The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet

TKCC cover Feb 2014

Sonnets for the Sea

                Inspired by the exhibition of paintings by Bruce Killeen

                (Sonnets of  the Sea)

 I: Metaphorical Distance

Out at farthest focus, drifting, peaceful:

Green ladled with mauve like a healing bruise.

Light lies heavy on the horizon; chooses

To lean its languid body westward. The pull

Of the rolling planet quickens, and the full,

Swelling, murmurous mass of the tide looses

The bonds of gravity, dropping the deep, pellucid,

Purpleness of light gracefully into the ocean’s well.

Dipping my toe into the water, gasping

At the cold, desiring to go deeper and far,

I stare outward along the long divide

Of the horizon; the waves on the sand rasping

At the edge of the land, my feet, my heart:

Like this sea-coloured bruise I am trying to hide.


II: Formalising the Atlantic

Where will you go from here? You’ve measured exactly

The angle of sunlight that, striking the cloud layer,

Refracts through the prism of the horizon, neat and square,

A thousand shades of aquamarine; laying them delicately

End to end along the proper horizontal, modestly

Masked with shadow. With dividers and set square

You’ve drawn the perfect perpendicular, straight and set fair

To indicate the strict statistical limits of visual accuracy.

But how can you calculate clearly, precisely,

The creeping numbness of toes, cormorants, the stark

Face-slap of salt, the way the selkies sing?

Or the kick of the tiller against your wrist, turning nicely

Into the wind? Formal analysis misses the mark:

The poet is in this landscape. That changes everything.

 

III: Like the Sea

Why is a sonnet like the sea? For one,

When you start to search it recedes from you,

Seeping away towards the distant, blue

Hazy hover of light on the horizon.

Its going reveals deep clefts, exposed to the sun:

Vulnerable. Laid open to the view

Of the inner eye: arid fields of conflict; overdue

Reminders of other projects, left undone.

On a moment, while your back is turned: the change.

Moving effortlessly with the moon’s quiet pull,

Thought washes back, inescapable.

The mind’s tide rises. Words rearrange

Themselves. The ocean inspires: limpid, brimful

Of creativity. Not to write would be intolerable.

 

Harbour

Sunlight on the bay:

Golden promise of summer

Holds rain in its lap.

 

Clematis

Flower essences

Flow from the midnight pen of

My garden poet.

 

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Voice of Monarch Butterflies

voice of monarch butterflies

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voice-Monarch-Butterflies-Eastern-Anthology/dp/1533565198/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466708530&sr=8-1&keywords=voice+of+monarch

I didn’t come to this anthology cold. I am already following two of its poets on Twitter: the editor, Iranian poet Soodabeh Saeidnia, and my friend, Egyptian poet Ash Bahget, host of the #Ashverse poetry thread and a muse to many of us in his own right. I confess I bought the book purely to have the pleasure of reading some of Ash’s longer works. Twitter poetry is a challenge and a pleasure, but there is a different vibe in a longer poem, room to breathe and stretch a little, to let the words spread themselves out and show their depth.

I have a great respect for any writer who has the strength of will to write in a language not their first. Reading these poems, I prepared myself to be tolerant, thinking that quality might easily be hidden under a lack of facility with the language. O woman of little faith, hang your head in shame. Here is the language I have spoken from the cradle, turned and examined and crafted by ten poets, all of whom are completely competent in at least two written languages. I have never had the nerve to write in any language but my mother tongue, and now I find myself outed as a dilettante, a shiftless layabout, a poet only half committed to my craft, speaker of only a single language. And lazy!

Here I find images the mind cannot let go:

Even though the petals fell / blackened like leaves from hell / the tree is still standing…

-Ash Bahget

 

Moments of pure heartache:

I love the people / who left footprints / on my heart beach

Never faded / by waves / of other smiles

-Soodabeh Saeidnia

 

The power of desire:

Take a sip of me / I’ll drift under your skin

-Anooshka Khazaeie

 

Touching:

I tried many times / to forget your words / to unlearn the memories

To untie the knot forever…

…I am prisoning myself in the walls of your words.

-Abu Sufian

 

Heartbreakingly topical:

The girls had dropped their head scarves and dropped shoes along the way

I used that as a guide to follow where the Hashtag came from…

From ‘Hashtag’ by Debasis Mukhopadhyay

 

The walking bomb / frustrated and scared / cannot focus on green gardens any more…

-Aimal Zaman

 

Breadth of scholarship: these poets reference Darwin and Scheherezade, monarch butterflies and sequoias, American poet Anne Sexton, Sufism and ekphrasis, the rose among thorns, the bird in a cage. These are words born out of the absolute necessity of the poet to speak to us, and in reading them we go on a journey for which we were not – could not ever be – prepared.

This book will have a worthy place on my poetry shelf, one day far into the future, when it has stopped being beside my desk tempting me, every day, to open it and read one more poem.

And I am completely in awe of the sheer reckless bravery of the man who has not only read Kafka, but manages to write poetry about the experience! I am leaving the final words to him.

…-Like a dog! Like a dog! I say and fold the page in a hundred folds to unfold a crease that never comes out.

-Debasis Mukhopadhyay

 

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Review of Parallax by Sinead Morrissey

the StAnza Blog

sinead-morrissey-parallaxAs part of our project to make available reviews of poets taking part at StAnza 2015, we are obliged to DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – for allowing us to re-post this review from their website. Written by staff and students, DURA supports independent cinema & publishing. DURA promotes diversity and supports local and regional arts. See more reviews of poetry and prose on their website at http://dura-dundee.org.

Parallax (Winner of the 2014 TS Eliot Poetry Prize)

Sinéad Morrissey
(Carcanet, 2013); pbk, £9.95

Parallax is an astronomical term for the apparent displacement of an object caused by a change in the point of observation. In this wide-ranging collection of the same name, short-listed for the 2013 Forward Prize, Morrissey considers from different angles how our position affects what and how we see.

In several poems, Morrissey’s lens is taken from the visual arts. She writes about…

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POETRY & PROSE VOTING PAGE!!

My Valentine poem ‘Sunkissed’ is number 4 here. Pop over and vote for your favourite.

POETRY & PROSE VOTING PAGE!!.

Indian Summer

It really has been the most gorgeous week on the beautiful Isle of Mull.

Indian summer

The leaves are falling, crisp underfoot,
and the hills shimmer in the heat.
I crave ice in my glass, breeze, shade;
my sandals are cool on my feet,
boots shoved back in the porch.
The sun’s a pendant in flaming brass,
hung on a cloth of dusty blue.
I’m melting. How long can this last?

Saxophone

Today’s September 2014 poem-a-day. I’ve been listening to a new jazz recording a friend has given me.

The elegiac quality of saxophone
eases its way into my mind,
quietly asserting its charm,
sliding deftly into its place
in my aural memory,
as if it had never been away.

Poetry Map Poem 25: Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

the StAnza Blog

Metaphorical Distance

Out at farthest focus, drifting, peaceful:
Green ladled with mauve like a healing bruise.
Light lies heavy on the horizon; chooses
To lean its languid body westward. The pull
Of the rolling planet quickens, and the full
Swelling, murmurous mass of the tide looses
The bonds of gravity, dropping the deep, pellucid,
Purpleness of light gracefully into the ocean’s well.

Dipping my toe into the water, gasping
At the cold, desiring to go deeper and far,
I stare outward along the long divide
Of the horizon: the waves on the sand rasping
At the edge of the land, my feet, my heart:
Like this sea-coloured bruise I am trying to hide.

Yvonne Marjot

To view our Map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see http://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see http://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map…

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Berceuse for a Sleeping Mirror: F G Lorca 5 June 1898-19 August 1936.

Como mi corazón
así tú,
espejo mío.

As my heart is,
so you are,
my mirror

On this day in 1936, Spanish poet Federico García Lorca was shot by Franco’s troops after being forced to dig his own grave.

I was introduced to Lorca’s poetry by one of my boyfriends.To grant a poet the gift of another poet’s words, when those words are precisely what is needed in the situation: that is a gift beyond measure. It seems only fitting that today, when things are difficult and my mood is low, I turn to Lorca to commune with a fellow soul and am reminded that this is the anniversary of his death.

Lorca’s a hard man to get to grips with. It’s tempting to try and shoehorn him into categories, which I won’t list here – because he’s not so easily pigeonholed. For me he speaks the silent language of the heart, the words birds make when they swirl past you, the staccato machine-gunned voices of argument, the slow slip of the river into which we are so, so tempted to fall. To my friend he said something entirely different.

Here is a man who spoke a language other than my own, whose life followed a path with which I am unable to fully empathise, whose generation lived and died in a world that now seems so very distant from our own. So very distant. It was, after all, another century. But his words still speak to me. “Is my heart your heart? Who is mirroring my thoughts? Who lends me this unrooted passion?”

Maybe they will speak to you too.

2014 StAnza Digital Slam Results!

Listen to the winner of the StAnza blog poetry slam, Stephen Watt. A cracking poem.

the StAnza Blog

StAnza 2014 Slam, photo by Helena Fornells Nadal StAnza 2014 Slam, photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Thanks again to everyone who took part and/or voted in our 2014 Digital Slam, and to this year’s partner, the Badilisha Poetry Exchange. It was a strong shortlist and we received a record number of votes. These have now been counted etc, and we can announce:

In third place: Ama Asantewa Diaka

In second place: Batsirai Chigama

And the WINNER of our 2014 Digital Slam is: Stephen Watt

Congratulations to Stephen! Look out for a special blog about him in a week or so. In the meantime, here’s the winning performance:

4. Stephen Watt (Dumbarton)




And if this has whetted your appetite for slam, don’t forget the heats of this year’s BBC Edinburgh Slam at the Fringe, in which StAnza’s Eleanor Livingstone is again a judge, are currently taking place every evening until Thursday at 8.15pm in the Pink Bubble at Potterrow…

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Controlled Burn

Here’s a wee poem I wrote for the Twitter #fieryverse prompt ‘controlled burn’.

He falls,
rope wrapped around one forearm,
the other controlling his descent.
Watching the play of muscle and skill,
I burn.

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