Gifts :  ‘You know well that love is, above all, the gift of oneself!’ Anouilh

 

I am very conscious of gifts at the moment.  It is being anchored in the house so that the gift of the flowers, blossom, sun on the wooden bench become intense points of pleasure and relief.  Friends and neighbours and family surround me with love and care.  Also I have been given a wonderful gift – it is a late wedding present – sometimes being dilatory and unable to choose between coffee machines or other things results in something quite special.  I am instructed by my friend Isobel to choose a poetry book each month for a year.  It is proving to be a gift for everyday – it takes about a month to become well acquainted with a book of new poetry – fast read, slow read, read from the back to the front, read individual poems.  The first gift was brought by Isobel and was ‘Muscovy’ by Matthew Francis.  I then chose February Maitreyabandhu’s ‘The Crumb Road’ and March John Burnside’s ‘All our Breath’.  April’s gift arrived a few days ago and was ‘Later’ by Philip Gross.

All of these books have given such pleasure, taught me so much, allowed ribbons of language to flow through my head, I feel ‘gifted’.

It was interesting to read Philip Gross’s ‘White Night’ which is about the all day, all night light of the far North.  This is the final stanza

‘in the wide, widening circle

we could melt into the distance

and distance itself

sits in among us, guest

 

we can’t count,

kind

wolf in from the horizon

 

all forgiven now, or soon.’

 

I recently got a highly commended from Philip Gross in the Magma Poetry competition – my first effort, early in the morning, after coming home from hospital was to get my entry off to Magma. One of the verses in Eilean Leodhais reads:

 

… It was the season of the dancers

when shafts of green twist across the midnight sky.

 

Further North than we can go just now,

a place of solitude, corncrake beside the loch

calling in the deep of night.

 

Summer we read outside in the insect-heavy night…..

 

His poem reminds me so much of those long summer nights and the metaphor of the North, the white light and the strange insomnia that it engendered, (it’s there in Burnside too), and  is a recurring image in my own poems.

 

Just now I am trying to put together poems in groups, themes.  Trying to make sense of the huge amount of writing that there is and to order it in some way.  I was so pleased with the response to Eilean Leodhais because it is part of a different way of writing that I seem to be caught up in just now.  As if the photographs had been laid out and one is suddenly lifted with an exclamation – ‘Well fancy that!’  It is of course all about memory – why Maitreyabandhu’s book was also so significant, ‘The Crumb Road’ being his image for ‘the unreliability of memory’.

 

So I have been ‘gifted’ during these last few weeks.  Starting to write again has been the greatest gift.  Isobel also offers me other gifts – we have been communicating in both visual and written form about meaning and being – through the image of ‘Red Cat Walking’. I hope that this will become an exploration in written form eventually, a dialogue about language and creativity.  I read some very interesting articles in Poetry Review, Poem, PN Review and other magazines and I enjoyed submitting to the Cafe Writers pamphlet competition which required also a piece of prose about how one would develop the poems submitted.  I liked the reflection that this demanded on work that is now both substantial – and unpublished!  I was unsuccessful but the exercise was very useful.

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7 responses to “Gifts :  ‘You know well that love is, above all, the gift of oneself!’ Anouilh

  1. I’m so glad that you are happier, and working well. A million félicitations for the Highly Commended (deserves bigger capitals!). I too have been sorting work into groups, and put together two collections – one for Mslexia pamphlet comp and a collection of 20 sonnets to submit. Do people read sonnets, these days? I do, but maybe I am vieux jeu!
    love,
    ViV

    • Thanks Viv – and so glad you are working hard too. I never had any success with Mslexia pamphlet or poem comps – sent off to cafe writers but no luck there either. Sonnets have been around a long time – do you know Don Patterson’s collection? I think its called 100 Sonnets. Lovely stuff. It’s tough out there. I am going to try and be more systematic and focused on submitting to magazines. BXX

  2. By Ry Cooder from his album: My Name is Buddy. 2007

    Red Cat Till I Die

    I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m a Red Cat through and through
    You can’t turn me yellow and you can’t make me blue
    You can’t make me do things I know it’s wrong to do
    I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m telling you.

    A bunch of sneaking deputies came a-snooping round
    They grabbed me in the alley whilst I was laying down
    They threw me in the wagon and then they ran me in
    They locked me in the jailhouse with all my hobo friends.

    Saying, Where’s that rat named Lefty?
    Where’s that frog named Tom?
    Been agitating lately
    And spreading a great alarm
    The cows walked out this morning
    Now the hens won’t lay
    Said, You’re going to wreck our country
    And it ain’t the American way.

    I ain’t no strikebreaker and I ain’t no stoolie rat
    Won’t squeal on Tom and Lefty, won’t say where they’re at
    You can’t scare me, copper, and I don’t care what you do
    I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m telling you…

    Now, you think you’re hard-boiled, you’re just yellow inside
    My daddy always warned me, now I know he’s right
    You’re just cowards hiding behind a little tin star
    The people are starting to realise what a bunch of clowns you are

    I might have been a banker without the least excuse
    I might have been the President, but tell me what’s the use
    Might have been an FBI man but I ain’t no Peeping Tom
    Might have been a deputy and put my white sheet on

    But I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m a Red Cat through and through
    I won’t fight your rich man’s war and kill poor folks for you
    You can’t make me do things I know it’s wrong to do
    I’m a Red Cat till I die, I’m telling you.
    ———————————-
    Thanks for the kind words.

  3. 6vicky7

    I like that idea of a poetry book a month x

  4. It must be twenty years since my one and only visit to the Yukon. The northern lights rippling and oddly noisy,the corner shop selling hot chocolate at 2 am and my reluctance to even try to sleep. Plants grew in front of one’s eyes-all the growth took place in eight weeks. And a tight cluster of PHDs-nothing else to do for 10 months of the year.Emerald green river full of minerals from the glaciers. Sorry I can’t write a poem so I leave it to you-all.

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