Left the mortal remains of one of Britain's most interesting kings: Richard III. Helen's poem, charts the exciting discovery of his body found in a car park in Leicester in 2012 - here he had lain undisturbed, since the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Caroline brought in an interesting poem this evening. It was based on a series of articles written by Andrea Elliott in the New York Times: Invisible Child. Her poem charts the difficult life of an 11-year-old girl living in the projects in Fort Green, Brooklyn. Dasani the girl in the poem, lives with her parents and seven siblings in a public shelter for the homeless. Caroline’s poem explores the poverty and the squalor:
'where the mice run and the cockroaches linger.'
In a couplet that bridges together the first two cinquains, we are the told the child got her name from bottled water (this product which her mother could not afford, hinted at the possibility of a better life.) The poem charts interesting insights into the little girl's life such as how:
‘she drags her brothers and baby sister
across town to counseling, for the
The child is trying to raise $80 for the ‘school trip.’ Caroline's poem picks out pertinent details, such as how important it is for Dasani to blend in with the other schoolchildren and not to be ‘labelled’ as from the ‘projects.’
The lovely thing about this poem is that Caroline manages to convey the strength of the family bonds that hold together this extremely dysfunctional family, as well as the optimism of youth. It’s a tough neighborhood, where bullying is rife and keeping face means everything. In a poignant penultimate stanza, the narrator comments how Dasini is ‘fighting’:
‘… to break the cycle,
stop the spiral. To climb up and out,
not be left behind, but not being left
will mean leaving…’
Will Dasani be able to break free from the chains of poverty when she grows up? Will she be able to stay away from the drugs endemic in her culture? As she grows up, will she be lured into having more babies and repeating the cycle of her mother and rehab father, who goes by the street name Supreme. Will she be able to turn her back on everything she knows and break free? These are the types of questions Caroline's poem attempts to address.
The second poem we workshopped today was called: The Deal and was about hydraulic fracturing - a controversial technique used for fracturing rocks by highly pressurized liquids so as to obtain gas.
There was a lot of interesting stuff in this poem, which was about the British Government sealing a multimillion deal on fracking rights. The controversy around the deal seems to be to do with the fact that recent scientific investigations have indicated that such engineering projects can destabilize the Earth’s crust, causing earthquakes and other geological disasters.
I love the way the narrator sets up a mood of tension in which:
‘Everything was stiller than a newly found out liar.
Only hearts were rolling blood in their boney caves’
Ultimately, the poem is an ethical polemic warning us of the danger of a ‘poisoned future.’ Cynically the narrator laments on the selling of licenses to frack for gas, using metaphor to push her point home:
‘and the water in the carafe shot up in the valve like the very last lion hide.’
Today, Liz workshopped her poem Partnership, which was an hilarious examination of modern roll-reversals in opposite gendered partnerships. The narrator, explains how she wants to have both a career and a child, she proposes to do this by re-ordering her family unit, by changing the man in her life into her baby’s mother. She remarks:
‘… she can be attached directly
to your guts, and that will do.’
She even promises her husband, if he shaves his body hair then ‘milk will be there.’ She then snidely remarks:
‘That means I can work mending holes in the road.’
She even expects him to ‘sing lullabies’ in ‘castrato.’
The poem ends on a wonderful note – whereby, the narrator requests that her partner clean behind the cooker, which has been left to gather dirt for a couple of years.
I thought the poem was tongue in cheek – a good after dinner poem, to stir up humor and debate between guests. Liz assures me it was written in all sincerity – as a response to Radio 4’s: Woman’s hour. I will after take her word on that!
Mary’s poem this week, was titled: As Above. Its stanzas charted the recent storms, which damaged the sea defenses and tore apart the Welsh Coast.
Her poem took its title from the Hermetica - a spiritual book attributed to the Egyptian Demigod Thoth (Father of writing and knowledge). The Hermetic philosophy states that all events in the macrocosm cast their reflections and have their equivalents on earth. Christ when he said, ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’, was expressing an hermetic idea. This age-old principle of sacred unity is ancient and we know it was known to the Ancient Greeks such as Pythagoras and the rhapsodist Xenophanes.
The narrator uses the sky as a kind of universal barometer for the subtle and shifting moods of the ocean. She describes the terrible power of the storms that hit the coast at the beginning of the year and how:
‘seawalls [were] ripped from their moorings.’
Eluned contributed a finally crafted poem about the intricacy of stonewalling and the skill needed to lay each piece in it like a finally crafted jigsaw puzzle – where the hole structure is ‘balanced between stone and gravity.’ Both builder and narrator seem to be searching for ‘some definition of the finite point.’ Much is packed into the poetical prose of this five sentenced, sestet.
One of my favorite poems this week had to be Heather’s poem about Richard III. This wonderful poem, wove two septain’s together to produce a sharply written work. I loved some of the tight phrases in this poem, such as:
‘…a rain of
Bosworth blows to shatter a dynasty.’
The piece takes us back sixteen generations to the life and death of this mysterious king whose body ended up in a pit. The writing was keenly observed, the images well chosen - the text contained an economy, which to the reader felt very satisfying.
Tonight I showed the group my satirical poem If – which is a parody of the famous poem by Rudyard Kipling. All suggestions were helpful – I shall read it at next week Chinwag – January 15th.