Talking Poems

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Nigel Hollidge, George, Em Strang (L to R)

I’m becoming more and more interested in the concept and practice of spoken word. Up until 2013, I was almost entirely a page poet, but over the last three years, I’ve slowly discovered the joy and power of performing my work. I think it’s partly tied up with my desire to get out of my head and into my body more, and to keep exploring the collapse of the differentiation between the two. What is a non-dual experience? I want to live and make poetry not just cognitively and emotionally, but also physically.

I’m currently performing my chapbook, a long, narrative poem, ‘Stone’, accompanied by Mat Osmond’s dreamtime images. See the ‘News’ tab for performance dates.

 

 

APOKATASTASIS

Light, a bird’s nest;

a garment of woodpigeons, ru-hoo ru ru-hoo, nodding off in the hems;

waking up in a place where great northern divers

are old throats from the other side,

where nothing any of us can speak of

seems real.

BIRD-WOMAN

Nothing is yet in its true form – C.S. Lewis

 

The bird-woman is in the field in her blue dress,

small bird wrapped in a rag of cotton in her hand,

legs like twigs, throat between songs.

 

The sunlight is squeezing her, squeezing the field-grass

until her blue dress is a distant boat

and the field is the sea,

somewhere used to slipping boundaries.

 

Then two men, hands in pockets,

feet sinking into the grey-black of the road.

The sun is hot and high and they wade into the field,

lose themselves to the waist in straight, green blades.

 

The bird-woman is scuffing the soft, loose earth,

making a bowl for the body.

She lays the bird with its broken neck

and covers it with clover,

small red flowers, lucky leaves.

 

When the men capsize her

the pleats of her dress unfurl.

 

The ground takes their weight.

THE SWIM

 Now for the other life. The one without mistakes – Lou Lipsitz

 

I’m awake. I’m walking downstairs to the kitchen.

The light is long, a slippery white eel through the curtain.

Remember that night we were camping by the lake

and there were bears outside? That’s what it’s like now –

heart racing like a skimmed pebble, palms sweating.

Each new breath, a pike bone.

There’s nowhere else in the poem I can go.

I’m stuck at the kitchen door.

It’s possible that a year passes, maybe more,

enough time for my husband to drift in,

for me to stare after him and shout

at the top of my voice, mouth like a reef,

‘Don’t light the gas! Whatever you do, don’t light the gas!’

But he lights the gas and the kitchen explodes in an aurora of light and heat.

Soon the whole house is ablaze, all the bedrooms, all the roof beams.

Everything we own is burnt in a white heat, like a mirage.

Then I swim out of the poem into nothing.

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If you’re interested in reading my 2013 thoughts on ecological poetry and creative process, here’s the afterword to my doctoral thesis (Habitude: Ecological Poetry As (Im)Possible (Inter)Connection): Solastalgia

And here’s a link to an essay I wrote for Earthlines, ‘The Poem’s Catch: Leap And Stasis Fused’ (with thanks to Earthlines Magazine): The Poem’s Catch

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