I'm part way through the Open College of the Arts 'Starting to Write' course and am finding it strange. I'm a better writer than I think I am but I have no idea when I am going right or what I do wrong, so I thought a course would help. It turns out, I cut the emotions down when I edit, so my first drafts are better emotionally than the final drafts, which are much better English. Not entirely helpful when writing poetry! So now I have written 4 poems for my first assignment. I didn't know enough about poetry to say whether they were any good at all but my tutor said they were OK with some ideas for improvement (and a lot of pruning). The message was, less is more, so I will endeavour to cut out unnecessary words on my next batch. Here are three of them.
A stone shelter in the winter garden,
Where he loved to sit, stick tapping
Some private rhythm of his own.
Rustic and cool, loneliness enstoned,
I gaze onto humming, sunlit spaces.
Ivy invades, explores the empty window frame,
While green hellebores in full flower tip into decay,
Awareness aroused, softened grief spreading with sunlight.
Ash trees spread still naked limbs to the sun,
An oasis of winter in the passion of spring,
Saps rising, yearning, vigour seeping back.
Emeralds and jades top fresh shoots,
Dogwood bark glows, yellows through red,
Rainbows tint winter greys with pastels and brights.
Bees attend new flowers, abandon the old,
Birds call dominance and allure from every tree,
Bumbles accept mute offerings from upturned flowers,
As spring slowly conquers the winter garden,
Transforms the ravaged landscape.
Meeting the QE2
Nan is on the QE2, crooked teeth and brittle blonde,
Crimpolene amongst silks, organdies, gauzes and tweeds.
Passengers pose, elegance gilded, jewelled and refined
Between vibrant hats and shiny shoes
The QE2, sleek, precise, shipshape in navy and white,
A greyhound among mongrels and mutts, ferries and tugs.
Nan waves in her pools-win fur, squinting into the crowd
Too vain to wear her council house glasses.
My sister, Marilyn
Fading light, first lines of death,
Drowning with each white hair, lost
In a torrent of sadness and shame.
Marilyn was exposed and exploited,
Conquered by beauty and sex,
Possessed by images and film,
My sister, exposed and exploited,
Was conquered by beauty and sex
Controlled by lustful, greedy men.
Sprawled on rank harbour mud.
Investigation, speculation, pull her away
Tear at our shared blood and bone.
They slipped into a mythic tale,
A fantasy of passion and princes.
Booze and pills drifted them away.
Overdosed on life and finally free,
Beautiful in a Welsh mortuary
She dreams of Marilyn.
Spring again is about losing my much loved father in law, and the winter garden at RHS Rosemoor. Meeting the QE2 drew on a childhood memory, and My sister, Marilyn is about my sister, whose life paralleled Marilyn Monroe's, down to her suicide.