Monthly Archives: February 2014

..a word in advance of itself

‘L’inscription commencante d’une parole en avant de soi, a l’ecart do nous, vertigineuse, ressassante.’ this is Francois Dupin  and this is the translation by David   Shapiro  ‘The beginning inscription of a word in advance of itself, apart from us, dizzying, re-working.’

This excited me so much when I read it – it had the same resonance as W.S.Graham – the way in which words sometimes pull us after them, they find the seam and open it up before we realise.  I’ve done a lot of thinking about writing and words in the last three weeks.  The ‘knee’ experience has been both worse and better than the first time – worse because I knew what was coming, better because this time I seem to have avoided such heavy doses of anaesthetic and morphine and so have come to much quicker.  From the first day I have tried to keep a diary of how I feel, what is happening.  It’s pretty boring – a lot of a.m. wakings, but also thoughts and emotions too.  It has helped to keep a hold on things.  I am very frustrated at the moment – a domino effect yesterday – nurse comes and looks at the wound to dress it and is not happy, sends me off to the doctor.  Ditto doctor who phones the surgeon who says come in immediately.  I met him in the entrance hall of the clinique – go up to the third floor, ring for the nurse and I will come up soon he says.  He looks me over – thinks the infection is only surface, puts me on a morning and evening dressing of alcohol and I go to see him on Monday.  No physio – some small mercies!  I am of course enormously grateful for the speed and attention that it was all dealt with – within two hours I was back home again.  French health care is amazingly compassionate and efficient although the paper work involved is Kafka-esque.  So – here I am back again to not doing much, hurting rather a lot and being unsure that progress is being made.  On the other hand I have sent off six poems to Wings anthology, one to Poetry News, four to Artemis, sixteen and a submission to Cafewriters and I have four ready for printing for Rialto.  At last I am beginning to move things.  I still feel uncertain of the quality/revision but just hope that actually getting stuff moving will keep an edge on things.  the ‘vertigineuse’ shaking things up.

I intend to do an analysis of the writing I have done in my diary – see what patterns emerge, hopefully it will feed into some writing too.  I have been lucky with my reading too:  Maitreyabhandu’s Crumb Road,  Rialto, Poem, Agenda all reaching me when I was in hospital.  I am curious about the way in which our understanding, focus, intentions are diverted and subverted by the physical donkey body. I have tried to hold on to grounding and then working outwards.  At one point trying to see pain not as pain but as my leg finding a new shape, making itself a new space.  The delusions and nightmares are also interesting.  I often wake dreaming of having six legs, each one making a separate demand, and of being overwhelmed and adrift in a very alien and frightening environment.  Corpus and mentus I guess whirling around together.  I look forward to being able to write something wonderfully large in scape, ideas and thoughts pinpointing the word that is about to become at the moment though it is a relief to be able to write about the immediate and the boring.  If one didn’t write – I read Elaine Fienstein quoting a Russian poet – ‘don’t write if you don’t have to’ (this is a poor gloss but I haven’t the energy to go and look for the correct quote).  Well yes – I suppose that is what it is all about.  I do have to, I am so glad that many of my friends and those whose work I admire also have to.  I may dream six legs but I have three crutches – and one of them is words.



Filed under What's happening?

At the last moment…

It’s the day I’ve been dreading after a week that has been stressful and made writing difficult.  Today should be for rejoicing really, for it is the day when I go back into the Clinique de Notre Dame for my second new knee – after which there may be jolly dancing, long walks and general enjoyment of mayhem.  However I have not been very good in the build-up.  I have a long list of poems to send. I have tried to keep up with the 52 group of a poem a week though I guess now it will lapse for a bit. I posted my last response at midnight and I’ll add it here at the end of the blog.  I have been trying to write about how important poetry is and then, under the pressure of pain and dislocation, how it disappears and becomes so difficult.  And yet,  like writing a journal (which I have also not done) it actually is the life saver.  

I have been reading a lovely Bloodaxe publication – the poems of Jacques Dupin (in French) translated by Paul Auster and others. I try reading the French aloud, terrible accent probably, and then the translation and then going back to the French again.  It is so much more motivating than the awful ‘courses’ that I have about Airbus, Cafe going and family!  I have to get to grips with the language soon, and also with the culture because that is what I am really interested in.  When I am tired or stressed the French leaks away and I am left with Franglish splutterings, me who cares so much about words – it’s really not good enough.  So Dupin goes with me to l’hopital along with Rankin, Trollope (Anthony) and all the Kindle free downloads I have been saving up.  I hope that when this is all over there will be re-birth and re-generation of ideas and words.  Watch this space! Here is the first draft poem written after our small Quaker meeting in our house last Sunday.

Daisy comes to meeting


greets us as she enters with a throaty wruff,

lifts her big body round to nose each person,

fur softer than silk,

eyes wet  with doggy love.

We sit in our silent circle

Daisy stretches out along the floor

claws click, she harumphs down

towards a kind of sleep.

When looked at, or a foot moves,

her scimitar shaped eyes open,

bead us with its look.

Sighing she licks a paw, likes better

lifting her leg and licking more,

settles.  Now her head

with ears flattened

and nose along the floor

is like a mountains fox,

pinpoints under whisker.

We gather round her silence,

her Zen breathing, in, out.

Undisturbed by stress or speculation

she lets go easily

and we sail into the calm

on the lee of her smooth body,

her furry tail.

With a last, gentle sigh

she breathes us out of the light

into the everyday. 

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Filed under What's happening?