As usual Nigel was on form with his philosophical wordplays on life – his existential verse probing the meaning of Reality. Nigel’s contribution to the proceedings was a poem called: The Game of Rouns. A carefully written footnote explained the following:
“Roun from OE runian meaning mystery and pronounced as in ‘frown.’”
This ‘game’ the narrator informs us:
‘predates all ancient games…
[including] The Royal game of Ur
with its cuneiform rules and pyramid
We are told that in this ‘ancient’ game – each player plays himself, on a board sprung with ‘black and white trapdoors.’ As Nigel promised – he was again pursuing the elusive mystagogue in search of some profound metaphysical principle. I liked the cool wit displayed in this poem. The narrator reminds us that ‘pieces’ on the Board of Life have a tendency to ‘move themselves,’ leaving the player to face a ‘new endgame.’ His observations remind me of the French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard who talked about the deviancy of the universe and its lack of predictability. According to Nigel - some players give up while others cheat, as there is no ‘definite rulebook’ to this the most serious and meaningless of all games. The final stanza says – is it:
‘not enough to play without knowing
all the rules, since not knowing – not
ever – may be the first rule of all’
Nigel’s second poem was called: ‘The First Law’ – he was of cause talking about thermodynamics… A brief quote from Google should hopefully elucidate the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that:
‘the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed.’
i.e. the universe is self-governing and prevails through different forms, each of which is temporal, while the First Law’s principle in essence states that energy is everlasting, it therefore cannot be born or die. Paradox rebounds in Nigel’s short poem about life, death, and atomic immortality. It very much made me think of the Sixth Patriarch from the Zen linage, with its allusions to ‘dust’ and ‘mirrors’ there was definitely a Buddhist feel to the lexical threads in this text.
Using this principle, Nigel wrote six quatrains and a couple of couplets on the subject of universal transience. Through the narrator’s subtle pointing, the reader gets to contemplate on the universe – he thus uses the text like a looking glass in which to see himself and his own mortality in. The author uses an omniscient viewpoint in order to achieve his hypnotic and strategic affect. To conclude, the poet confronts his reader with nothing less than the never-ending recycling of all energy in the cosmic system. In this poem, the dead skin cells of a deceased man land on a mirror (possibly a symbol of the reflective medium of consciousness) and are wafted away by the narrator’s hand. The microscopic skin particles form into cloudscaped patterns. The ‘mirror’ is impartial, to quote the poet, the:
‘world moving on
as if the dust
had never been:’
It turns out that the ‘human skin cells’ are ‘inconsequential’ to the motiveless universe. Atoms from a dead man linger in the air and life carries on as a reflection inside a (cosmic) mirror.
Also on a similar existential theme the poet Marc Perry wrote about death and loneliness in his poem – The Solitary. Here
‘the shade is drawn on the day
and night trickles in.’
I particularly love that image that Marc presented to us about old age and been housebound or bedridden. Just like Death, the narrator, ‘stands waiting for time to end.’
In Gordon’s: A Nursery Rhyme? The village flasher goes by the name of Mr Strawberry, but he and the local lads calls him Mr Banana. The young boy’s mother demands to know why (the cherry-faced) Mr Strawberry has a new name? Embarrassed, the narrator stays silent, confiding to his reader:
‘But how could I tell her that?
I’d rather hit her with my cricket bat.’
Heather this week presented a poem called: S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). In this poem, she comments about the low quality of the favorite British soap, saying:
‘creativity becomes a barren field.’
While the narrator crouches on the couch feeling S.A.D. (and possible bored with the predictability of the plotlines) the cat passes by. The creature is happily purring to itself, in response the miserable writer remarks:
‘- give her
a barren field, she will always catch something.’
Sadayo’s poem this week explored the concept of inclusiveness and fitting in, her poem: A Cuckoo In a Water Garden is set in Westonbury, early June. Sadayo writes about an uncomfortable WI trip. A party of women are all expectantly waiting for the cuckoo to launch out of the clock and announce the hour. Perhaps it was the in-jokes or the rigidly middle class setting, but for whatever reason – the narrator feels a twinge of melancholy. Ass the title suggests, she feels like a bird dropped in the wrong nest, she says:
I might soon be one of them
for better or worse
in the name of ‘Integration.’
This week I work-shopped a couple of poems about 9-11, hopefully, these poems will be going into my new collection. Reflections on Absence are two sonnets written to mimic the shape of the ‘footprint’ left by the World Trade Center. Each square of text is a poetic reference to the newly designed memorial.
The second poem I contributed to the group was about a man who discovered on the Internet that is wife had committed suicide from the burning World Trade Center. Again, I formalized this poem into a slightly heterodox fifteen-lined sonnet. Sadly, it was based on a real incident.
I really enjoyed this week’s workshop and as always I got a lot out of our discussions on poetry technique.
Thanks everyone for a stimulating afternoon.