As part of my writing course we looked at a poem called ‘A Short Story of Falling‘ by Alice Oswald and were asked to write a poem following her structure. I don’t normally write rhyming poems, let alone rhyming couplets so this was a challenge for me. It took a lot of work and tweaking and editing but I enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone.
A short story of the ones left behind
It is the story of the ones left behind between ebb and flow of tide
As waves retreat, new worlds emerge fleeting glimpses, soon submerged
Black rocks gleam, spray kissed, like jewels stand tall between impermanent pools
Acorn barnacles cling tight to mussels’ pearly blues and whites
Conical spirals of periwinkles littered through the seaside shingle
Bladderwrack entangles limpets cigarettes and fishing nets
Crab’s hermitage, a bottle cap first cosy home, then prison, trapped
Translucent sea jelly tentacles of vermicelli
Bag for Life, or Bag of Death? suffocating final breath
This is the story of the ones left behind by sea, and, by humankind
Back in February I did a course about poetry and paintings. One if the exercises was to imagine yourself in a painting. I couldn’t immediately think of any paintings so I was writing myself into an imaginary one, but here it is:
The girl in the sea
She is knee deep in riptides angry greys and blues and browns swirl round her feet. Dark cliffs loom behind her merging with heavy storm- filled clouds.
I am hot, sticky and oppressed by the humidity of a city summer. My blue cotton dress reflects off the protective glass and I threaten to overwhelm her.
I step closer squeeze beneath the gilt frame, between glass and oils and sink into her world. Breathing with relief for a second as the cool air embraces me. Then icy spray spits at my bare arms leaving goosebumps.
I should have chosen that picnic scene in the last room; the one with glasses of wine and the glow of autumnal gold.
The girl still stares towards the horizon knee deep water becomes waist deep and I become afraid. The sea is untamed and will think nothing of taking her as prey.
I am part of a poetry group and due to Coronavirus we have had to cancel meeting up but we have continued via email. So instead of meeting up yesterday, one of the group sent round a prompt for us. She asked us to take a poem and write a response to it.
On Saturday I attended a course about writing poetry based on paintings. It’s not something I’ve ever tried before but my poetry group was going and it looked interesting.
Most of my writing wasn’t great but then I was writing about very different subjects to normal. Throughout the day we wrote about being part of a painting, about moving into or out of a painting, about meeting the artist and being the person who was posing. It produced some fun experiments and got me outside of my normal thinking which is always beneficial.
For a couple of my exercises, I chose to think about a cave painting of a bison.
If I could paint like the cave woman…
…you would see animals dancing across the rock …you would feel the beat of your heart crash with each thrash of hoof
I would show you the creativity of nature so you want to reach into the stone and pull out your own magic – personal, powerful, empowering
and then you, you could create your own universe with your own mystical imaginings
I want to be like the cave woman
I want to be like the cave woman feeling the rock and knowing that’s where the spirit of horse or bear or bison lay & knowing how to release them from their prison of stone.
I want to be like the cave woman who knows earth, and air, and stone as kin & the plants that crowd the forest floor as well as she knows her child.
But I reach out in the dark of my bedroom, not cave, to the untamed sculpture that is my bed with its heap of books and phone chargers searching for the lamp switch.
I could never be without my sacred night space, it’s coccoon of safety edged with fleece and teddy bears and the convienece of electricity that the cave woman could never have dreamt of
I want to be like the cave woman. I want to know my home and land with the intimacy that comes from survival, but with the comforts that turn survival into certainty and in doing so, render the relationship between the land and me nul and void.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll likely know I’ve been photographing the books I’ve read since Boxing Day 2018. This has been alongside #ayearinbooks and has been a fun way of thinking about what I read and how much I read.
The following images cover most of the 130 odd books I’ve read.
A recent tweet made me wonder, of this vast array, what was my favourite, what would I recommend and what would I really not suggest people read… of course these are incredibly difficult decisions to make and I’d like to add the disclaimer that I retain the right to change my mind at any time…!
“On the surface, these essays are about day-to-day life as a wheelchair user with a degenerative disease, but they are actually about family, love, and coming of age. “ – Amazon
The books are well written, easy to read and offer a great insight into life with a disability and being in an interabled relationship. Don’t expect self pity or inspiration porn, expect wit and sarcasm and to very literally, laugh out loud!
Another book that has to be on my recommendation list is The Prison Doctor which I read in a day. This book provides an eye opening insight into the prison system, through the eyes of a doctor – did the title give this away?! At times your heart will be warmed, at other times you’ll want to scream with frustration at the limitations of the prison system and you will definitely feel Dr Brown’s compassion coming through the pages.
All of the offerings from Reaktion Books have been incredible. They have a fantastic series about animals and as well as telling you about the species, they look at how humans and animals have interacted over the years. These books are key for my animal blog posts and this year they’ve had two 50% off sales which has been fantastic! If you find that sort of stuff interesting, I really suggest getting your paws on one of their books.
This year I got a library card for the university library so this year’s reading has happily included a number of academic texts. Perhaps the best, although it’s a tough choice, was possibly Animals and Society by Margo de Mello.
It turned out I can’t label any book as not to be recommended. Partly because I don’t bother finishing books I’m not enjoying – I know several people who will persevere but for me at least, life is too short and I can’t be bothered. I read because I enjoy reading and because I enjoy learning. A bad book gives me neither of those joys.
Over to you! What have been some of your reading highlights over the past year?