Sunday, 28 February 2010

Help III

I read somewhere recently, a writer whose name I can't remember, saying that poetry uses a different part of the brain to prose. I concur. Until I get these poems out of the way I can't work on my prose which is, as my supervisor says, my bred and butter. And I still have two stories that need to be completely rewritten, and several others that require major changes. Then I have a covering essay to write, a title page to invent and once that's done I have to decide on the order and get it to the printer. I'm currently working about fourteen hours a day, until 4am last night. I feel slightly sick all the time. I can't imagine what it must be like trying to get a real book ready for publication.

But you are helping enormously, so thank you, and here's the next one followed by a photograph of the working out:

The Good Wife

Dry as a throat today
so I thought to launder
all the big stuff, air
the unwashables.

Get things gently drying,
stirring, in the summer air,
gather some freshness
to fold in the evening.

But as I pegged with my new
rot proof pegs, the sun biting
at my neck like a desperate lover,
the line snapped. Oh, the gravity.

Progress update:

Here, in audio format so you can hear it, is 'Water Butt' reworked after your comments.


Rachel Fox said...

You're good at impact - great opening, killer close!

As for rhythms and middles...that I'm not so sure about. Maybe that's because you're not sure what you want to do in those areas either...

But it is very early days and as a very good and very successful poet said to me recently 'the day I know what I'm doing is the day I give it all up' (slightly paraphrased version).


Pat said...

The first time I played the audio was disastrous as a strange eastern record of Savannah's was still playing.
I'm glad you have slowed down (verbally) and it reads very well.
I like the new poem but will leave serious criticism to them 'as knows.
Excuse me missus but haven't you just had a serious illness? What are you thinking of working such long hours?
I'm on my last chapter and have decide to write an epilogue. Is there no end to it?

The Pollinatrix said...

Absolutely delightful! I'm just sitting here smiling.

"all the big stuff, air" is brilliant.

So is "Oh, the gravity."

I once wrote a poem about doing laundry. Interestingly, it had a similar tone. I actually thought I would turn it into a whole series of laundry poems, but that didn't happen.

There's really so much metaphorical potential in the act of washing clothes. I love what you've done with it here. Once again, I have no changes to propose.

Eryl Shields said...

Rachel ~ you're right, I have only a vague notion, based on a vague feeling, about what I'm trying to do with this. Not just with this actually! And that's why I'm posting all this stuff: the questions people ask really help me focus.

I take great consolation from the knowledge that Ezra Pound severely edited Eliot's The Wasteland!

Pat ~ I know, I know, but time is running out and if I don't feel I've done all I can I'll never forgive myself. I could have taken the semester off but that would mean not graduating for another year and I can't have this taunting me any longer. It should have been done by last September, then December: circumstances seem to be desperate to throw me off the path. Anyway, healthwise I'm fine now and if I wasn't sitting poring over my work I'd be doing something else.

An epilogue is a great idea for your book, so much wonderfulness has happened since.

savannah said...

no criticism here because like pat, i'l leave that to them that knows. for me, i am just enthralled by the process of creation, sugar! thank you! xoxoxo

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like the spontaneity of this Eryl - it sounds as though your clothes line broken and you came straight into the house and wrote the poem to get rid of your frustration. As a similar thing happened to me a fortnight ago I share the sentiments. I do think that sometimes we can rework poetry too much, so that it loses that first spontaneous outburst.
Interestingly, the word verification is dryon!

Eryl Shields said...

Polli ~ the tone being one of frustration?

Tomorrow's poem is also about washing clothes, sort of. Most of my poems are about the domestic grind. This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the women's movement in this country: now we go out to work and do all the bloody housework!

Savannah ~ you're welcome! XXX

Weaver ~ I agree that poetry can lose its raw energy when worked on, but from what I understand of the really great poets they came out the other side of that, to truly create, by working and working and working on each poem. So I guess how much polishing you do depends what you want to end up with. That, and the type of person you are: I just cannot leave well enough alone as my mother was fond of telling me.

Khanh Ha said...

I'm not sure if the brain has two compartments, one for prose, the other for poetry. I'm sure that poetry demands a much more condensed writing (I'm thinking of telegrams!), packed with more visuals and imageries than in prose. However, if the brain does have two compartments, then one is for writers and the other editors. The former relies on his creativity and the latter on his analysis. Rarely do I see a writer who is also a good editor. And it's true the other way around. And that's why we have writers and editors. Ha!

Pat said...

Oh all right then but watch it!

Eryl Shields said...

Khanh Ha ~ exactly, I need an editor, badly!

Pat ~ OK mum!

Elisabeth said...

Yes, I'm not sure about two different sides for prose versus poetry, maybe a different sensibility or mind set.

I see you have no trouble with poetry though Eryl. This one works well for me, but I'm a prose writer not a poet. Though I'm sure I could one day adapt if i put my mind to it. Though maybe like everything it takes lots of practice.

Eryl Shields said...

Elisabeth ~ I suspect that because they are such different ways of using language that it feels they use different areas of the brain. Writing poetry feels a bit like trying to work out quadratic equations.

Practice is the key, I'm sure.

Titus said...

Eryl: your posting-frenzy is leaving me gasping for breath and playing catch-up all the time.
Loved - seriously - this, and only suggestion is that there should be a hyphen in rot-proof.

I love clothes washing as image. As you know.

Eat more.