Not written much recently; words just not been floating round my head ready for capture and taming. Need to sort that out as new writing course starts soon. Terrified, actually. Will drink in stimulation online from stash of rainy-day bookmarks. First on list is Polish poet Wisława Szymborska’s witty advice.
Follow the link above for a selection of Ms Szymborska’s replies (translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh) to questions submitted to her newspaper column. They are honest –
“Your existential pains come a trifle too easily. We’ve had enough despair and gloomy depths. ‘Deep thoughts,’ dear Thomas says (Mann, of course, who else), ‘should make us smile.’ Reading your own poem ‘Ocean,’ we found ourselves floundering in a shallow pond. You should think of your life as a remarkable adventure that’s happened to you. That is our only advice at present.”
“You write, ‘I know my poems have many faults, but so what, I’m not going to stop and fix them.’ And why is that … ? Perhaps because you hold poetry so sacred? Or maybe you consider it insignificant? Both ways of treating poetry are mistaken, and what’s worse, they free the novice poet from the necessity of working on his verses. It’s pleasant and rewarding to tell our acquaintances that the bardic spirit seized us on Friday at 2:45 p.m. and began whispering mysterious secrets in our ear with such ardor that we scarcely had time to take them down. But at home, behind closed doors, they assiduously corrected, crossed out, and revised those otherworldly utterances. Spirits are fine and dandy, but even poetry has its prosaic side.”
“Perhaps you could learn to love in prose.”
“We have a principle that all poems about spring are automatically disqualified. This topic no longer exists in poetry.”
The first time I read the article, that quote jumped out at me; I had just written this –
April is all about the yellow.
First, primroses, daffodils and dandelions
kick up their golden heels,
reminding the bare pale sun
of its intended colour.
Then, children chase eggs under yolky sunshine, then
flowers fade to white. As April-end nears,
only delicate bones remain
of the vulgarity
of the first flush
a gentle wind is all it takes
to break the hundred hands
from their skeletal clocks, fingers pointing
at gossiping gypsy heads of cow parsley below
as they spirit past above; spectral fingers
scooped up on the lissom breeze.
Up and up and up
towards the maiden hawthorn,
who modestly bows her head under a lacy bridal veil of blossom
as she offers up her sweet dirty stench
to the lukewarmth
of the waxing sulphurous sun.