Words

July 17, 2017

If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.

Seamus Heaney
Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney

An artist

July 12, 2017

I think that the best thing for me as an artist is to be able to turn my back on a piece of work. What that means is that I put my best effort, my best intention and care into it. I see it as a raft that I’m sending down river, and I’m on shore, so I get to turn around and see what else I can make with my hands.

Ocean Vuong
Interviewed by David Winter for the Poetry Foundation

focus my craft

July 7, 2017

I really hated poetry for most of my life, so it is kind of interesting that I’m now a poet. I still don’t like a lot of poetry. I get bored easily, and I am not interested in reading poems about the woods or whatever. I don’t know what a pasture is. So, I think the way that I have tried to focus my craft is writing poems that feel relevant to me and my life and reflective of that.

Morgan Parker
Interview with Sydney Gore for Nylon

It’s the last stanza, though, that makes Frost into a genius, both poetically but also in his insight into human character, storytelling and literature. The stanza is retrospective as the traveller/poet looks back on his decision – “ages and ages hence” – and comments how we create a life through the poetic fictions that we create about it to give it, and ourselves, meaning. The story that the poet will tell is that:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Notice the stuttering, repetitive “I” that Frost uses both to maintain the rhyme scheme (“I/by”) but also to suggest the traveller/poet’s uncertainty about who made the choice. The narrative drive is re-established with the penultimate line “I took the one less travelled by,” to conclude with a satisfying resolution that ties everything in a neat biographical lesson “And that has made all the difference.” But it has made no difference at all. The difference, the life, is created in the telling, something that Frost does, of course, masterfully.

David C. Ward
What Gives Robert Frost’s ”The Road Not Taken” Its Power?
Originally published on Smithsonian.com 10 August 2015

I read indiscriminately

June 13, 2017

I could for instance talk about my education, which critics say I have not got. And that is true enough but I do wish I had learned some other languages apart from English, BBC third program, and saloon. Then perhaps I could understand what some people mean when they say I have been influenced by Rimbaud. My education was the liberty I had to read whatever I cared to, I read indiscriminately and all the time with my eyes hanging out. I never could have dreamt there were such goings on, such duels and argy-bargies, such ice blast of words, such love and sense and terror and humbug such and so many blinding bright lights breaking across the just awaking wits – and splashing all over the pages as they can never quite do again after the first revelation. In a million bits and pieces, all of which were words, words, words. And each of which seemed alive forever in its own delight and glory and right.

It was then in my father’s brown study before homework, usually the first botched scribbling of gauche and gawky heart choked poems about black bloomered nymphs, the jussive grave, and the tall improbable love of the sardine packed sky – poems never to be shown to anyone except on pain of death. But I began to know one kind of writing from another – one kind of badness and one kind of goodness. I wrote endless imitations. though I never at the time of writing them thought them to be imitations but rather colossally original things unheard of like eggs laid by tigers. Imitations of whatever I happened to be galloping then; Thomas Brown, Robert Douglas Service, Stevenson, De Quincy, Eskimo Nell, Newbolt, Blake, Marlowe, the imagists, the boys own paper, Keats, Poe, Burns, Dostoevsky, Anon and Shakespeare. I tried my little trotters at every poetical form – how could I know the tricks of this trade unless I tried to do them myself, for the poets wouldn’t soar from the grave and show me how their poems were done by mirrors. And I couldn’t trust the critics then… Or now.

Dylan Thomas
A few words of a kind

Upside down, inside out

June 10, 2017

9th June

I love her grinding against me. I love her doing that until she moans in my mouth.

I’m a creature of many addictions: women, words, whiskey…and chocolate! Chocolate brings out the primordial in me: it’s like original sin, or the sudden shock of first sexual contact; it’s a secret, eternal flame in my head, flooding my body with endorphins! And God, I always need it – not in the way you need something in order to survive, but in a way that makes life worthwhile. It is so real, so raw – like a teenage hard-on! Eating chocolate you feel yourself inside out, and you realise ‘there are no walls here anymore!’

On the other hand it’s a bit of a bugger if it melts in your hand –

And whiskey…well…it allows you to see through the flaws in your own ego. It deadens and distorts. Mists your window on the world – so that your vanity, your fears and desires become totally out of proportion to any other observable reality – which is not necessarily a good thing! However, it does also help you forget that you’ve eaten all that lovely chocolate, and there is no more!

And women – even at their worse, they are feckin’ incredible! They have always been the sunshine in my life…And, at times, the darkness, too!

So, what of words? Words have always been my life, for as long as I can remember. But not through choice, of course. Who would voluntarily chose words as their life?

Words dominate because of something darker , deeper inside of me. My demons, perhaps? Who can say – ?

I’ve been trying to think of a more realistic ending to fairy tales. Instead of ‘And they lived happily ever after’, go for ‘And she never saw him again, ever…’

25th / 26th May

Is it possible I’ve inhaled you in to me? Isn’t that you hiding behind my eyes? I can feel you in my blood, flowing, an impossible heat…

Beside the river bank, jeweled weeds: stinging nettles with translucent stems like human bones in miniature and cow parsley and foxgloves with warm, moist interiors like glowing uteruses.

Hot, sultry weather. At dawn the light seeped like a sigh into the night. Here, in the middle of nowhere, time ceases – or rather, ceases to have meaning. And my thoughts slip into lost infinities –

I hear your laughter, like co-conspirators, the pair of you: children spontaneously giggling. Last night we three drowned in dreams together, and came to realise the distances between stars is vast and lonely. Night remained framed in the bedroom window, while a solitary flickering candle reflected in the glass blotted out those stars and the monstrosities living between them.

I felt your hands running slowly across my memories –

#

Zentai, so I understand, is a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body. A second skin, so to speak. I think of those men and women with a latex fetish, smooth as polished black glass, but with access of some sort at the crotch –

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It is easy to imagine Beauvoir on top of Sartre until she gives that one loud, feminine shriek of pleasure realised. Sartre, of course, is all about suppressed desires, wet dreams, and –

Beauvoir would have hated having him on top of her, stabbing her over and over, until every nerve felt split and bruised. Her pale silver body forced open by him. She would have thought of a new born desperately trying to scramble back inside its mother. She’d have hated that, but would have faked an orgasm anyway. Sartre, of course, wouldn’t have been fooled by her deception –

But he would have remained reasoned, affectionate and polite –

While I would have purchased her a dress of words; she had the most beautiful hands, you know? The slender, flexible fingers of the most lewd fricatrice imaginable. Oh, how I would have loved her to rub me in that special way –

#

Love can be such a fatal disease; kisses infect; kisses kill – like a freakin’ apocalypse of infected lips and words, drowning us all in my disjecta membra.

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Writing is a battle between laziness and lies which, if you’re lucky, exposes truth.

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Beside the river in such dreamy weather it is easy to image that ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 when Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) with his friend the reverend Robinson Duckworth took the three Liddell sisters rowing on the Thames. Lorina Charlotte was the eldest sister, aged thirteen, Alice Pleasance was ten and Edith at age eight, the youngest. They had tea together on the riverbank near Godstow, and Dodgson told them “the fairy-tale of Alice’s adventures underground”. Dodgson who had many ‘child-friends’ and liked to photograph ‘naked little girls’, had a great fondness for writing ‘nonsense’, playing with mathematics, logic and words, and, welding them together, he created on that sun-filled day an immortal children’s fantasy –

Here, today, the hedgerows are a tangled mass of colour: valerian, red campion, common mallow, field ‘forget-me-nots’, and of course blue bells and daffodils grow all around. Nearby woods offer dappled shade and ‘secret places’ where blue bells run wild – as if on steroids! Often we have picnicked here or made love or just sat and contemplated our wild surroundings –

‘For I think it is Love,
For I feel it is Love,
For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!’

If ever you feel oppressed by the ‘monstrous mindlessness’ of the cosmos, walk here in the woods beside the river, and that oppression will soon fade away.

Betrayal features in my work and always has done. It’s a feature of human nature, the kink in the mix that makes us the strange and interesting creatures we are. (I mean, we betrayed our own species back in the Cretacean period (I think it was), when we mated with Neanderthals. That makes most of us between 1 and 4% Neanderthal). The betrayal of love, the betrayal of truth, the betrayal of honour, the betrayal of innocence.

Mary O’Donnell
Self-Interview with Mary O’Donnell – Spring 2014

To dream without sleep

March 25, 2017

Diary 24th / 25th March

Question: What is the hardest thing to write about?

Answer: Happiness – anyone car write about misery, it’s easy. But real happiness with all its stubborn imperfections is the subject matter of great writers (unfortunately, I’m far from being a great writer).

My own writing evokes an inner world, a world of projections, fantasies and demonic illusions – or such is my intention. It is a world of emotionally greedy women, men whose incredible egoism is pushing them towards madness, and precocious adolescents who form an integral part (whether willingly or not) of the “ME” generation, which we seem to have created during the past three decades. All in their own way are seeking love and happiness; and all are sublimely selfish, considering only themselves in the paths they choose to take.

#

In good art we do not ask for realism; we ask for truth.

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Pussy is a good moisturiser for the whole face. I like to apply it nightly. Even daily if the opportunity presents itself.

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I have some sympathy with Oscar Wilde when he said: ‘I have no objection to anyone’s sex life as long as they don’t practice it in the street and frighten the horses.’ No one should ever want to frighten the horses.

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‘As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note’ – so said Georges Bizet, and I totally agree.

Diary 7th / 8th March

Such irregular days filled with tempestuous winds. Hear it whistling in the chimney, day and night. Gusting. Carrying the dead, desiccated heads of last year’s geraniums over the lawn. Dustbin lids rattle and crash. And rubbish is scattered. It roars like an express train overhead as it flaps through the hills from the coast…

And the rain – torrential at times! Threatening a veritable Noah’s flood. We should be building an ark, gathering animals two by two. Then, afloat after 150 days, the waters will recede and we’ll find ourselves together on Ararat.

Truly, we are experiencing weather of biblical proportions!

Oh, summer when will you return…?

#

Then: Paris, at age seventeen: a necropolis of a city; a place of the dead, stinking of traffic fumes, freshly baked bread, and smouldering Gauloises cigarettes. A city imbued with odd shadows and strange intrusions of darkness that confused and misled the unwary. It tasted of pernod and water and Bouillabaisse and bitter black coffee.

The women, you’ll recall, tasted of salt and sweat, acrid beneath a casual dab of perfume – that perfume always gardenia on the tarts: perhaps sex workers clubbed together and purchased in bulk for a discount…?

But the whores like the city were all about pretend. Smelling of gardenia around the tits, but of Roquefort between the legs.

It was a city of rising and falling, of bright lights and darkness. The easy voluptuous rhythm of sex, and the staccato barking of car horns. French men drove with their hands on their horns, whispering their our Fathers and their hail Marys until journeys end. Jazz clubs at night, then a trip to one of the many ethnic joints for couscous “à la française”.

And writing, writing, writing until your hands cramped and you were good for nothing – not even a quick wank!

Paris, a place of occult phenomena, of conflicting absurdities. A city filled with monstrous revenants, a catastrophe…but what the hell, the Metro was cheap as chips!

In a world smitten with insanity we still have Paris and its Metro! I felt like Orpheus underground in search of my true Eurydice on the glorious Paris Metro.

Remember? Wandering the museums and galleries, day in day out, like one in a narcotic daze. Parallel worlds could be accessed there. You could easily become lost. I believe you did become lost…?

And, oh, how that place could wound. That awful city, headlong full of the undead. Everything was an exaggeration. Already lonely, it painted your imagination with its horrors, its monstrousness, filling your soul with such darkness that you wished everything to end –

But then, come the morning, your ordeal, your self-imposed exile would begin over. Balance returned, however temporarily. You’d go out into the city armed with fresh hope. Experience again the desire to grow and to touch the moon from this terrible place…