This was her writing table, this her chair
(‘Please Do Not Sit’): two bijou items placed
here by the window where the light fell square
on her page from the horse-drawn world she faced.
In a cramped corner the public (that’s me
and you) peer through glass at her neat handwriting;
or we squeeze into the bedroom which she
and her sister shared – until she was dying.
We visitors are whispering, withdrawing
from each other. We feel too tall, too loud,
navigating all this china, imploring
children to be careful. We’re quite a crowd. ……We open a door (she would have opened it too, ……her skirts brushing the frame) and we pass through.
John Looker’s poetry collection, The Human Hive, was selected by the Poetry Library for the UK’s national collection. His poems have appeared in print and in online journals and will be included in three anthologies for publication in 2017. A selection of John’s poetry can also be found HERE.
This is neither a beginning
nor the prophecy of an ending
for beginnings & endings are lies
told to the once-living
it is not the exemplifying
of the aberrations the alchemists made
when they dethroned our Divine Queen
& transmuted her golden honey
into their iron pyrite philosophy
that left us to wither
inside our stunned husks
& so this is the emptying
of our errant devotion
to the denial of bodily hunger
the sanctified unbelieving
in fairytales of heavenly salvation
& it is the vital refilling
of infants’ gaping mouths
with earthly fortitude
& here now is the weeping
for our birth-story interred
with our long-dead mothers
who delivered us
& secured our velvety aboriginal flesh
to their warm breasts—
the saline unleashing
to purify our Logos
our will to creation our innate need
to manifest our god-selves
it is the recovering
of the Life that was severed from our psyches
when it was reduced to a Word
& uttered bereft of melody—
the unrepressed singing
Artemis awake from her slumber
beneath her ruined Temple in Ephesus
at last this is the extricating
of shame that made our tongues
untie us from our Mother’s holy earth
& swayed our ears to scorn her winged songs
even as she kept flying back to us
ever thick-limbed & fragrant
with nourishment from lavender blooms
solely that we should swell in our birthing cells
gorged on her royal jelly
This poem is my body
distended with new hope
it is my luminous black eyes
grown huge with their memory
of who I am
To listen to a reading of this poem, click on the player below:
You can read more of Stephanie L. Harper’s poetry on her blog,HERE.
This year I had the pleasure of an excess of inspiration, both in my work and outside of it. First and foremost I had the amazing luck and pleasure of translating a book by Andrea Moro, an Italian linguist and neuroscientist. The book was about the verb ‘to be’, its grammatical (and in some senses philosophical) history, it’s unique position in linguistic theory and a tempting little possibility of a hint about how our brains ‘react’ to language. Fortunately for me, the book was geared towards a non-specialized reader and chock-full of fascinating stuff that I never knew about language. I learned more than I could have ever imagined. Meanwhile, in preparation for translating that book, I read a few of his other books, both in Italian and in English to get a sense of his perspective and voice before I began the translation. As soon as I read the following line from “The Boundaries of Babel: The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages” my mind went straight to this essay that I would be writing to introduce International Poetry Month 2017. It so clearly describes the reader’s experience while also implying the writer’s:
Even now, your eyes are following a string of black signs that conveys ideas and images that were produced by a different brain in a different place at a different time. If I wanted, I could, simply by writing, activate images in your mind that may not have been there before: A long line of lizards crossed the desert without even stopping to dream. It is quite unlikely that you have already encountered this sentence. Nevertheless, the image was created in your mind with no effort, just by your scanning that string of black symbols. -Andrea Moro
Imagine what power poets have to create in the mind of a given reader, who exists in a completely different place and time, a never-before-encountered image. What a joy it is to write! Communicating across time and space, creating a word-map of your own images, associations and experiences waiting to be unfolded and explored. And then again, what a profound pleasure to read! The unexplored word-map awaits only your eye to be revealed and, in the reading, creates a new map of your own associations and experiences.
Over 2016 the power of language to damage and tear apart has never been more evident, from Oxford’s word of the year,post-truth, to fake news, to political rhetoric, to harsh exchanges between friends and families. In February of 2017 I would like to counterweight language’s destructive power and offer instead an opportunity for language to link people and places in a shared ‘neural network’ of creative exchange between readers and writers.
Savoir faire, sauveur, sauge…
Creuse RUE DE SEINE
Le sein s’élargit sous les pierres
avec un souffle scintillant
á dix heurs e demie:
“dis-moi la vérité…”
Savoir faire dire
la vérité est vide:
avec nos paroles
aussi belles e sauvages.
Sauge / Saveur.
Savoir / Sauveur.
Sa voix faire…
EMPTY WORDS (for Jaques Prévert)
Know how, saviour, sage…
Excavate RUE DE SEINE
The breast expands under stones
with a glinting sigh
at ten thirty:
“tell me the truth…”
Know how to say
the truth is empty:
Let’s fill it
with our words
also full of savage beauty.
Sage / Savor.
Knowing / Saviour.
Her voice knows…
Okay, tomorrow November begins and I’m going to start writing, a new novel, the rest of the old novel, I don’t know yet and that’s part of the fun. I think that I dreamt about 5 plot-lines last night. This post is titled: Don’t Fence Me In exactly because of that freedom; I consider myself a serious essayist and poet but this month gives me the opportunity to relax and have fun, to be silly, and to chase any idea I would like for the next month without the burden of worrying whether or not it meets my professional writing standards. I encourage anyone who has the vaguest interest in writing to dive in and play for the month of November. Below are the links to my page on the site and the home page itself. Hope to see you there. Happy Halloween!