Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Dancing Round Tony Harrison and Maypoles
It was Cambridge Wordfest this last week-end and I availed myself of it to mainline on workshops and readings. Tobias Hill workshop had me sweating over writing a sonnet in iambic pentameter with rhyme and then onto examining a Klingon translation of a poem. I then went to a reading by Tony Harrison, who has been a poetic hero of mine for some time. His poems about the tragedies of war, the social and economic ills that fester under the surface of Britain are made all the more poignant for me by his ability to adjust his focus to explore the smaller tragedies and experiences of the individual, in particular his own family. Long Distance II, exemplifies this ability.
His film poem Black Daisies for the Bride about a hospital ward in Yorkshire for those suffering from dementia has re-run itself through my head many times, especially as my own mother tumbled down the rabbit hole into that particular wonderland, where cards speak, caterpillars smoke and the small girl you once were sits and dines with the Mad Hatter..not so different from the delusions of dementia.
Speaking to him afterwards, or rather mumbling incoherently in awe and dancing from foot to foot, I asked if they could be bought on DVD. All his film poems are unavailable to the public apparently; someone will undoubtedly come out with the box set should he kick the bucket he suggested. What a sad state of affairs when something so innovative and groundbreaking slips into the holding archives and gathers dust. Will step off my soapbox now, carefully avoiding all the broken wood I have built around me over the years from clambering onto other soapboxes with a healthy disregard for the weight of my argument and the robustness of the soapbox…still nothing ventured nothing splintered.
George Szirtes pulled a blog posting recently because some thought it unfair to literary agents. Scurrilous…hoorah nothing like a bit of scurrilous to get the juices flowing, raise the blood heat and make grabbing a tiger by the tail a good spectator sport. He offered on the blog to send the post to those who wanted to read it. Of course I did, who could resist. What delicate flowers people must deem agents to be, totally lacking in humour.
I watched some small children dance round a maypole yesterday in glorious sunshine. They twisted and turned, plaited and wove, got tangled and laughed, a good way to acknowledge early summer, the early Hawthorn, the early swifts, the global warming. I resisted going out at dawn to collect a bucket full of dew, which I am told by various wise old fen hags should show me the reflection of a future husband. I don’t do dawn and I puzzled about how you collect dew off my wildlife area(lawn), a spoon seems rather a slow process and enough to fill a bucket might take a while and cause the neighbours to speculate on my sanity. An unbroken peel from an apple thrown over a shoulder is meant to give you a future husband’s initial which might as a g ( as in g for George Clooney ) or an O (as in Orlando Bloom) surrender itself up to the natural proclivity of any apple peel to curve and coil; I like to work with the odds in my favour.