Sunday, 19 September 2010

Poetry is better than fruit (and that means alot coming from me)

I'm not a big poetry writer myself, I tend write a poem once a year and am happy with half of them, but I love reading poetry. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it's so transferable you can listen/watch/read poetry and still take something away from it. I love the way that poetry can fit into your every day life and yet, there is poetry for every occasion.

Whether you want a poem to fit every day; such as Max Wallis who manages to write something every day even if it is about ice cream (though I believe this is changing to a website about his novel now), or you want to listen to the poet reading their work, such as on the innovative Poetry Station, there's always something out there for you. Another good website to dip in and out of is The Pygmy Giant, though I prefer to join their mailing list and then I get poetry/short fiction straight to my inbox everyday ;)

One of my favourite things is when poets animate their work with a video. I believe it makes the poem more powerful as it puts another layer of meaning behind the words. It also means that the poet regains control of the poem as there is less chance for alternative interpretation. As well as, of course, making it accessible to those who don't necessarily enjoy reading poetry. Such as the below video of Manchester poet Dominic Berry:

"Manchester" by Dominic Berry from Siobhan McGuirk on Vimeo.
I try to read one poem a day as it helps me break out of a mindless routine and reminds me there are bigger things in life to worry about. One of my favourite ever poems is The Woman Who Could Not Live with Her Fault Heart by Margaret Atwood, which I have put at the end of this blog,though granted it does have a melancholic theme so it's not really for every day.

I recently bought a copy of Popshot, the poetry and illustration magazine, from their broken biscuits promotion which I am still delving into. I bought issue two which is themed around 'Them and Us' and I love the mix of illustation with poetry and the challenging which it presents. Sometimes the image will compliment what you pictured when reading the poem or even add more to your internal image, and other times it will conflict with what you thought the poem was about. Though one of the main elements that I love about poetry is that it is subjective and is easily interpreted to help you through a personal situation. I wonder how this freedom of interpretation affects the poets creating the work? I know in my own writing I like to leave an element to the readers imagination as stories are more powerful when you can directly relate to them.

Something else which I feel is a necessity for poetry, is watching live local poetry; whether it is first timers at an open mic night or an up and coming artist embracing their local culture. One of my favourite local poets who I've seen perform at the lively Freed Up Poets and also at Manchester's Poetry Pillow, is Jackie Hagan. She's one of those rare poets that can make a poem work on the page as well as bringing it off the page when performed. You can read some of her poetry on her facebook page.

One last thing I would like to ask is: can a poet be as strong in fiction as they are in poetry, or vice versa? The majority of the time I would like to say no, that a novelist will never be as strong in poetry or a poet as strong in fiction; they have learnt to hone their skills on their particular format. However, of course there are exceptions to this rule, such my previously mentioned favourite poem below. Here's my poem of the day, I hope you enjoy.

The Woman Who Could Not Live with Her Faulty Heart
By Margaret Atwood

I do not mean the symbol
of love, a candy shape
to decorate cakes with,
the heart that is supposed
to belong or break;

I mean this lump of muscle
that contracts like a flayed biceps,
purple-blue, with its skin of suet,
its skin of gristle, this isolate,
that caved hermit, unshelled
turtle, this one lungful of blood,
no happy plateful.

All hearts float in their own
deep oceans of no light,
wetblack and glimmering,
their four mouths gulping like fish.
Hearts are said to pound:
this is to be expected, the heart's
regular struggle against being drowned.

But most hearts say, I want I want,
I want, I want. My heart
is more duplicitous,
though no twin as I once thought.
It says, I want, I don't want, I
want, and then a pause.
It forces me to listen,
and at night it is the infra-red
third eye that remains open
while the other two are sleeping
but refuses to say what it has seen.

It is a constant pestering
in my ears, a caught moth, limping drum,
a child's first beating
itself against the bedsprings:
I want, I don't want.
How can one live with such a heart?

Long ago I gave up singing
to it, it will never be satisfied or lulled.
One night I will say to it:
Heart, be still,
and it will.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Literature of the day

I love the idea of making literature more accessible; whether that's by creating shorter pieces that fit neatly into busy lives, or mixing images with words to bring a story off the page. Electric Literature, I believe, does both these things.

Today, my favourite piece is below.

I hope you like it.