Life’s what happens when you’re busy making other plans: this week the fridge freezer went to that great landfill in the sky. I went to get stuff out of the freezer for dinner on Wednesday only to find a lot of stuff too thawed out to use, including two Magnums I was saving for a secret ice cream binge! So, I transferred what I could save to the chest freezer in the garage and defrosted the fridge freezer in the kitchen, hoping it was only unconscious and would return to me with CRP. It didn’t, the next morning it was still dead. It was thirteen years old, so it had been a good servant, I suppose: built-in obsolescence and all that. So I consigned it to infinite ambience and went to Currys to buy a replacement. It will be delivered later today. The dead one was integrated into the built-in kitchen; getting it out of its housing was fun. I suspect getting the new one into the space will be no less tricky. I’ll keep you posted.
Well, back to the plans I was making before life got in the way. On Tuesday I had a really productive day for the PhD and the poetry. I wrote another poem for Spelks with a Ted Hughes quote as the epigraph: it comes from his Birthday Letters collection. I’ll post the poem at the end so I won’t say too much here. I took Sylvia Plath’s form of nine lines, nine syllables to a line that she used for ‘Metaphors’, her poem about being pregnant (hence the focus on nine, I guess). Plath’s is a lovely poem and I was quite pleased with my little shadow too; the form flowed surprisingly easily to release a poem, I think, that isn’t constrained.
I finished reading Sigmund’s ‘Three Essays…’ as well on Tuesday, so that was progress, and began a close reading of ‘The Unconscious’, which, the introduction tells me, is more his musings than an authoritative theory. He is writing to see what he thinks about the subject; it makes me feel better that even Sigmund wasn’t absolutely sure of his thoughts on this difficult theme; although I suppose it is hard being a psychoanalyst and having to write authoritatively, because you must analyse everything you say for hidden meaning. That’s OK, Sigmund, it’s mostly hidden to me! But I pick out a thread and keep pulling at it until it becomes a small ball of wool. What I do know is, I know more than I did in September and that is as much as I can expect.
Tuesday evening it was our Poetry Society Stanza at the Buffet Bar in Staybridge Station. This month we were having a reading session. We chose to read the work of the American poet, Tony Hoagland. I hadn’t heard of him until I heard him read at Aldeburgh in November and I was blown away by his cynical humour and his political satire. You can find some examples of his poetry here:
I was pleased when his name came up as a subject for close reading at Stanza; I loaded his latest collection onto my kindle and I chose his poem ‘Little Champion’ to read at Stanza. The bad news is, poetry is not a good medium for the Kindle: it messes with the format of the poems, but I found a copy of ‘Little Champion’ online anyway. The good news was we all chose different poems so we had a really varied event. Two of Hoagland’s inspirations are Sharon Olds and the Beat Poets and we had examples of his work that showed the influence of both. It was a fantastic night. I do enjoy Stanza.
On Wednesday, I had a lunch meeting with the committee of Poets and Players. I read the agenda in bed at 3.00 in the morning on Wednesday: sleeping is not really big in my life! Anyway, I saw on the agenda that I had committed to sending an email shot to past entrants of our P&P competition; so I spent two and a half hours getting all the past entrants into my address book then forming a group to send a BCC mailshot inviting them to enter again. The closing date for our competition is 29th February this year, and we have cajoled the lovely Jackie Kay to be our judge: you can find details of the competition here:
I had to go to my daughter’s restaurant before going to the lunch meeting: I do her books for her on a Wednesday. Actually, this week I just paid the wages and left the rest till next week. Then I was on my way to Manchester for the meeting. I picked up our rail tickets for London in March at Manchester Victoria, then got a taxi to the Whitworth Art Gallery where the meeting was held. We hold our P&P events at the Whitworth; the next one is on February 20th where, among others, David Morley will read to a science theme. Perhaps we’ll see you there? Details are here:
It was a productive meeting, we have almost completed our planning until September. It has been difficult this year; Arts Council Funding was hard to achieve, but we did get it in the end, only for twelve months though. In the past we have got funding for three years, which makes planning slightly less manic. Our events are free entry to our audience, so the funding is crucial. The competition is one way we raise some extra funds, so it would be wonderful if you could all enter our competition to show your support!
Friday was the highlight of my week: it was Spelks day. I love Spelks: I think I may have mentioned this! We are a group of seven friends who meet monthly at each other’s houses to set writing tasks, write poems to those tasks then meet to share the poems. Friday was the day to meet. As usual it involved Prosecco and other wines, nibbles and chocolate. It also involved fantastic poetry. Unfortunately, there were only five of us there this week: bereavement and house sales had kept two Spelks occupied elsewhere; but the five of us made up the shortfall. The poem I am posting at the end of this blog was written to this latest Spelk task: to take a quote from anywhere and use it as an epigraph to a poem in any form. Here is one of my four Spelk poems written to that task. It is about relationship breakdown and the personal trauma that that particular kind of grief causes, especially when the relationship has bordered on fixation, which is, as Freud would say, just another name for love. This poem is my favourite for this task, I think the best. I hope you like it too.
Your life/was a liner I voyaged in (Ted Hughes Birthday Letters)*
I couldn’t say when we set sail or
where we anchored. To me you were prow,
I was stern. You were my forward thrust,
you my cabins, decks, the bowels of me.
The cruising was smooth while we maintained
mid-ocean, but what when we wrecked? Then,
I was scuppered, capsizing, sinking,
woman overboard with no life belt.
* The Blue Flannel Suit