-and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.
from ‘That the Science of Cartography is Limited‘ by Eavan Boland
I’ve been writing this in my head while getting my (very late) lunch ready. The title is a misremembered fragment of something that had been said to me about the process of academic research. Something like ‘Strange hungers and unexpected fevers’.. I think it is a famous enough quote but I can’t remember quite how it went.
What do I know?
Part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project has been about getting to grips with movement and ‘the dance’ (in the Yeatsian sense) within my own poems. It has been a few months of strange hungers and even stranger reading material. This is not an academic enquiry, and I am now very pushed to say what kind of enquiry it is at all… Maybe a mix of detective work and a memory of a group of poets, let by Michael Donaghy, trying to find our way back from the local hostelry to a writer’s retreat house across from Inch Strand in the middle of a moonless night without a torch.
Strange divinations, and a lot charcoal (and you get a stick of your own if you become in anyway involved in the ‘Knowing the Dance’ process).
And a reading list in this particular order:
‘The Body has its Reasons’ – Bertherat and Berstein
‘A Poetry Handbook’ – Mary Oliver
‘The Rules of the Dance’ – Mary Oliver
‘Lines: A Brief History’ – Tim Ingold
‘The Singing and Dancing: Collected Poems’ – Ann Atkinson
‘The Dance Most of All’ – Jack Gilbert
‘Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michaelangelo to now’ – Isabel Seligman (in conjuction with a British Museum exhibition of the same name).
‘The Making of a Poem’ – Eevan Boland and Mark Strand
‘The Life of Lines’ – Tim Ingold
‘Knowing from the Inside’ – Correspondences – Prof Tim Ingold
‘A Part Song’ – Denise Riley
‘Knowing from the Inside’ – The Voices of the Pages – Caroline Gatt
Choe Keou. Reanimation point. Located at the base of the nose, above the upper lip. Pinch it hard between the thumb and index finger. Very useful in reviving someone who has fainted, this massage can be of great service while waiting for the doctor.
from ‘The Body Has its Reasons’ – Ancient Foundations – Bertherat and Berstein
I am processing this morning that the words aesthetic and anaesthetic are related – even if it is a relationship of opposites. (see also Kroun Loun – the ‘aspirin’ point – located on the foot). And after a few months of pulling words, text, inked lines, sound patterns, surfaces, sounds etc apart from each and trying to find out where the liveliness (?) is..I think it might be time to concentrate on the writing itself. I have a full work in draft and a few interesting ideas on how to progress and a hundred thousand questions on what it is all about anyway.
The opening quote is from a poem by Eavan Boland. It has a geographical location in the famine roads of the West of Ireland, and, to be honest, there is a part of me that is very uncomfortable taking it out of that context. The poem ends
the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pines and cyprus,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.
And yes my hope is, after all this strange hungry considering, that such a line might be recovered and reinstated.