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Just as I start this back up again, I find that I’m doing other, separate, more directed journal work, and letting this slip. Certain things in my life at the moment though feel imperative. Not with a frantic urgency, but with the feeling of get it down quick and messy now. So this blog I think may become irregular. I have only so much time and energy. 

The end result may be a book though. That’s the secret of it. A not so secret. But something that you whisper, in any case.

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Meanwhile look at this. I heard from Lynne Rees recently, and she has started this really fine site, with regular writing prompts. Lynne Rees is very, very smart about writing generally, and about poetry in particular. She’s a stupendous teacher. And a rather fine poet. 

You will find if you go there that she’s put up a couple of prose poems from How to Be a Dragonfly, in order to illustrate the imperative. Aha! There’s that word again. The must-be-done-ness of it. Anyway, there are some responses to the prompt, and they’re good. Enjoy.

By fluke, I’ll be teaching, judging and reading at the Folkestone Literary Festival tomorrow — when all I really want to do is hole up with Doritoes and wine and watch election returns. Sheesh! How unfair is life!

Rarely does anything literary have any effect on me other than ‘thank goodness it exists’. However, I do wish for once I could put stuff off by one day…

Which makes me think: any current affairs ideas for story exercises tomorrow? Go on, don’t be shy…

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And OH MY GOD I forgot to say that Your Messages is at it again! Yes, it is! Go check it out. A little bit of a different format, more possibilities…signed books as prizes…but you must, you really must go for it.

I will.

As soon as the election’s over!

Someone else f(l)ailing rather is Tom, over on The Weirdie-Beardie Chronicles. Apparently his Master is 42 as of last Sunday, and is feeling his age. I say pah! to that as a hardened 44 year old myself — but it’s true that at certain ages certain things seem to turn and turn again.

In response I thought I’d post a poem from How to Be a Dragonfly, about the 42nd prime number. Writing this one just about killed me, for some reason. Well, I know why: the whole book waited on this poem before going to the final edit — the last poem, the 42nd poem, about the 42nd prime number. The confluence of it all just did my head in.

Reading it now, I try to remember the source of all the fuss. I remember that I wanted it to be about (if there is such a thing) the mystery and impermeability of — well, art. Even though all my poems were going into a book, somehow to be ‘understood’ by a larger audience… I wanted nevertheless to hang onto their essential nature, to remind myself anyway of central things that can’t — refuse to be — captured.

Now I see why it was so rough. Trying to capture something I didn’t think could or should be captured. Threw the whole book into question. Ack! Talk about a rock and a hard place.

Here it is, anyway. I hope your Master takes heart, Tom. If nothing else, maybe it says that we are in this for deeper, underwater things, for glimpses. Life out-manoeuvres us and our logic. Which is probably a good thing too.

 

Prime Number 42


We need to know you’re for real, not just some illusion, but bona fide one of a kind.

After all, almost everything is made up of components, the pieces of our lives:  foundation, construction, selling point.  Everything has angles and fractions.  So it makes sense that we look for second thoughts, for other hands, and even, etc.  First we look for a way to hook you and reel you in.

On screen, your seven point eight million digits snake down in scales, a shimmering skin.  We throw everything at you, all manner of dissection, but the surface holds — it’s not that long before we have to believe what we’ve always known:  that nothing can break you, or make you, for that matter.  Your lowest common denominator is only ever you. 

We get exactly what we came for, and throw the rest back in.  Here, you can pretend:  one swish of your tail, and you’re gone.

Ah well. Had a wonderful time. Am still digesting the full dinner that is three weeks’ travel. Meanwhile here is proof that the sun did shine at least once while we were away: Schubert in the garden.

Not exactly pining for us methinks!

Photos courtesy of the lovely George B. They had a lurve thing going. Texts from her went along the lines of Schoobs catching some rays just nowSchoobs chillingSchoobs eating every meal of gourmet cat food I got for him (!).

Looks like we weren’t the only ones on holiday. Thank you, George: we found one well-fed, super-brushed and super-loved cat upon our return.

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Certainly to come:

1) light-fingered M

2) swallows and swallowtails

3) hornets and other buzzing things

4) pool (table and water)

5) anunciations, more saints than you can throw a stick at, etc

6) what we read (of course)

In the last few days:

1) A single magpie

2) An older man standing in front of his house, black tie, searching the road for his ride

3) A young man in the same, glancing at his watch,  on a street corner

4) One church, weeping. Afterward, children running through the garden.

5) Yesterday another church, full of celebration. Then suddenly, weeping.

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Never known such a time for sorrow and beauty side by side. One way this, another way that. An almost daily parade.  

Last week, M attended the funeral of her friend’s mother with me. We cried together. Later, on the way to the village hall and cake and tea, she held my hand and said that it felt right for her to be there. It did, and was.

 

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.