Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's Poetry Thursday Again

It's a good thing the prompt at Poetry Thursday is optional, because I am still working on the prompt from about a month ago. Also, the idea of getting out somewhere and listening to what people are saying is a good one - but it's winter here, and I spent Tuesday at home alone indoors, apart from a brisk walk also alone, and Wednesday at work where people say really interesting things like "Would you like a cup of coffee?" or "Normans want to increase their order by ten boxes". Not inspiring poetry material. Actually I suspect this prompt works best with random overheard conversations, where you don't know the context.

The most interesting thing I heard yesterday was my son quoting his maths lecturer. Apparently he told them "We don't like these numbers that play with themselves. It's better if they play with each other, but only in pairs"!?!

Anyway - back to Poetry Thursday. I was giving an account of my relationship with poetry, and had got to the end of my years at high school. At this point I get to skip a whole lot of non-poetry-related stuff and a whole lot of years. Basically, after high school I did a couple of degrees in chemistry, got married, worked for six years as a forensic scientist and toxicologist, left worked and raised five children. Of course I did the mother thing which involved a lot of driving children to music lessons, swimming classes etc. One of the activities for the three youngest was Saturday morning classes at the Christchurch School for Young Writers. This is an excellent place where the children get tuition from published writers who are also experienced teachers. My oldest didn't go there, as she was too old when it was established, but she is also a committed writer who has been polishing her craft for many years.

As the children grew older, I decided it was time to go back to work - first I needed to retrain, so I spent a couple of years doing a business diploma and graduated top of the class. Then nobody wanted to give me a job (the age thing, I guess). It took me a year. At the beginning of that year, I came across Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way", and I joined an online group working through it together. I thought it might help stretch my boundaries in quilting. However,for one of my "Artist dates" (as required by the book), I went to a poetry reading with guest readers and a "bring your own" section. And I started thinking, my children had to get their talent from somewhere, and maybe it was my turn. So at the end of that year I enrolled in a summer school course at the local university, a three day poetry workshop with a very talented local poet Bernadette Hall. (She is also an inspiring teacher, incidentally she had also taught some of my children at their Saturday classes). There's not much to say after that really, it was the beginning of 1999 and I have been reading a lot of poetry, doing a few classes and writing poetry ever since. It was later in 1999 that I got together with a few others I had met on courses to form the "Poetry Chooks" and we still meet regularly every month. We also produced a book of poetry a couple of years ago.

One of the exercises in Bernadette's course was a brain-storming exercise based on the words "river, ice, drought". In the end all three made their way into my poem below:

Drought
Here where the winter rain
froze in the cracks
and pushed until the rocks came tumbling down

Here where the spring swollen river
with the strength of young love
swept me off my feet
and I fell into the cold, sharp shock

Here now the river has grown old
lies shrunken in a stony bed
the grasses withered on the banks
and the rocks feverish in the hot sun

More Poetry Thursday here

11 comments:

Dana said...

Great exercise, great poem, great story about your journey as a poet.

I'll never again look at a rock on a sunny summer day without imagining that it is "feverish in the hot sun."

Becca said...

I loved reading about your journey towards writing, and the way your children's talents inspired you.

This whole writing thing is wondrous, isn't it? And that "cold sharp shock of young love" is so invigorating!

chiefbiscuit said...

Isn't Bernadette lovely? And a fantastic poet! Your poem is georgeous - makes me think of a South Island mountain stream ...

January said...

Wow! Great poem.

(We're actually going through heavy rains here.)

Love that your poem is so economical. Three stanzas and you make every line, every word, count. Lovely!

Catherine said...

Hi chiefbiscuit - the particular stream where I got swept off my feet and fell in was near the Cave Stream car park on the road to Arthurs Pass. I was orienteering - lost my glasses in the water and had to get someone to drive me home because I couldn't see well enough to drive without them. The other images were not necessarily that particular river, though the rocks around there are fantastic - they were various images from the brainstorming, strung together.
Lynn, Becca, thanks.

Star said...

What a busy an interesting life you have had. I see you never stop learning. Good for you. Michele sent me.

paris parfait said...

Beautiful poem! Thanks for sharing your story about writing poetry and encouraging your children to write.

Endment said...

A lot of us "bloggers" are at home for one reason or another -
Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
The poem is so-o-o filled with feeling and experience!

Deb R said...

I love the imagery in this poem - the contrast between the "cold, sharp shock" and the "rocks feverish in the hot sun." Wonderful!

jim said...

What a lovely way to such a knockout poem! And thank you for introducing me to such an important poet!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I loved that poem! It's beautiful!
I know some people who have used The Artists Way and found it to be incredibly helpful...I have seen the book years ago but never did all the things in it.

I'm here from Michele's today!