Well, another productive week. I’ll start with Thursday when I had the all-important meeting with my support team re the submittability of my RD1, that hoop to jump through, that monkey on my back. The good news is: the proforma is finished, the Gannt chart is OK but probably superfluous, the ethics and insurance checklists are done. The bad news is: a complete rewrite of the 1000 word proposal. The content of the proposal is good; but the language needs to be translated from English into Academish. Take out the ‘I am interested in…’ replace with ‘I will investigate…will be examined…’ etc. Set out the methodology more clearly; show how the psychoanalytic theory will inform my reading of the poets but also that my reading of the poetry will throw a light on psychoanalytic theory, a two-way process.
I reported to the team that I have done a lot of reading around psychoanalytic theory, reading academic commentaries on Freud, Klein, Chodorow etc. I mentioned that this had helped and I was getting a clearer mental picture of the theories but I was finding Kleinian theory a challenge. Of course, Klein is a psychoanalytical writer I must get to grips with in reading mother-daughter relationships: she is essential reading. So I was given details of books to read to clarify the theory before reading her in the original; also to read Freud in the original, as I always planned to do. Although not the original original, I don’t have German beyond zimmer und fruhstuck, ausgerzeichnert and has zu gut geschlafen; and I can’t swear to the spelling of those. All of which I’m guessing won’t help me much with reading Freud in the original original. So I’ll read a good translation into English instead.
I told the team about my weekly blog, which they were very interested in, said if nothing else it would help with the reflection on my learning toward the end of the project. Angelica suggested it might be good to present a paper about the blog to conference, perhaps next year. So I think I had best make it more reflective of my learning and less anecdotal than it has been to date. Although anecdote is useful in helping me get the PhD work organised into the context of my life, so I think it won’t disappear altogether. And humour is something I can’t seem to get out of my writing, it creeps in like a worm when I’m not looking. But I will reflect more on my learning as I go along; try to make my blog more at home where I am not really at home myself, in academe.
So, I left my team meeting with mixed feelings.I felt happy to grow the blog into something more academic; I felt ready to move the reading on to hard core psychoanalytic theory. And I felt like a failure re the need to rewrite the proposal and the limited time to do it. Of course, thanks to the Demon Headteacher, it is the negative aspect I concentrate on. So I did what any good academic would do: I went to the Eighth Day cafe opposite MMU and comfort-ate pie! Then I went into the library to do a search of Klein and Freud, found the books I was after, began a skim read, decided I really needed to own them for longer than a library loan and so ordered them from Amazon before I left the library.
Thursday evening was the launch of The New Manchester Alphabet at the city art gallery. The NMA is an anthology of poems by students and staff of the MMU writing school in collaboration with the School of Art, a remake of the first Manchester Alphabet from early 20th century. It is an A-to-Z (I bet you hadn’t guessed that!) of places and landmarks in Manchester. It was a lovely event, a beautiful book. I met lots of MMU poet friends, one of whom has just submitted his PhD for assessment and another who, like me, is just starting her PhD. Both had been asked to rewrite their proposals too, said it was fairly standard at this stage. So I came away feeling better about myself, bought wine on the way home to go with the take-away as I didn’t have time to cook.
On Friday I drove to Grange-over-Sands for the poetry carousel organised by another ex-MMU poet friend, Kim Moore. Ian Duhig, Amanda Dalton and Andrew Forster are the other rides on the carousel. Andrew is also starting the PhD this term so it was good to compare progress. Guess what? Andrew was also asked to rewrite his proposal; twice! So I am coming to terms with this as a commonplace while realising I had better knock on with it, because there aren’t enough days left in the year to allow for more than one rewrite. Saturday morning, 4.00 a.m saw me propped up in bed, laptop open, beginning the rewrite. Almost done, just need some relevant quotes to back up my outline so Tuesday this week will see it finished and resubmitted, hopefully.
The carousel has been wonderful, so good to have four admirable poets to provide ideas for writing; and the bonus is, some of the poems I am writing here might well serve the PhD portfolio. I include one of them at the end for your perusal. Must sign off now, have some Freud to read. By the way, is it acceptable to laugh out loud while reading Freud? I found myself doing that this weekend, he really is very entertaining. Who knew?
And This Is Also Work
We rarely saw him, he was always answering
the call of the fields, the horses, the planting
and harvesting, the men, the beer.
She was the one who taught us
what work is, the getting up at dawn,
the porridge simmering on the flame,
the hot suds and cracked hands
the iron heating on the range
the broom and mangle, the muscle
as the heart of power, the bearing,
the suckling, the midnight nursing,
the churning of milk to butter.
Sometimes she worked on the farm
potato picking, beet singling, cleaning
the eggs of blood and shit for market.
She was told she could keep the lash eggs
and any that were cracked, payment
for her labour. She did what she had to.