place where the ashes of my older brother, Jeff, were placed. Jeff was Dad's reinsman, driving the horses to many wins. Jeff died at the age of 33, nearly 18 years ago.

So I drove to Mum's place, and along the road I kept seeing metaphors. Crows, and the bodies of dead birds in particular, were a recurring theme for the initial part of my journey. While I was driving, I was thinking about the poem I would write in honour of the event. The scattering of ashes is a powerful thing, full of thoughts and images and feelings.

Once I arrived at Mum's place, we found out where Greg was and met with him at the track. We took the ashes to the finish line and Greg released the ashes. There was a breeze to assist and I felt a deep sense of rightness as I saw the ashes leave the urn.

Once Greg had nearly emptied the urn, he gave it to Mum. We all walked over to Jeff's memorial stone and stayed with Mum as she released the last of Dad's ashes. They were laid to rest next to the stone, amidst the rose bushes there. It was easy to imagine Dad and Jeff finally able to get together again to talk about horses, as they often did when living.

The rest of yesterday was taken up with poetry, the Poetry Readings at the Pub in Gawler. I'm on the committee that runs this event, which happens once a month. I continued thinking about the poem I had to write, but wasn't able to write it. I had a strange happy/sad afternoon. I was tied up with the goings on, but also tied to what I'd done in the morning. I felt good taking my part in the proceedings, so wasn't resentful at not having the chance to pen my memorial to Dad. I felt I could easily do it when the time was right.

Now though, I'm sitting at home with not much to do, and I still haven't written down any words. I feel almost afraid to start, in case I mess it up. There are several things I've said I'll do today, and they are affecting me in some way and the words don't feel ready to come yet. I can still feel them though, sitting within and warming me with their love.

This is a thing that I want to do, and I need to do. This is a thing I will do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A poem snuck up on me

The poem I'm going to post here crept up to me today, and said, 'come on, write me down or type me up, tinker with me, but not for long, then come on, post me, I wanna be on the internet'.

I make no claim to greatness for this poem, I'm simply putting it here because that's the way the poem wanted it. I'm not the poem, though some of me is in the poem. I'm simply the one who hits the keys and claims the copyright.

So here's the poem, perhaps insufficiently edited, perhaps perfect, but most probably somewhere in between the two.

Kitchen as metaphor

In my kitchen are signs aplenty
I am lazy/slothful, coffee-drinking
I eat both junk and healthy stuff
Neither insects nor dirt frighten me
I recycle, reuse and waste
I don’t mindlessly scrub, rub, dub dub dub

Your kitchen may be
quite different.
You are not me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writers need to get out sometimes!

Pounding your keyboard is all very well, but sometimes a writer needs to get out and connect with the real world. Yesterday I did just that.

A new friend and I got together for a coffee and chat at a local venue. The main part of the morning wasn't about the culinary experience. The coffee and raisin toast I had were good enough, and a good price. That wasn't what it was all about.

The morning was all about friendship, sharing, writing and creativity. My new friend met at a workshop at the SA Writers Centre and connected again by phone last weekend. We decided to catch up, and so that's what we did.

I felt energised when I was talking and looking at some artwork my friend brought along. She is currently visiting this venue in the morning as often as she can. She brings her drawing bits and pieces and is creating illustrations for picture book texts she has written.

The work she showed me was charming and gentle, ideally suited to children's tastes. I hope to meet up with this friend again soon, and continue this friendship. It feels like a great thing to do, both for me socially and for my writing.

Friends are valuable things to have.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Own Crow Poem

A dear poet friend of mine has written a post on  his own blog. In it he posted a poem about a crow and on his Facebook page he said that every poet worth his or her salt has written a crow poem. click here to read John's Crow Poem

That started me thinking - have I written a crow poem? I thought I had, but decided to write a new one anyway. So here is my crow poem, untitled so far. 

I welcome comments on the poem, and also ideas for a possible title.

Crow’s mournful cry goes out across the paddock
sheep and wheat ignore the sound
and continue doing what they always do.
I pause and look up, and spot the crow,
alone, alone, alone. Then comes an answering cry -
another crow’s  plaintive call rings out -
first crow no longer alone, they strike up a lament
in tandem. I’m  reminded of my family inside,
waiting for me to return. There’s no need
for me to call out, they’re there for me,
they’re always there for me.