John Waite writes about Ten Poems from Ireland

Town Hall Poets

This small pamphlet, published by Candlestick Press, is carefully crafted in every way. Physically it has a beautiful appearance and feel and it is accompanied by a bookmark and envelope to allow it to serve as a superior alternative to a birthday or other occasion card. The ten poems are well chosen and introduced by Paula Meehan, who is a leading figure in contemporary Irish poetry and who was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2013-2016.

In her excellent brief introduction, Paula Meehan says that the poems were chosen with an eye to “our problematic history” and to language itself. The pain and confusion of that history, including the suppression of the Irish language, can be heard throughout the collection. Two of the poems are presented both in the original Irish and in English translation. All of the poems evoke a sense of the broader context of Irish identity, history, culture…

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The meaning of Blog – part two

I have just come back to my blog after a year and found two drafts there unpublished, of which that is one. Maybe I am feeling less shy now but I have decided to publish both and then hopefully I’ll also write something new.

 

For as long as I can remember, I have been “shy”. Part of that is captured in the word “introvert”. When I was a teenager, the boredom and alienation I was feeling at school (and had no way of articulating) was lightened by an inspirational new and young teacher of english literature. He introduced us to great writers and great writing and to the psychological terms introversion and extraversion. One of my classmates said later that I must be the ultimate introvert. I was pleased to feel noticeable for anything at that point and, after all, introversion seemed like quite a positive quality with suggestions of depth and reflection. While introversion has a positive feel to it, shyness does not. It can sometimes look quite cute in young children and animals but it still appears as pathological and as something that we hope will disappear with experience and growing confidence. My dictionary suggests that to be shy is to be not at ease in the company of others, easily frightened and timid, watchful and wary. It also carries meanings of backing away, avoidance and withdrawal. It feels relevant to this continuing blog because this fear and discomfort is at its greatest for me when interaction is unstructured with no clear task or roles. I think that it is the same for most shy people. Beginning, breaks and endings can feel like the most difficult bits of contact because there is less clear external definition of what to say and how to respond.

The meaning of Blog

Hi,

I find myself now with a blog and no course to share my bogling on. I have thought and walked about this and decided that I will carry on playing with this new platform, even though like the platform to Hogwarts there are only a special few who can find their way on to it. I have always been a shy and quiet introvert, so it will be interesting (if possibly only to me) to see what I have to say as a blogger. For now, I have added a little to my profile statement, which I invite you to read, and I will share more musings on life from the next blog.

Time now for some food, a glass of wine and The Voice on TV,

John

Coming back to the Commons

Hi, This is by way of saying thank you and farewell to everyone involved in Writing 201: Poetry and to our sharing together. Until our paths cross again, fare well and enjoy writing, John

The Commons

I come back to the Commons

Where the festival’s over, most people have gone

There’s no pulsing programme of deadlines and tasks

No shy sharing of secrets and songs.

I come back to the Commons

Where we met from many parts

With virtually real identities

To shield our open hearts.

I come back to the Commons

Hoping for some music here

And find a few others like me

Retracing our pathways to last week’s cheer.

The buzz and excitement have all quietened down

The ops team are clearing the site

It’s time for goodbyes now

And ending feels right.

Day 10: Sonnet with thanks

Hi, This is my final blog for the ten day course. The focus was “future”, the form a sonnet and the technique a chiasmus.I am not sure how well I have done with any of those, But I have at last got it done and therefore all 10 tasks completed. I have enjoyed it and I think that I have learned a lot along the way. As always, thanks for reading and for any comments you leave.

Good luck for the future, John

Writing 201: Poetry Thanks

 

 

This has been a time of subtle changes,

Where our focus on poetry and rhyme

Have helped my words and confidence to climb,

As my “not me!” image rearranges.

This course has helped me to know how to write.

Form and techniques can restrict weave and flow,

And the opposite truth I also know

That flow needs structure to look and sound right.

Now I’m a blogger and a poet too,

My writing hangs on the internet line,

And I still wait to be withered to dust.

As the writer reads and the reader writes true,

Our worlds come together and hearts combine,

As we place faith in the process and trust.

Feasting on found words

Day 9 and the focus was landscape in a found poem with enumeratio. So an actor I was working with today picked out ten words from a newspaper produced this afternoon for our training simulation. These were placed in a bowl with the task and three glasses of red wine and the result follows.

As always, I appreciate you reading and welcome any comments.

Thanks,

John

Feasting on Found Words

Here in these landscape images,

Taken looking west not east,

There is a cavalcade of coincidences,

Which, glanced immediately and sideways,

Offers ultimate promises for our tribes meeting to feast.

Fruit trees and bushes,

Grasses and rushes,

Milk laden cows

And fat bellied sows,

Birds in their nest

And seeds at their best

All fall down the hillside to meet us,

Fortelling we’ll eat well this Christmas.

Day 8: A drawer of ode socks

Today’s challenge was an ode about a drawer (or something in it) and with apostrophe (not the ‘ kind but I have included one of them as well). I feel rushed between a long drive and meeting up with some people for work, so this is a very brief contribution. The background is that my wonderful orange shoes, bought in New Zealand, have begun to leak and all the shoe shops have to offer for men is a choice of brown or black. Aaaargh.  John

Ode to the God of Men’s Socks

My sock drawer holds colours of wondrous hues,

Like a fruit bowl of oranges, lemons and limes.

So thank you O sock god for letting me choose

In these black and brown only shoe fascist times.

Posey prose: two pieces

Day 7 and the task is fingers in a prose poem with assonance. I have written two short pieces. Are they prose poems or just posey prose? The first is about fingers and has more assonance (I hope). The second has some explaining to do.

Thanks for looking. Let me know what you think,

John

Speed Reading

In speed reading, a finger leads the eye, taking in information in page sized chunks. Paradoxically, the finger isn’t digital in its approach. No byte sized bits for it. Instead, it traces a smooth curve with more attention to the paper feel of the book than to its contents. Imagine your skin is the page. The curve now urges you to relax. It is like a river winding its way, page after page, down the cascade of your spine. Water washing clean the slate of words and burdens, washing you clean. All fidgeting and rigidity soften as the non-digital digit slows down and traces the round mounds of your oft forgotten body, dissolving your armour in its flow.

Age

Age drip, drips away at our stone conviction of immortality. Slowly a hole appears and the water gathers like a mountain lake, until one significant, sufficient drip causes the lake to break its borders and to overflow. Then a fine rivulet begins a new journey, like an unexpected tear on a made up face. The tear releases a surprising sob from deep inside an unknown place. A force from within the mountain splits it asunder and everything that is known is thrown this way and that. Our stone edifice has gone the way of all things. We can no longer recognise it as ours. Maybe some of the larger pieces may be of some use to someone else. And the rubble too perhaps for filling a hole somewhere. But not this hole. It seems like the only certainty left.

Day 6: No more heroes?

Hi,

Here is my effort today. I managed two out of three or four with an attempt at a ballad structure and the use of hero as a focus. I may struggle even more in this second week because I am busy with work and driving. I will post everyday though if I can.

John

No more heroes?

I have summoned up my heroes,

For you and I to meet.

Though I thought at first I had none.

They are waiting down the street.

They are gathering as we watch them

And the noise id growing loud,

Many more than I expected

And growing quite a crowd.

I can just make out Mandela

At the centre of it all.

He’s shaking hands with Dr. King,

Their audience in thrall.

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Have joined them at the core.

No white men yet have joined the group,

Though it gathers ever more.

Shall we walk on down to join them?

It seems too big a task.

To learn from such great figures

Seems too much to ask.

But wait, there is a message

From one who sits unseen.

He sits in peace beneath a tree

All quiet and serene.

His message though is stark and clear

That we must kill them all,

Before we can be free to move

To answer our own call.

So, heavily we turn around

To face the other way

And there a young boy waits

Contentedly at play.

Come with me, he beckons us,

Away from all the throng

And as he leads a feeling grows

Of something known all along.

The feeling grows much stronger still

I do not wish to roam

Nor to follow all my heroes,

For I am coming home.

Come meet my greatest hero,

Who protected me with care.

It has taken me a lifetime

To see him standing there.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Here is my offering for the potluck:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.

plus a link to Mary Oliver reading the poem on YouTube