Right, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Poetry can be really dry and really stuffy written down. It’s probably something rooted in the way we were clobbered over the head with it at school. However, having seen Inua Ellams perform at Book Slam and young spoken word artistes such as Alex Gwyther and Aisling Fahey from a Writer’s Block event earlier this year (where I first saw them) have reopened mine previously closed heart.
Rapture is a stunning, slim book of love poetry written by a lover to a lover in grief, in love, in fear and in hope. Winner of the 2005 T.S Eliot prize, it is a complete submission into the dark chambers and the lightest lofts of this great emotion we all seek desperately for – romantic or otherwise. This insatiable need to be accepted for who we are or to have a self newly discovered as you newly discover another is seamlessly explored by Duffy through beautiful turns of phrase.
The transformative joy of love, of lust are explored in Text:
I tend the mobile now/like an injured bird…
I re-read your first/your second, your third,/look for the small xx,/feeling absurd
I hear your name/rhyming, rhyming,/rhyming with everything.
Whilst the darker, more self-consuming sides are explored in Elegy and the mysterious Presents.
Nature is used as a recurrent theme throughout Duffy’s poems. The rivers, the leaves off the tree, the birds and the moon are motifs which are continually returned to (so much so I found it a little tiring actually.)
River, Give and Row are the three I found most moving, the first almost a prayer of thanks, an open embrance of love after a torturous past; the second the fear of giving and having it taken away from you and of an enchanted lover becoming cold and distant and eventually going away; the last,, the immediate change in atmosphere between two in a fight:
But when we rowed,/the room swayed and sank down on its knees,/the air hurt and purpled like a bruise,/the sun banged the gate in the sky and fled…
But when we rowed,/our mouths knew no kiss, no kiss, no kiss…
It’s getting colder. Warm yourself up and Amazon this book.
Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
This book is incredible. I cried like a baby after I finished it. Foer tells his story through two generations who have become victims of War, minor players on a world stage yet these are the characters Foer chooses to weave his extraordinary and unusual story around.
Thomas Schell Snr, his wife the Grandmother tell their stories through letters to their son and their grandson and Oskar Schell, a completely enchanting little boy is on a mission which takes him through the whole of New York. These are people whose lives are blighted, torn apart by bombs falling from the sky. Or planes going through sky scrapers and the journey they all embark upon in order to heal. Below is an extract from the book told through one of the Grandmother’s letters to her grandson, Oskar.
I had never told her how much I loved her.
She was my sister.
We slept in the same bed.
There was never a right time to say it.
I thought about waking her.
But it was unnecessary.
There would be other nights.
And how can you say I love you to someone you love?
I rolled onto my side and fell asleep next to her.
Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar.
It’s always necassary.
I love you,
I have written about Book Slam a fair few times now and instead of prose I’m thinking of writing in pretentious spacey prose-poetry because it must be getting very boring hearing me talk about the ‘cove/cave like quality of The Tabernacle’. So here it is. A review that is not a review but a poor cover up for my lack of imagination.
Malika Booker. BREADFRUIT.
The mic is brought down, small. Fiery.
“At the moment I’m like a bear, I’m hiding behind a desk.” She says, her necklace glinting across the crowd.
She has spun a poem out of a headline, of a group of immigrants, ARCTIC WOLVES, who travelled here and then on hearing they were being deported. Committed Suicide.
They Did Not Want To Go Back.
DAMAGED KITE. The poem about the disappointment her father wields upon her, yet is the dead earth, she continues to harvest.
“He was the corn.”
Her earthy clipped, Grenadian flavoured voice blasts her internal loss, universal.
THE PASSING ON, is of dancing matriarchs and of baby-girl would be’s. Of Aunts rubbing their backsides against the Po-Faced Police Men. Setting a pattern of behaviour which the baby-girl-childs recoil from but will follow.
“Old Spice Island. Why did we leave?”
BLUES FROM MY MOTHER. Of all the things mother’s say to us – of the burden and the love, of the conflicts and the contradictions. The infuriation that leads to us walking away from the cord. Still Tied.
“She is my ancient civilisation crumbling and we don’t want her to go away.
We don’t want her to go.”
Heavy brows, eyes hidden by the bright lights. A Good Egg.
Zeitoun. Giving a voice to the unheard. Caught between the War on Terror and Katrina. The All American Family who happens to be Muslim.
He left his newborn baby in the yard, helping his wife up the stairs.
“How could he be partner to one and protector to another” At The Same Time.
Valentina. Amy. Flora.
Mutters and giggles into the mic. Bounces from the guitar to the Dulsima to the Yamaha.
Pulsing Symbols echo a reflection on the projector screen like sunbursts. Milky gold sun spots.
She has sad, heavy, wet eyes. She frowns when singing her songs of loss.
Furrows frame two glittering black orbs.
Whilst on a shoot with a friend, I heard this poem from Sooz Belnavis and I thought it was beautiful. So I’m sharing it.
THE RED LINE
The red line that birthed me,
That named me,
Flowered from me.
That punctuated line
That scrolls through my life like a scar.
The red line that draws
Girlhood charms and the arms
Of a man
Old enough to be my father.
The line that is crossed with fleshy sword
And is breached, too,
By my own son
As he pushes through me,
Into the world.
The line that is written in tomes,
That I am unclean and separated,
Then joined and retied for the next month
As a ribbon of chastity,
Through my daughter.
The line that I race to,
Through childhood and towards freedom.
I am poked by a deft finger,
To see the line has not yet been broken.
The line that traces our wedding bed.
The line I curse,
When it comes and yields no child.
The line I beg for when my body is weak and
Exhausted from bearing too many children.
The line that trickles through my life,
Swells like an ocean of misery
And a longing to end
Here and now.
The line flushing crimson to the floor,
Another dead child.
The line I stand before my tormentors that brands me barren.
The line that fed me and birthed me.
I swam through fragrant blood, slippy,
Oiling my way into the outside.
A renting and tearing renders me whole.
I bear the scar,
A line from navel to cunt.
The line that draws me into complexities,
Of a world of avoidances and do nots’.
The line that defines a hollow child,
I must fill in with supermarket glossies and
I want to be strong
And do boyish things,
But the line tells me something different.
It speaks of a woman with children and a home.
I want to do girlish things,
But they tell me I am in a Mans’ world
And I must be strong.
The line tells me something different,
It renders me incapable of sensible thought, of movement,
It draws me to my bed,
It draws me inside myself.
They tell me I must be like a doll,
But I am strong,
A line divides my heart and my intellect.
The line sometimes renders me insane.
I am a banshee, insatiable,
Screaming for everything and nothing.
It renders me insensible,
I do not know who I am.
But the line tells me something different,
I war with it and it wins.
I am slut, a mother, a whore, a wife,
I am superwoman,
I give birth to the world,
I am responsible for everything.
My smell is infectious,
A red flower blooms in my groin.
Smell it, it is fragrant.
The line says something different,
You are stinking,
You are unclean.
Disinfect the area,
Swab it out.
You are a woman,
You must be clean.
The line tells me something different,
It fed the crops once,
Ebbs and flows with the moon,
Grows fertile as land.
The line tells me something different,
It renders me no better than a cow,
My value dependant on my yield.
The line tells me different.
When you are ripped,
Stinking and empty,
You will be spat on and left
In your own mess.
My flower is fragrant…..Won’t you smell it ?
The line tells me something different.
A review of Book Slam on Wednesday is due but work and ambition has delayed me thus far from writing up about DAVE EGGERS! Get in. Will do though, it was great.