17 July 2012

Tuesday poem: 'My mother and the projectionist', by Jenny Powell

My mother and the projectionist

She always missed
the beginnings, too busy
tidying minties and jubes,
stacking the chocolate,
cleaning her silver scoop.

If it was Mario Lanza
she wore her smock
with the smouldering
flair of a leading lady,
her hair plaited and coiled
in case he turned his gaze
to her seat in the circle,
close to the exit.

When she fell in love
with the projectionist
her life became a film.
Climbing the steps slow
and sultry she slid
into his room. They were
reel to reel, breath
to breath, body to body.

In the third drawer down
She hid his photo for 40 years
under a pile of jerseys.
A black and white flicker
of time on a silent screen.

This poem comes from Jenny Powell's latest book Ticket Home, a lovely hand-made chapbook from Cold Hub Press, who are busy over in Governor's Bay creating new New Zealand publications.

Jenny was the guest reader at the Poetry Society last night. It's been quite a few years since I've seen her read, and I really enjoyed hearing her again. This time I really noticed how she plays with rhyme and alliteration in her work - it's so much clearer when you hear it out loud. I have to confess I was a bit sleepy after the AGM, but she woke me up with her energetic reading style - especially with her first poem 'Southern woman' from Four French Horns.

She read quite a bit from this latest book, including 'My mother and the projectionist', which had struck me when I read the collection. As someone who has been obsessively writing about cinema for the last 5 or so years, it was right up my alley. But also such a romantic and tragic story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I noticed that Harvey Molloy has posted a video of Jenny reading another of my favourites from Ticket Home: http://harveymolloy.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/tuesday-poem-double-blow-by-jenny.html. It's called 'Double blow' here, but is 'Isabella Blow' in the collection.

And then, you'll find more Tuesday poems via the hub blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/.


Janis said...

Great poem - I'll have to look out for more of Jenny's work.

Elizabeth Welsh said...

Loved the witty 'she always missed the beginnings'! I noticed the alliteration, too - it seems to give the poem a bounce, a jollity. Quite wonderful - I shall have to pick up/order this collection! Thanks for sharing :)

Claire Beynon said...

A poignant portrait this.
I am a big fan of Jenny's poetry - such a distinctive and original voice.
Thanks, Helen. Thanks, Jenny.

Michelle Elvy said...

Oh I really like Jenny Powell's poetry. Love the opening of this -- the way it pulls you right into the middle of the scene. Nice.