Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sunshine in Normandie

At last the rain seems to have stopped for a day or two. The sun is spilling over the edge of the field and orchard, everything is growing like there is no tomorrow. So woke up in a different space – golden and soothing.
Yesterday went swimming with Anick and my neck and head survived it so I’m feeling more confident in the improvement. So now to a more disciplined life of eating and exercising, stretching between writing and reading, small gardening tasks and…..well it’s a wonderful life.
I have nearly finished reading through Neil Astley’s Bloodaxe anthology ‘Being Human’. It’s taken a couple of weeks but I just wanted to read it like an ordinary book although I attended to its extraordinary passages too. What I like about this anthology is that most of the poems are new to me – lots of American poetry, translation, eastern, antipodean, so that I have kept meeting new poets and poems every day. It’s a funny way to read poems, one after the other, although I do actually read most of them twice. Next run through maybe I’ll read aloud the ones I really like – I think about making a recording of my favourite poems so I can lie down and listen to them.
I’ve just got a copy of some of David Jones’s poems on CD and am going to listen to that today. Kay and I both enthused by Penny’s poem about Vexilla Regis – the ancient hymn – and David Jones’s wonderful pencil and wash drawing which we all know from Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. I found different versions of the hymn on line and one is particularly beautiful – I think by Purcell. I listened to it again and again but now it has slipped away somewhere into the dim regions of the computer and I will have to find it again.
I have found myself writing a lot about journeys – its sprung from Ha Noi – which is giving me dreams and entangled thoughts and emotions about war and suffering. Today I wrote about the journey from the ice of Skardu to Gilgit where the blossom was on the trees – it was a very important journey and I have tried to write it and tell it a number of times but this is the first time as a poem. I might post part of it into my poems section, not put anything in there for a long time but this is partly because nothing ever really feels finished enough at the moment. I am into pruning and shaping but the poem doesn’t stay still enough sometimes for me to sense the poems inside the words – it’s like the way people talk about the sculptor finding the truth of the image inside the wood or stone. Today I will add some more poems when I have worked on them a bit. I think I have found the end of Ha Noi; it’s been a strange journey this one. Lots of things that keep rising up in other poems seem to have found their place in this long narrative poem. I am enjoying writing it very much but it is much more difficult than I anticipated. At least now I have started to share bits of it which helps to get a distant perspective.
It’s so good to be back writing without pain – a lesson learned I hope, all advices noted!

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post retreat post

The retreat was wonderful, I stayed and really appreciated the long periods of silence and no communication, looking out at the mill race and going to sleep to the background of water roaring over stone.  No demands of the object, no sense of domestic intrusion or other things to do.  I started to work more concentratedly and the evenings, after lovely dinners, we all met together to share our writing of the day.  This was the very best part of everything for me, after missing the interaction with the Falmouth poets so much.  We talked intensively, listened very hard, suggested, amended, embraced each other literally and through our work.  I sent off to Rialto Nature competition and to Southport and best of all had an audience that really helped me to see what I was doing with Ha Noi 2000.  The downside has been coming back with very bad arthritis that has settled in my neck and head and makes it impossible to think, write or even read.  Tonight the first night I have been able to think of writing on the computer and already I realise that I must stop soon.  Frustrating to now want so much to write, feel like I can do it and then physically find it impossible to actually use the computer or look at the screen.  The upside of this – I sat and listened for a long time to Bach on Radio 3 – not able to distract myself with any other activity I entered the music in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  I learned something there certainly.  Now I have learned how long I can type for and it is now time to finish.

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