Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dewars

Follow me down to a rock far away, far rock
away, golden bard singing in strings loaded
with karma, naming the street an ocean of lovers
and night-choir whispering a turnpike turning
black coffee to fine gasoline rain. Clothing two
moon-watchers touching the road-finger,
counting the roadkill, uncertainly tipped to follow
us down to a rock far away; who star in the air
above a changing bay, in acid filled lullabyes
painting a rainbow on every guitar
in the neighbourhood's brownstone.

Fair is the saturnalian rock far away,
turning each hand to write our graffiti
like secret barstool rats,
understanding our home place is under
the subway track, where we walk
with each other carrying vowels
following you down to sidhe streets
far away from the consecrated rock.

Gun-city waiting for a train of love songs
and good will mixing, vote what is left
of the the dew, seek to kiss it today
in Far Rockaway, Far Rockaway.

~

I've run out of research. The last three years since leaving university, I have been an independant scholar, not through choice you understand. My initial post-grad wish was to get on the Poetry MA at the Seamus Heaney poetry school in Queens University Belfast.

It cost £10,000 or something equally out of my budget, with a very small chance of a scholarship, and i applied just before i left the grove for, what i hoped, but half knew would not be, only the summer of 2004. My other choice was to do the writing MA in Galway University, but that, alas, was also a dream too far.

My exit velocity from college had enough momentum to bowl me, along with a bicycle and two panniers containing all my worldly goods, onto the now defunct Liverpool-Dublin fast ferry, having decided that i would get to research the history of poetry in Ireland and try my hand at writing it in on the island, by hook or by crook. My rival bores waffle on about the homeward tug of the poetic instinct, and i had it bad. To return to the land of my mother and father and all the ghosts who made me from the time of Cúchulainn and the Connachta, was the only sensible option for a man with a three-year writing habit approaching middle age.

I alighted at the North wall and cycled along the coastal path to my sister’s house in Baldoyle: a beachhead from where to launch my assault upon the literary citadel of Dublin, to sparkle or burn in urban Ireland’s poetry flame HQ, and after a few days fixed myself up in the main homeless hostel in the city centre, run by the Iveagh Trust, and very well run i might add.

I immediately threw myself into writing and reciting, and instinctively felt i had slipped into the place i should be in, as everything seemed to go right for me here, and more by accident than design. I have always been a high grade spacer, away with the clouds and here, this thinking is not out of place or abnormal as it was in England, i understand now because of the huge cultural differences which aren't so obvious or apparent to the occassional visitor because of the veneer of a shared language, which can give the impression we are closer culturally than is the case.

The foundation stuff on which society is based, the abstract principles and political doctrines, are as similar as Canterbury in New Zealand and Canterbury in the UK. Effectively a world apart, and the hows and whys of this take a few years to suss out, but basically boil down to the fact that in Ireland, people are far less interested in the visual appearance of their fellow citizens, than their mental state, and there is a refreshing and total absence of "class" as it operates in Britain.

So there is very much a sense of not knowing who is who when you first arrive, but in a positive way which means you cannot immediately tick people off into cozy cultural stereotypes, which makes one question the assumptions held in England, of how to judge, behave and treat others.

~

By the time i heard i had not got into the Heaney centre, i had settled into Dublin and so did not take it as a rejection as such, as i would not have been able to afford the course anyway. By this time i had cottoned on that Dublin was probably the best place in the world for a chancer trying to be serious about poetry and i already had a couple of killer anecdotes about meeting prestigious figures in the poetry world who had only existed to me before in books and my imagination. The stars of the firmament in which i wished to shine, seen and spoken to in the flesh, on a "home" ground; or rather the first ground where i felt a sense of being at home poetically.

There is a magic about the place which i had only experienced previously in the depths of my creative inner mind, the dream world which was only an inner thing in England, becoming an exterior manifest reality in Dublin, in a totally effortless, natural way. My instinctive self which had never had much luck in England, here, did far better than i could have dreamt, and based on things occurring here in, what in England, would be the craziest and most un-happenable of situations.

The world my senses apprehended, began to mirror the secret inner fanatsy i held, which related to being a poet; as the bombardment of choice, the hurley game of living here, and the most passing whim, could be acted upon in a totally unique way one can only grasp by being here.

Dublin is the only place i have experienced where the residents understand that others elsewhere, we cannot explain the intricacies of how society here operates in a way the absent "others" who have no experience of breathing here, could fully cognise. The events of quotidian life, the Freudian observation that people from this culture are the only ones he knew who are impervious to his psycho analysis theory, as there really is a genuine psychic attachment, unbroken and still very live, which stretches back to pre-oral times and the closest one can call it is Poetry, or "the music of what happens."

Life is poetry here. It is so, all existence and people from a flea to the five million currently living here, their existence individually and singular, can be contextualised as poetry, if one has the secret books, the knowing to do this task. And so, my research reached a terminus and the six year slog to Anruth is over now I have written out the million words it took to contextualise my findings into a 500 word poetic philosophy none can top, based on the best. Amergin's forgotten text and holy grail poetic of any wordic schema. The equivalent of Horace's Ars Poetica in the bardic philosophy, which - along with the basic skeleton of the four cycles of irish myth - allows one to take a breather; and so I have been concentrating on composing in the "write-through" form, where one takes a text and rejigs the words to a different one.

I have been at this on and off for the last three years, starting with Sylvia Plath's The Colossus, and gradually ending up using the constituent letter parts of small blog deposits, as demonstrated below.

This one is only a rejig of words, the Robert Minhinnick translation of, Far Rockaway, by the Welsh-language poet Iwan Llwyd, the full of which is here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Write through of "Rule Britannia"

ANN AT BRIL ERIU

Why picture loutish
eton craic
a fab lush brogue
patriotic anoraks,
and pride deserting
gentlemen at war
in eccentric sighs?

I slip bowless to
a sir free land
no snoot cockers
great knobs to hail,
cut the tie today
for a happiness few
feel,
aim high
hack
ask fate Howayiz
wah wah
is yiz
wib
us
hdhdwhb

~

This draft poem is an example of the "write-through" form, which is where the writer takes an existing piece, technically called in poetic circles, a - "found text" - and re-configures it to another one, using the same words and/or letters.

This is the original text, titled "Rule Britannia":

Out of the bus window I spy a white-haired gentleman on a bicycle wearing a pair of brown brogues, with white socks, khaki desert shorts, an anorak and a black bowler hat. He is a picture of English eccentricity as he whizzes past County Hall and I feel a surge of patriotic pride at the sight of him.

~

The woman who composed it is an ex-teacher, now pole dancer, from Kent, who keeps two blogs and writes under the nom de guerre of Glamour Puss. The found piece is from a blog called Clairvoyance, which she started in August of this year, 15 months after beginning her main blog The Pole Affair. The Pole Affair deals with her day to day work and personal life, whilst Clairvoyance (19c French, literally 'clear seeing'), is her ruminating a tad deeper about existence, what she writes as:

"Elucidating Everyday Wonder Made Manifest"


~

I first came across her several months back in the comment section of Kate Evans Bush, who blogs as Ms Baroque in Hackney. Glammy has an honesty and eloquence to her writing i suspect few pole dancers have. After 15 months of blogging about her work and private life, Puss, as she calls herself, posted a piece on Friday which effortlessly articulates, for even the most amateur armchair shrink to discern, the human reasons behind her decision to bin off teaching and twirl round a pole in next to nowt for a nine to five. She switched careers in the immediate aftermath of a disastrous relationship with an unsuitable man who treated her shabbily.

~

The write through form is at the opposite end of the compositional spectrum from strict metrical writing, but at least, if not more intellectually challenging, as it is like sieving ones mind through a tea strainer; knocking down an edifice of letters, and rebuilding an entirely different text with them.

No one told me of this form, as my first time creating in it was three years ago when i was in the third and final year of writing school, working on a poem, when my eye came to fall on Ted Hughes book, Lupercal, resting on top of Sylvia Plath's collection, The Colossus.

The poem i was working on i had just written and it struck me to re-write it, using the same words, and the creative flow was such that i ended up writing through Sylvia Plaths title poem from The Colossus, about the relationship with her father. At this point i only used the same words and broke down a few conjoining ones into their constituent letters, but in the few short years that have followed, have found that short pieces such as this, are ideal to take this exercise to the next stage.

It is a great exercise for homing ones intellectual fluidity, as i don't have to think of anything apart from the letters i have to play with, and i will post the Plath poem and write through tomorrow, and will probably be on this form for the next while, as i have run out of stuff to research, as the stuff i wanted to finds out about when i left university three years ago, i have done so, and am wondering..what next, as Plato said to Yeats when the coat hanger rapped in his noggin..