30 May 2011

Tuesday Poem: 'The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' from Nine Movies

6 The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I’m pretty sure I know now
what love tastes like
and it takes something so
to balance the sweet sharp salt
the corners of your tongue
to wash away the sticky syrup
that gets on my hands
and makes it hard to think

Running through the passages, tunnels of us
all made of books, stacked floor-
to-ceiling, and if they should topple
we’d be trapped beneath Brontës and Eliots
Dostoyevoskys, Tolstoys
Atwoods and Couplands and Greenes
Living in constant danger of being crushed
by the weight of Western literature
is just one of the risks we take

I know there are rooms inside of me
that you’ve never been to
You’ve whole basements
you’ve locked yourself out

This is another poem from my 'Nine Movies' sequence - I posted part 1 'The Opposite of Sex' a couple of weeks ago. I generally find love stories in movies pretty dumb and unbelievable, but I'm still a sucker for a love story that seems authentic, rather than schmaltzy.

Check out the other Tuesday Poems, which you'll find over on the hub blog: http://www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/. The official Tuesday Poem is already up - it's 'Travelling at Night' by US poet and film maker Kathryn Hunt, and includes a video of the poet reading her poem.

21 May 2011

Poetry reading: The Book of Blood by Vicki Feaver (12/52)

I first came across a poem by Vicki Feaver several years ago when I was nosing through some poetry anthology that a friend had for her poetry course at university. I was really struck by her poem - it was about Judith, whose story is told in the Apocrypha. I'd written a bit about Judith too in my poem about Artemisia Gentileschi and her paintings: 'Artemisia Gentileschi, 1593–circa 1642' - Gentileschi painted several pictures of Judith, including two of her beheading Holofernes (which is what she was famous and celebrated for).

You can read Vicki Feaver's poem 'Judith' on the English Poetry Archive site. It's a poem written in the voice of her protagonist - something that I've enjoyed doing to. It was a poem that made me want to read more of Feaver's work, and I've looked out for books by her around the place - in bookshops and libraries - but never saw any. So, now with the wonders of the internet, I decided to order a book. The book that Judith is from, The Handless Maiden, is out of print, so I bought the more recent The Book of Blood. It arrived surprisingly quickly.

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with this book. I wanted there to be more in there that I loved, but a lot of the poems just left me kinda cold. They didn't feel rich, they didn't feel necessary. But, looking back on it, I have fond feelings about the book, remembering how it very quietly seemed to tell a cumulative story of a life. Of sadness, of being left, and then finding love again, but that not solving everything.

In any case, there was one poem I really love, which makes the whole collection worthwhile: 'Hemmingway's hat'. It's a sort of genderbending poem about new love. No, it's more than that - it's about how we are the sum of various parts, of our histories. It ends with joy.

Poetry reading: Lost Relatives by Siobhan Harvey (11/52)

I haven't been keeping up with recording the poetry books that I've been reading, but I have been reading. I'm in danger of losing track, so it's probably time to start recording them again.

First up is Lost Relatives by Siobhan Harvey, which I've mentioned previously when I included a poem from it, 'Tooth', as my Tuesday poem. I said then that it was lovely meeting old friends in here - poems I'd come across in other places, including some I'd published in JAAM many years ago. The book tells a story of loss, and of gain. Of leaving an old home and family and country behind, and coming to a new country, building a new life, with a new family, and new connections.

16 May 2011

Tuesday poem: 'The Opposite of Sex' from Nine Movies

1 The Opposite of Sex

The first time is always awkward

You held the Jaffas where I could reach
your hand too close
to my leg

Apparently Lisa Kudrow has a degree
in something
We’re always so surprised
when actors aren’t stupid

Later that night
I jumped into a taxi
and the driver looked at you
through his rear-vision mirror
and asked
‘Are you breaking that poor guy’s heart?’

This poem is the first section of a sequence called 'Nine Movies', which has just been published in Sport 39 - all six pages of it! So I'm publishing it here as a kind of celebration. You can read the rest of the sequence in the latest Sport. It's kind of a love story. Well, actually, it is a love story. *Spoiler* It ends happily - at least the poem sequence ends happily. The story hasn't ended, but it continues very happily. It may be based on a true story.

There are lots of other great things in the lastest issue of Sport too, including poems by the other members of Helen Cubed (Helen Heath and Helen Lehndorf), so Sport is now with 66% more Helen. They've also just got a new website: http://www.sportmagazine.co.nz/

Another thing I'm celebrating is that I got a new, whizzy and very cute computer/laptop/netbookish thing. It has things like a web cam, so I have finally entered the 21st century. So, I decided I would record myself reading this poem. I did, and the not-especially-high-quality results are below.

If you are having trouble viewing it here, you can watch it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud_1i1zckig

And go and check out the Tuesday Poem hub blog, with the featured poem, and all the other Tuesday Poem blogs: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/

10 May 2011

Tuesday poem: 'Conversation Overheard on the Road to Salem' by Laura Solomon

Conversation Overheard on the Road to Salem

Think you're so fancy in that pointy hat,
with the audacity to just assume your black floating cape is the best.
Those warts are only stick-on, m'dear.
I can see right through you.

Those newts you keep in jars, gloating of their powers,
are just as plastic as dolls.
Pathologically competitive, that's your problem –
if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.
Pretending you know how to walk the line,
you're barely balancing as we ease on down this road.

Still, for all my bitching, we're on the same side,
we'll hold onto each other when the deal goes down –
you pretend to float and I'll pretend to drown.

Laura Solomon came to prominence back in the 1990s when she had two novels published by Tandem Press (Black Light and Nothing Lasting) - which I remember as really exciting, because she was so young. Since then she's been mostly overseas, in the UK, but has continued writing novels. In Vitro, from which this poem comes, is her debut poetry collection, which has recently been published by HeadworX.

The poems in In Vitro are mostly told in the first person by a wide variety of narrators, from a fertility scientist of dubious sanity, to the ghost of a man who was hit seven times by lightning, to Guy Fawkes, to crows and bats.

I chose this poem, again with a first-person narrator, because I was haunted by that last line 'you pretend to float and I'll pretend to drown'. Drowning witches was one way to test if they were in fact witches - the idea being that if they floated then they were a witch, but if they drowned then they were innocent, and dead.

There are many other Tuesday poems for your enjoyment. You'll find them here: http://www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/