Saturday, 10 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Ten

I did a very stupid thing. Today's Read Write Poem prompt is to write a poem about a celebration recently attended with friends and/or family. After reading it this morning I stripped the bed and began to form a notion for the poem. Sheets in the machine, I sat down at my computer and scratched out a list of detail, and as the day progressed I came back to it and added bits as I remembered them. While the spuds were cooking I made an attempt at organising these details into something less list-like. Then after supper I had a good go at trying to make it more like a poem. Bleeding from the eyes I decided to let things settle for a bit and stopped to watch the first episode of some war drama with S.

Then the bulb went in the lamp on my desk and for some reason I switched off the socket. I never do that! And, unfortunately, the same socket feeds my computer. And I hadn't been saving as I went along, so I lost my lovely sunny, family party poem. Probably for the best. Here is mark 2, no title as yet:

Oxfordshire. Three aunts
two uncles, and a gaggle
of cousins. A table sagging
in the shade, laid with vast bowls
of Burmese Chicken Noodle,
saffron rice, lady's fingers laced
with spice. We’re all here: sisters
children, husbands, brother.
But suddenly this summer,
no mother.

There, not quite the epic I had in mind, but something.


Greg O'Connell said...

Oh, Eryl. Superb! The understatement really packs a wallop. =)

flaubert said...

This is lovely and so heartfelt!

Katharine Whitcomb said...

Great final line. I know what this is like, recently. kw

Alesa Warcan said...

Does it get trying, always getting praise? If so, sorry I can't help you today. Nice piece.

Two of the things I like the best about your writing, be it prose or verse, is the unpretentiousness of it and its physical presence (its tangible reality).

cosmicmermaid said...

Amazing. I felt the last line in my throat.

And, btw, bummer about losing your initial poem! I've been there.

Sausage Fingers said...

I know nothing about poetry, not prose or verse or anything else. The way you wrote this made me read and re-read it over and over. I love it.

Kass said...

"...a table sagging in the shade," I really like that line. I like the whole poem. A bit of Tennessee Williams in the last line with "suddenly this summer...

Jimmy Bastard said...

Och hen, we've all done silly things while being befuddled with the drink.

Rachel Fox said...

I like this best of your poems so far. Less elaboration, more writing from the secret place where the magic is. I think.

Elisabeth said...

Second time around might well be better.

This is superb. So evocative.

Pat said...

Well it's brought tears to my eyes.

steven said...

eryl i really appreciate poetry that has a hovering ambient thought. an event. a statement. that emerges either through inference or as closure. this is so clever and powerful and for all of us who have been inside the reality of the words a poignant reminder. thanks. steven

Eryl Shields said...

Greg ~ did you say, 'superb'?! Thank you.

Pamela ~ thank you, for the prompt too.

Katharine ~ my condolences.

This was the summer of 2006, but it's only just beginning to filter in to my writing in a way that has any real meaning. It seems it takes a long time to synthesize such a loss, and there's no forcing the process.

Alesa ~ oh it's terrible, I feel suffocated by praise!

'It's tangible reality'? Mmm, interesting. It will take me years to understand that, I think, but thank you.

Cosmic Mermaid ~ great name! Glad you like it.

It's so silly, this not saving, and if I save it to my computer my work automatically gets saved, also, to Sugar Sync so if my house burnt down I wouldn't lose it. All that's required of me is a click and still I fail! In this case it may have been a blessing though, so what is one to do?

Saucie ~ how are you, I must pop over and see you? I'm glad you liked it. And thanks for taking the time to let me know, too.

Kass ~ I thought of the Tennessee Williams play as I wrote the line, and nearly changed it because of plagiarism fears (one of my bugbears) but decided the reference added so much.

Jimmy ~ I knew you'd understand!

Rachel ~ high praise, thanks! The secret place is quite difficult to tap, and often I'm not sure where it lies.

Elisabeth ~ I think you're probably right, I have had my best successes with prose when, rather than trying to rework a piece, I've redrafted completely from memory. So it makes sense that the technique would work for poetry too.

Pat ~ I hope you haven't applied mascara yet then, X

Steven ~ thank you!

Alesa Warcan said...

Suffocated?! Don't worry I know the Heimlich maneuver, it involves squeezing the diaphragm with sarcasm right?
Heheh, I meant that it expresses a reality that the reader can feel about, can touch... probably because you do yourself.

In comparison, for example, my writing is often colorful bursts of abstraction. Shrug.

Eryl Shields said...

Alesa ~ I'd have to read more of your writing to be able to either agree or disagree with you properly about what you say. But, I'm sure I have always felt a very definite sense of your work being grounded in the concrete. It's definitely colourful though, and colourful is good, and colour is concrete. Must find an alternative word for concrete!

As I was shutting down firefox for the night last night I realised it was the fourth anniversary of my mother's death, so perhaps I was feeling this particular reality more keenly than usual as I wrote.

Still haven't come up with anything at all for today's prompt. Better get to it!

angryparsnip said...

I have read this poem several times.
Tugs at my heart.

Eryl Shields said...

Parsnip ~ I hope that's a good thing, x