If there is a better indulgence than a room with a smallish group of people; being invited to speak about yourself and having the opportunity to pilfer the ideas of others, I don’t know what it is. All that, and no hangover.
I imagine, with ample justification, that I’m a tad unsophisticated about poetry. I like the hits, Philip Larkin, They fuck you up, your mum and dad, John Betjeman’s Christmas and Joan Hunter Dunn, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and Goodbat Nightman by Roger McGough.
I used to be able to make up glib rhymes at school,
Wash your pans with Brillo pads
Get the Guinness down you lads
Take Phensic if you’ve got it bad
All the rage for teenage fads
I struggled with the order of that verse of the poem because I didn’t want it to seem as if I wanted there to be an association between the different lines; drinking Guinness leading on to having to taking painkillers for example. It was written in the mid sixties; I haven’t heard about Phensic analgesics for a long time and I think the phrases All the rage and Teenage fads were prettymuch obsolete even when I was writing them down.
I made up some song lyrics in my sleep once; the word song is probably inappropriate but ditty reminds me of titty so I can’t use it. When I was a student nurse my decrepit bicycle overnighted in a shed in the yard of the terraced house I shared. To jazz it up I’d bought a red head lamp for it. When the shed was broken into the robber stole the red lamp but left my bike behind. I was pretty stung about the rejection and dreamt about the incident a lot. One time in a dream I composed the lines,
My friend is a pastry designer
He’s just had a brand new idea
A sausage roll shaped like a bike lamp
But mark you they’re going to be dear
(I also dreamed the alternative final line - But you’ll never buy them ‘round here)
This was to be sung to the tune of My Bonnie lies over the Ocean.
It was the first and only time I ever woke myself up laughing at my own imagined wit.
Similes worry me because they’re often so clichéd, ‘black as pitch’; or contrived and self conscious, ‘he entered the room like an apology’. This last one mine from the exercise we did on Wednesday inserting similes at the end of phrases. I found if very difficult, the clichés jump into my head first and then I labour to be creative and come out with ‘Disgusting as hair pulled slimy from a plug hole’. The only thing I could bring myself to write down for, ‘her breasts like…’ was ‘her breasts like breasts’. I’ve along way to go.
Looked at a chapter by Theodore Deppe on the Journey a poem makes and jotted down the sequence of a memorable event with a view to paring it down to free verse. I wrote about the adrenaline rush of meeting someone you feel obsessive about. We’re preparing a first draft to take next Wednesday but I’ve changed my experience to the death of a baby. I’m aware that’s probably being sentimental and manipulative and exploitative and clichéd (again) and other bad things beside.
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