Honouring Eavan Boland – #lettersfromladyn

WP_20171122_005Thrilled to hear that Eavan Boland will receive a Bob Hughes Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards next week.

I first came across Eavan Boland in my twenties while working on a ‘feminist’ thesis (in the area of business) and as a hidden poet.

The outcome my  thesis supervisor –  who had asked me to pursue the ‘research question’ – clearly expected me to find was that while there were unmistakely statistically very few women in management roles in Irish industry at the time, this was due either to the normal course of events or if, in the offchance there was a problem, it was the fault of women. I know I don’t need to specify the gender of this, my ‘first’, supervisor. I found a rather more complex picture – and subsequently a new supervisor.

I found both Eavan Boland’s poems and her critique in the journal section of the Boole Library in UCC. It’s funny how a person could get diverted from ‘Strategic Managment Monthly’ and the HBR…

in any case, I had, and still have, massive admiration for her speaking truth to power about the unfairness inherent in the differential reception of men’s and women’s poetry, while at the same time having a buoyant practice and a lifetime commitment to creating poetry which has both something integrous to say to people’s lives and is rigourously composed to a fluid standard of the best of what poetry can be. Some of my favourite poems have been composed by her.

I was thrilled when she became guest editor of Poetry Ireland Review and have loved these editions. I was also delighted to find, which I didn’t know, that she had been involved in the development of Arlen Press which has recently returned and is beginning to have quite an impact on women’s poetry here in Northern Ireland very recently.

I worry a bit about lifetime awards and adulations as there is a sense that people are on the one hand being feted and on the other being put out to pasture. But in this case, I have no worry. This woman will keep her own counsel. May she flourish.

 

A journey down the wrong road… #lettersfromladyn

..is not improved by continuing in the same direction.

This is my learning for the season.

A new ‘cliché’. Although I am sure that some culture / language somewhere has a better version of this.

In the meantime..go néirí an bothar linn.

 

002-Proverb-Seabird

(Image from: irishcentral.com )

 

The Clock Repairer’s Companion (Thirty Tristichs): #KnowingtheDance #NaPoWriMo

6tag-3088414843-1483269340422047431_3088414843

These thirty three-line pieces are creative responses to my consideration of the moving parts of poetry composition – and are part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project.

 

 

 

The Clock Repairer’s Companion

Tristich 1-10

Tristich 11-20

Tristich 21-30 (sequence)

 

Notes and Acknowledgements

  • ‘The Clock Repairer’s Companion: Thirty Tristichs’ is series of three-line pieces written daily, exclusively for National (Global) Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo), to be shared via instagram @pearldiver32
  • They are responses to my consideration of the moving elements of poetry in general, and my own poetry in particular,  which is part of the wider ‘Knowing the Dance’ project, supported by Arts Council NI’s ACES programme. Reading material is included with each ten day installment.
  • I have a fascination with tristichs since meeting the form in the poetry of Yannis Ritsos – and am still in realm of Lorine Niedecker’s ‘condensery’.
  • Again many thanks to Emma Whitehead for the use of the ‘Time Bug’ image.
  • ‘Letters from Black Hawk Delta’ Thirty Tristichs for NaPoWriMo 2016 can be found HERE.

About NaPoWriMo

April is (Global/)National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and the idea is to write a poem a day for the month. You can find some great prompts at the official site, and poetry support organisations like the Poetry School

OliveBroderick@2017

The Clock Repairer’s Companion (No 21-30): #KnowingtheDance #NaPoWriMo

6tag-3088414843-1483269340422047431_3088414843Nos 21 to 30: the third (and final) installment of three-line pieces which I have been sharing each day this April on Instagram – @pearldiver32 – as part of NaPoWriMo.

The work is a creative response to my consideration of the moving parts of poetry composition – and it is part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project. The final 10 tristichs form a sequence which was called ‘The Body is all Water’ when shared on instagram.

 

The Clock Repairer’s Companion

Now the clock tells the time right,
inseperable as water, light and shade,
all one body – moving, turning.

The body is all water and returning
to its source: its fluid nature all surge and
gathering together as it covers old ground.

Fear is real – the cell wall, the membrane,
the karstifying rock, a place of waiting,
of permeation – it has its own time.

Inseparable, those times that we don’t talk about,
forty days and nights of rainfall, the turlough
and freshwater lake flow into each other.

Far from gone forever, this place of surface stone
is a conjuring trick, a feat of dry spells,
sunlight and vapour mirages that rise, evaporate.

Neither you nor I, and far from lost for ever, this water
flows, filling in and filling out, though I’ve needed
to contain you in a limestone-walled oubliette.

Fear is mostly mind – and badly scripted voice-over
that speaks in a whisper to a face behind a mirror, who,
if not pixelated, is certainly dried out and all 2D.

The body is all water – and sometimes walking away
from its surge, its eddy, retreat – the sound
makes its way through the membrane of the ear.

Dance with me. The clock in its waterproof case
will beat, will beat. Let it be the meeting point
between the river here and the river beneath.

The shade is you. The Lough is all sunlit and still.
Anchored boats with phantom people. The call
to water, of the woodland beyond, goes unanswered.

‘Fear of the body…Fear of words…Sometimes the two are inseparable’ (‘The Body has its Reasons’, pg 123) is the epigram for this and its reflection in the water – shimmering slightly, not a perfect mirror.

The shade is you. The Lough is all sunlit and still.
Anchored boats with phantom people. Call
of water, of woodland birds, go unanswered.

Dance with me. The clock in its waterproof case
will beat, will beat. Let it be the meeting point
between the river here and the river beneath.

The body is all water – and walking away
from its surge, its eddy, retreat. But the sound
makes its way through the membrane of the ear.

Fear is mostly mind – and badly scripted voice-over
that speaks in a whisper to a face behind a mirror, who,
if not pixelated, is dessicated and all 2D.

Neither you nor I, and far from lost for ever, this water
flows, filling in and filling out, though I’ve needed
to contain you in a limestone-walled oubliette.

Far from gone forever, this place of surface stone
is a conjuring trick, a feat of dry spells,
sunlight and vapour mirages that rise, evaporate.

Inseparable, the times that we don’t talk about,
forty days and nights of rainfall, the turlough
and freshwater lake flow into each other.

The fear is real – the cell wall, the membrane,
the karstifying rock, a place of waiting,
of permeation – it has its own time.

The body is all water and returning
to its source: its fluid nature all surge
and holding together as it covers old ground.

Now the clock tells the time right,
inseperable as water, light and shade,
all one body – moving, turning.

 


A note about what I have been reading

This three-lines-a-day discipline for April has been away of me working through the learning elements of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project – practice sketches is at were.  The ten-tristich sequence above is a response to ‘The Body has its Reasons’ and my rereading of it.  These last days of April,  I have also acquired the ‘Lines of Thought’ catalogue which accompanies the British Museum touring exhibition that has been on at the Ulster Museum, and ‘The Life of Lines‘ by Tim Ingold..and so the reading continues…in a linear fashion…

About NaPoWriMo

April is (Inter)National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and the idea is to write a poem a day for the month. You can find some great prompts at the official site, and poetry support organisations like the Poetry School

Image: from Time Bug series (10cm x 10cm) by Emma Whitehead

The Clock Repairer’s Companion (No 11-20): #KnowingtheDance #NaPoWriMo

6tag-3088414843-1483269340422047431_3088414843Nos 11 to 20: the second installment of three line pieces (from fragment, to micro-poem to as much as I can fit and still call it, fluidly, three lines) which I have been sharing each day this April on Instagram – @pearldiver32 – as part of NaPoWriMo.

The work is a creative response to my consideration of the moving parts of poetic composition – and it is part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project.

 

20. Found Poem*

Fear of the body…

Fear of words…

Sometimes they are inseparable.

From ‘The Body has its Reasons’ page 123

 

19. Still dancing after all

this time, our lines close to connecting, but still a holdback –

the romance of the Latin Mass left in our fingers –

so there’s room to hold both each other and our preferred other as mystery.

 

18. Playing Checkers with Little Nell

I move. You move. They watch. Next move, my move – I move. Now you. You muse

watch me, watch them, then make your move. I move, then you – they watch.

We choose our moves – then move. They watch.

 

17. Aisling

Before the first cross-quarter day of that year, two little boys appeared

in my deep-winter drift, signalling me, with their spirit eyes, to cross-over

to join with gradual, waxing light – to rise as it rises, but not to fight.

 

16. Breathwork (b)

Difficult conditions, living seeds prepare to shoot through topsoil – a metaphor

she scores a dance from the breath pattern – all rise and rush, barely enough stop to refuel –

shapes of a body attacked by panic, or a cartoon charachter held in the air by ratata gunfire.

for Paula Guzzanti

 

15. Shoots (mark-making exercise)

The frank stare of the double-o. She looks at it, then takes the charcoal – breathes out

through its medium an upward moving vortex – swiftly overlaying another in red chalk.

Finished, she holds her body, without prejudice, where noun and verb meet in their sense of propulsion.

for Sarah Warsop

 

14. Where they hide their anger

the ones who never, mark that, ever feel even a frisson of that emotion,

is, in temporal terms, the minutest move on the face of a clock, but the oubliette opens

in the breath-crack between side-by-side words that begin and end again with hard letters.

 

13. Tonight, like housekeys in my handbag

I carry

The lines of your song.

Tonight I am safe, comforted.

 

12. What it is

It is the stick figures that run and leap as I flick the pages.

It is the rise and drive of dark lines marked on the paper.

It is the change in the speed of my breath, the ribcage follows: I sit.

 

11. Anxious scanning

Digital, my fingers on the keyboard typing.

My feet are on the floor tapping out a rhythm.

In between, I am – the doubt I feel is my own.

 


If you sit, just sit don’t wobble (zen saying)

After last week’s intense reading, this week I sat (not saying I didn’t wobble a bit) and reflected on what I had read and the wider ‘Knowing the Dance’ project. It was a strange, ranging journey – ending with the arrival of ‘The Dance Most of All’ by Jack Gilbert – which wasn’t entirely what I was looking for, and then again it might have been just the right opening to what is going to be a sequence for the next ten days. I know this is departing from the letter of the the NaPoWriMo project but I’m hoping it captures some of its spirit as this has arisen from the energy of working day-by-day during this April.  I also went back and reread chapters of ‘The Body has its Reasons’ which has been a part of my world since I was a teenager. I was very sad to find out recently that Therese Bertherat had passed away a few years as I would have loved to have actually been a participant in one of here classes.

About NaPoWriMo

April is (Inter)National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and the idea is to write a poem a day for the month. You can find some great prompts at the official site, and poetry support organisations like the Poetry School

Image: from Time Bug series (10cm x 10cm) by Emma Whitehead

The Clock Repairer’s Companion (No 1-10): #KnowingtheDance #NaPoWriMo

6tag-3088414843-1483269340422047431_3088414843Nos 10 to 1: the first installment of three line pieces (from fragment, to micro-poem to asmuch as I can fit and still call it three lines) which I have been sharing each day this April on Instagram – @pearldiver32 – as part of NaPoWriMo.

The work in this case is a creative response to my consideration of the moving parts of poetic composition – and it is part of the ‘Knowing the Dance’ project.

 

10. Late afternoon full moon seen behind telephone wires

Held note. Between the lines
I am, you are, all we encounter
here, moving as we move, a dancer.

 

9. Pattern

Already:
in my hand,
the chalk across my palm.

 

8. Water Drums

The women. How they stand. Their hands as they beat
the river. Its resist, follow. The rhythm. My hands. Call
across continents. The songs in different languages.

 

7. Poiesis

Parchment, paper, tablet, stylus, pencil, ruler, plumb-line, quill-pens, inhorn, inks, desk, goodlight, chair –

Whatever the instruments, what moves this scribe is not to bring forth, exactly, what is imagined –

But making the marks of a map by which others can make their own journeys along these lines.

 

6. Illusions of Movement

In corners:
intimations of intrigue,
wall-to-wall intricate spiders’ weave-work.

 

5. A three line monograph on walking and writing poetry

Walk: find Basho, Raftery, Mary Oliver in the grove, town, forest.

Walk: let your steps fall in with the rhythm of the wind, river, traffic.

Walk: ideas, images circulate as blood does: always now.

 

4. Breathwork (a)

As you read this (or
are you hearing it really), ask
yourself where the breath is.

 

3. Mobile

A breeze triggers it, makes the strings, frame,
and dangling baubles all swing and sway:
the movements are followed by the baby’s gaze.

 

2. Still life with moving part

Indoors in late August, he paints ‘nothing but large sunflowers‘,
like this one – fifteen head-turners: yellow on yellow – while
outside a Mistral wind bloows over the still Arles landscape.

 

1. Who can know?

I am moving
I am not
movement

 


A note about what I have been reading

The work in this case is a creative response to my consideration of the moving parts of poetic composition. This is part of the written element of the ‘Knowing the Dance‘ project – and the technical end in a way – so the pieces are very much concerned with the writing itself. Should it be of any interest, this ten days has seen me rereading sections of ‘Rules of the Dance’ by Mary Oliver, ‘Lines: A Brief History’ by Tim Ingold, ‘The Making of Poem’ by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. Revisitng objectivist poetry (?) gently, getting to grips with ‘Poiesis and Art-making: A Way of Letting-Be’ by Derek H. Whitehead. and I’ve also put my toe in the water of ‘Affect Theory’, without getting much of me wet as of yet.

About NaPoWriMo

April is (Inter)National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and the idea is to write a poem a day for the month. You can find some great prompts at the official site, and poetry support organisations like the Poetry School

Image: from Time Bug series (10cm x 10cm) by Emma Whitehead

Ordering Collection Contents – #Lettersfromladyn

To whom it may concern :),

One of the most difficult aspects of putting together the collection, for me, was gathering the work into some kind of coherent running order.

The work in both ‘Darkhaired’ and ‘Night Divers’ was created over a timeframe rather than to a theme – although, that said, I am in great agreement with something I’d heard Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill say at one time about how poems actually collect around a subject even if you believe you are working in a whole new universe in each individual poem.  In retrospect, there does seem to be an underlying, obsessive working out of things. At least at my end.

For ‘Darkhaired’ the order kind of apppeared under my hands…after about 10-15 different runs of creating the pamphlet.

For ‘Night Divers’ I was bewitched, bothered and bewildered. I had about twice the amount of work and no shape and make to it. I was lucky to have a title that stayed the course. I asked for suggestions and it was said to me by more than one (and very helpfully as it turned out) that there is a kind of inspired magic about composing the collection, in the same manner that you’d find in the composing of a poem (I think the magic you find in the editing process is in question here – when you find a word and it’s totally throwing the right kind of shadows in every direction, for example).

I think it was Sinead Morrissey who had mentioned the possibility of finding gaps that needed to be filled, in the process.

And so I shuffled the pages like a deck of cards, I dropped them from a height and saw if an order would emerge from where they fell, I left my printer to spew them out in a mighty scatter on the hall floor, I created an external-structure based on the movements in Night Divers (the poem), and after awhile something did begin to take.

And in a rather magic manner – a gap appeared – and a in a rather magic manner – it was filled. (That’s a story for another time). After awhile something ressembling a final order began to emerge, for good or for ill.

What I wanted to share is something that I found very useful thWP_20170316_10_27_45_Proat I only happened upon very late in the day.

In one of the final edits, I discovered two overleaf verses had gotten lost. When we added them back the resulting extra page messed up what was appearing on the left and right page – which also plays a part in laying things out as I discovered.

In order to get a visual perspective I laid the pages out – side by side – on the floor in the order they appeared, and immediately I could see not only what was falling on the left and the right hand pages, where the ‘overleaf’ poems were splitting, but also what came before and after at a glance – and further back and futher forward. I wished I’d thought of this strategy much earlier in the process – so I thought I’d put it out there should it be of any help to anyone.

In the meantime, happy collecting!

Night Divers (Templar Poetry, 2017) launches at Keats House, London, on the 25 April.