Wednesday, 21 May 2008

'Workshop Exercise' for lazy buggers

Step 1 : read a sonnet to your computer (in a foreign accent) using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Step 2 : sit back and enjoy.
Step 3 : edit, if you must, and submit to magazine of your choice.

There it is

Sister had become lost too.
Listen here. So she was.
Journalists faced the guard to risk blue:
see our editor's. He had it serious,
now I remember having to pursue has beens
to whom I played as in a guest snack band.
The smaller uncashed cool went too
and briefly mouldered on into the light.
Esther Puente did enough with my game
aesthetic silence and then you quietly came
to put blights. You made a line of rice
upon my creepy head. Say the rest
now integrated darkness and small night out
your Kennedy, a second-hand theme must quiet.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Dragon update

Dragon behaving better today. I read him poem this morning which seemed to reign him in the little. We had fun with Nusrat Frosty Ali Khan. That is Nusrat Cutie Ali Khan. That is Nusrat Batty added:? Let's try once more: in the Stratford in the Khan. No! Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Well that was fun.

National tackling drugs week, apparently

The National Treatment Agency tells us that it is national tackling drugs week. I suspect it will end up with more ranting about crime figures and tackling the availability of drugs in our communities. Apparently there will be an emphasis on informing people about the types of treatment on offer and the work but done by different agencies around the country. If so, this will be a good. I wish there was more work done on awareness of addiction itself and the patterns of behaviour that lead to addiction. The last thing we all need is to focus on working class young people and the crimes they commit to feed their habits. We need to be more aware of addiction across the classes and across the races, whether people end up in prison or not. The focus on crime constantly leads the eye from addiction in the wealthy classes, minimising and ghettoising the issue.

Sunday, 18 May 2008


This is very comfortable but quite bizarre. I find it disorientating to type with my mouth rather than my hands. After two years of, at times, chronic of RSI I have finally bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking and have spent the afternoon attempting to train the thing. But how to train a dragon? Without the help of Harry Potter? Gosh it recognizes Harry Potter.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Back to 'Community'

I am making my way into Matthew Francis' book about W.S.Graham, managing to reach the end of the section on community this afternoon (after collapsing into bed for several hours, insisting my husband take the children out for a while). Francis explains Graham's need to write as a drive to recover the community that he deliberately removed himself from. I am fascinated by the presence of the (m)other that Francis draws out of Graham's poems and his depiction of language as feminine, as the muse. Francis draws parallels with other works inspired 'lost' working class childhoods, including classics by Hoggart and Raymond Williams. I also find myself picking up Steedman (Landscape for a Good Woman) and flicking through the Anat Hecht Chapter of 'Home Possessions' (Daniel Miller ed), which is about a woman collecting in order to remember a childhood in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh:
The buildings' five stairs of tenements were located in the centre of what was
locally known as the 'Wee World'.
The naming of the 'Wee World' is so evocative of everything Francis is drawing together: the lost, ideal community with clearly defined boundaries with the Mother at its centre. Hecht's subject 'Nan' is removed from this community first by evacuation during the war and then permanently by the death of her Mother a few months later. Nan's life seems to have been about recapturing and preserving the early memories before her Mother's death. This yearning to locate in the space of the lost Mother is present in Graham's work and is the central theme of Bracha L. Ettinger's psycohanalysis.

Drained Parent ...

Even after seven years as a parent, I'm still stunned by how much time is not my own. The baby has been ill this week - a combination of cold, teething and eczema. She has been going to sleep at about 11pm, after long days of grizzling. Then, suddenly mindful that I am trying to read several books at the moment, I select one from the pile and fall asleep in it. A few weeks ago I had even started writing again - that all seems a distant memory as now all I have time for is a bit of posting on Poets on Fire and digesting the odd poem while cooking the dinner.

Having said this, my mind is busy making maps ..... more of this later. Child number two needs to be read to most urgently.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Language and Community

I've wanted to read Where the People Are: Language and Community in the poetry of W.S.Graham by Matthew Francis for a while. It arrived this morning and I've managed to read the first chapter (while nursing a sick baby). Language and community being very much 'my thing', I approach this with enthusiasm. However I am aware that I have quite worked through (or worked up) ideas about what poetry is and what it does. I find myself hoping that I don't bring to many preconceptions to the reading of this. Francis sees Graham's poetry as occupying a stance similar to Derrida's; there is an awareness that the act of writing creates a absence and distance in time and space. The act of writing about writing in a poem, Francis argues, is itself an act of deconstruction. (I am guessing that the trace of Graham's community of origin in his writing will be important in Francis' analysis.)

Francis illustrates the pain of separation in the poems, but resists the Lacanian spin that I dive into immediately; that Graham's poetry illustrates the experience of loss in language and an attempt to recover the lost object through the act of writing. Towards the end of the chapter Francis writes of Graham's writing as seeking control and love (isn't it true for everyone?). This feeds my fascination for Winnicott's theories about art forms as transitional objects; the poet experimenting with the 'not me' - forming relationships beyond the self- through poetry. Oh dear. Preconceptions alive and well.