Talking Poetry by Jenny Strickland
Clough, Margie: At Least the Duck Survived. Margie is a delightful local poet, whose poetry is about real life and people we recognise. e.g.
Here it is almost night and the west wind
is blowing blobs of rain against my door;
my fingers stiffen and my feet get cold, but
where you are sitting colouring a picture
of yellow sunflowers to send to me
the sky is cloudless and
the sun is rising.
Duffy, Carol Ann: The Other Country. Duffy is Britain’s Poet Laureate. Her latest collection The Bees has the reviewers all abuzz. (Sorry!) Not in the Library yet and not easy to find in SA. She uses vivid language and her poetry is accessible. E.g. from Away From Home“
“You put down your case, and blurred longing sharpens like a headache”
Edited by Carol Ann Duffy: Answering Back. This is available here (from Kalk Bay Books). Various poets were asked to choose a poem written by someone else and then write a response to it.
Billy Collins chose W H Auden’s
Musée des Beaux Arts
About suffering they were never wrong
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…
Billy Collins’ poem Musée des Beaux Arts Revisited starts
“As far as mental anguish goes,
The old painters were no fools.
They understood how the mind
The freakiest dungeon in the castle,
can easily imagine a crab with the face of a priest…”
Like Margie Clough, I enjoyed Ian McMillan’s choice and response to
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Ian McMillan responds with The Green Wheelbarrow
To be honest, not much depends on this.
My dad just left it by the side of the lawn
When he went to pick me up when I fell.
His spade and fork sat in it waiting
For him to return; like my mother sat
Looking through the window
Each night, waiting for him to come home…….
My dad picked me up and I stopped crying.
I’m crying now, dad. I wish
I could sit by the window and see you coming home.
Go on, push the wheelbarrow again!
Let me hear the music of the squeak!
Lewis Watling, our 92-year-old local Scenic South poet, has done something similar with this poem from his collection Out of Dark Spaces.
A Thing of Beauty
I’ve often wondered how John Keats could praise
those gifts of beauty that his numbered days
must nullify while still his heart was young,
and all his unlived songs be left unsung.
Was it that in his poet soul he knew
his spirit’s words would nourish me and you
and renew themselves again, again, again
to reveal a hidden beauty trapped in pain?
Now in my tenth decade I can avow,
my poet’s wish is to express the Now
so that its substance will not disappear
as long as lambent words can reach a listener’s ear
for Beauty created carries endlessly
essence of the breath that’s breathing me.
(See also under http://scenicsouth.co.za//showcasing/our-writers/
I’ve been reading through a collected edition of Wilfred Owens’s poetry called The War Poems – though, as he was killed five days before the end of WWI, aged just 21, (his parents received the news on Armistice Day), he didn’t write much else. The best are the much-anthologised Anthem for Doomed Youth –“What passing bells for these who die as cattle?….”.- and Dulce et Decorum est, which exposes the lie of ‘glorious war’. I’ve read a lot of heart-wrenching novels set in WWI but Owen catches at one’s emotions in so few words. I thought The Letter was simple yet so moving. One can just picture the chap writing to his wife with a blunt pencil and lying to reassure her –
“I’m in the pink at present, dear.
I think the war will end this year.
We don’t see much of them square-‘eaded ‘Uns……”
and ending with him speaking to his friend
“I’m hit. Take ‘old. Aye bad….
Write my old girl, Jim…”
And one more. I heard of Edward Thomas only recently and then saw a collection of his poetry at the charity bookshop in Main Road. He is known as a ‘War Poet’ because he was killed in France in 1917 but he was then 39 and most of his poetry is about the English countryside. Perhaps his best-known is
Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Simon’s Town Valentine’s poetry competition winners and their poems