Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Breathing Space

That's something I don't seem to have much of lately. I find myself thinking back to the last time I worked full-time. It was before I had any children. I seemed to have more spare time then - well, I started work earlier (which meant getting up earlier) but I was finished by just after 4 o'clock. In summer I would often stop by the swimming pool on the way home to swim laps, but I was home in time to cook dinner and then I had all evening free.

There were only two of us - so the laundry was all done at the weekend, and often the dishes were left till the weekend too :) At one point I was studying for a piano exam, and when the exam date was announced it was a month earlier than I expected, so as soon as dinner was finished I practised the piano for three hours every evening.

Now I wonder where I found the time. Since my husband and the adult children still at home take turns cooking and doing dishes, I only have to do that a couple of times a week. But still, by the time I finish work, get home and eat dinner I don't seem to fit in much else besides laundry, ironing, various household chores, bits of necessary paperwork and of course I do manage to walk or jog several times a week still. I've taken off 12 kgs (about 26 lbs) since last September, gaining energy in the process, and I'm not about to let all that effort go to waste.

Still, tonight I managed to get to a poetry reading. Every autumn the Canterbury Poets have a series of readings, once a week for around six to eight weeks. Usually they receive a grant which helps pay for the costs of bringing guest poets from out of town. This year they missed out, so there are no out-of-town poets. Judging by the first two, however, the standard will be as high using only local talent.

Tonight's two readers were Tom Weston and Fiona Farrell. What struck me about Tom's poems was that lesser poets write about the usual poetic topics, while more talented poets often (not always) find inspiration in much more unexpected places - poems, for instance, about a plague of mice in a medieval town, or about a Turkish poet's journey to New York to find Paul Auster. One of the poems he read was The Unprepared Mind.

Fiona, on the other hand, had spent six months in Ireland last year, and her poems grew out of that experience. They drew on history and genealogy and the experience of immigration and invasion. Here is an earlier poem of Fiona's Eel

Both guests were a treat.

The first half of the evening is always "open mic". I read this poem. There is a weekly vote for the audience favourite - a process which I have mixed feelings about - however I was delighted to receive second place - a $10 book voucher - which is most welcome given our current limited income. I'm planning on putting it towards the cost of Bernadette Hall's new book "Ponies" which is being launched here on Friday night.

(Note to my American readers: $10 here is the equivalent of about $7 US. And books are much more expensive. $25 is fairly standard for a book of poems from a New Zealand poet).


Crafty Green Poet said...

Congratulations on your prize Catherine!

Tia said...

I had no idea you were such a pianist! (An all around creative talent!) Will we ever hear a bit of a concerto on your blog?

Catherine said...

Tia, I haven't played the piano seriously for years. Learning the piano was the thing to do when I was a kid. By the time I got to my Grade 8 exam (which I refer to above) I got I think a pass, close to enough marks for a merit - but way too average to pursue being a concert pianist (if I had ever wanted to)

Kay Cooke said...

I am not as familiar with Tom Weston's work as I am with Fiona's work. What a lovely poem - yours and his are similar I find. Both very striking poems. The poetry scene in Dunedin has gone very quiet - it may liven up once the students get into gear.