Friday, 30 November 2007
Seeing Dragons in the Clouds is an exhibition of the 'Art of the Imagination'. Lizzie Farey looked back to her childhood watching swallows in the sky and created some beautiful impressionistic willow sculptures of swallows. I was also particularly struck by the case of wonderful insects (I didn't make a note of this artists name unfortunately) made from plant parts, a comment on mimicry and camouflage in insects but also an example of incredibly skilled craft.
Both exhibition are on at the City Art Centre until 12 January 2008.
Thursday, 29 November 2007
The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. Published in Spanish in 1988, translated into English 2004.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Monday, 26 November 2007
rocks and stones for One Deep Breath
Continue reading my review here (mine is the second review on the page, just scroll down). I would definitely recommend this book to all the birdwatching poets out there!
Sunday, 25 November 2007
expecting food -
a squirrel runs to me
and hugs my leg.
I write a lot of poetry about animals, especially birds. Here are some examples from the archives:
I have also posted several poems featuring birds over on Bolts of Silk, the most recent being:
Animals for Totally Optional Prompts
Friday, 23 November 2007
there is more than one type of mango.
When I had arrived I had tried one
that was green and stringy and sickly
with a strange metallic tang.
The second, the orange lay in hiding
growing only on shade loving trees,
eaten only by people who know
what a stone well aimed at a branch
can dislodge from a mango tree.
I must admit I was doubtful when a friend
said these ones were different
but the orange mango was heaven
as I bit into sweetest flesh
and the juices ran over my chin.
I came back to the UK too soon
still craving that flavoursome mango.
I went to the supermarket that I thought
would stock what I wanted
and yes they had rows upon rows of mangoes
and every last one was green!
An old poem on the topic of Food for Read Write Poem
Monday, 19 November 2007
California, family holiday when I was 7 - flew
Poland - archeology dig (when everyone else I knew was at their graduation ceremony) - ferry and train, 48 hours of train as I remember...
France - conservation working holiday - ferry and train and bike
Malawi - two years VSO (UK Peace Corps equivalent) - flew
Zimbabwe - holiday when living in Malawi - bus through Zambia, 48 hours of bus with 5 hours stuck in Lusaka bus station. We missed the bus back and so had to fly...
Botswana - holiday when living in Malawi, train from Harare (Zimbabwe)
Germany - several trips, usually with ferry and trains.
Austria - train from Germany
Amsterdam - usually ferry, unless then going on through Germany in which case I have flown sometimes
Spain - exchange trip, flew
Jersey - conference and holiday - flew
Italy - conference and holiday - flew
Scottish islands - numerous visits - ferry, train, local buses, school buses and hired cars.
I've occasionally flown to Bristol for work reasons as the train takes far too long to be justifiable for work purposes. I flew to London with a colleague once but generally take the train to London as that train is speedier in real terms than the flight. I try to avoid flying for environmental reasons, but also I enjoy seeing the scenery from a train or a bus. I like birdwatching from the deck of a ferry and seeing island scenery - an overnight ferry with a film, a couple of drinks and a meal with a nice cabin to sleep in is a very civilised way to travel, I think.
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Festuca rubra shimmers red
Digitaria ischaemum smoothly fingers the air
Agrostis curtisii bristles and bends in a curtsey
Elymus caninus slowly wags its beard
out in the undulating fields
even their names are more beautiful than lawn
their colours greener.
Festuca rubra - red fescue
Digitaria ischaemum - smooth finger grass
Agrostis curtisii - bristle bent grass
Elymus caninus - bearded couch grass
Grass for Weekend Wordsmith
1. I once bumped into an elephant. I was camping in Victoria Falls campsite with a friend and going back to the tent in the dark one night we were scared of stepping on snakes so we were focussing the torch on the ground, then suddenly oops - there was an elephant right in front of us!
2. I hate the smell of Himalayan Balsam. It may be a pretty flower but it stinks!
3. I couldn't face the thought of going to my Graduation Ceremony so I went on an archaeology dig in Poland, much more fun! Then somehow I ended up with two graduation certificates!
4. I find really cool things in the streets - I've found a lovely silver ring with black stones, a wooden ottoman with a velvet lid that looks perfect in the bay window in our bedroom, and books of course.
5. I can't stop buying second hand books, I keep telling myself its an excellent form of recycling and my purchases help charity - both true but how am I going to find time to read all these books?!
6. When I was living in Malawi, one of my fingers swelled up and turned green. I had to lance it with a needle and then it went back to normal.
7. I can't cut in a straight line, as anyone who's ever had a homemade greetings card from me can tell you.... (This is one of the reasons I could never sell the greetings cards i make!)
Now I know this meme is doing the rounds, so I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you want to join in, consider yourself tagged!
Friday, 16 November 2007
1. Experience poetry - read poetry blogs, read poetry books, read poetry journals, go to poetry readings and listen to other poets, listen to poetry on CD or online. Read poets who immediately appeal to you and try some of those who don't. (In the UK, second hand bookshops are great places to find poetry books, you can try new poets for as little as £1 a book). Absorb poetry so that it is part of you!
2. Think about poetry - write mini reviews on your blog, discuss with other poets about the poetry you like and why, read poetry actively, thinking about what works for you and what doesn't.
3. Write poetry - you may not like what comes out of your pen at first but keep writing!
4. Write with feeling, genuine emotion is one of the most powerful elements of poetry. However, restrain your passion so that it drives your poetry rather than swamping it.
5. Be specific - the more specific the details you're writing about, the more vivid the poem is for the reader.
6. Pay attention to craft - if you're writing formal verse, study the form and use it well. If you're writing free verse, pay attention to how words sound together and the rhythm of language. Otherwise what you're writing is just prose chopped up into short lines.
7. Revise your work, once you've written it, put it away for at least a day and then look at it again with a fresh eye. It's amazing how much polishing you can do with a fresh eye!
8. Share your poetry - post poetry on your blog; go to a poetry writing workshop; go to an open mic poetry reading and read some of your poetry; find some poetry journals (either online or in print) that you like, read them carefully (subscribe to some print journals!) and send some of your poetry there.
9. Listen to people's opinions of your work, most bloggers in the online poetry communities are polite and won't really criticise work unless you ask for it. Editors are more likely to give criticism, but they mean it constructively, listening to experienced readers and writers can help you to improve your writing - and you are allowed to ignore them if you disagree with what they say!
10. Join in some of the poetry communities online - such as Totally Optional Prompts, Read Write Poem, One Deep Breath (for haiku).
1. Don't feel you need to follow poetical fashion, there are enough poets out there trying desperately to show that they can follow. Be your own poet.
2. Don't expect to make money out of poetry. Some print journals pay but none pay much. Most poetry books don't sell many copies. Most poetry competitions don't give big cash prizes.
3. Don't be obscure. You can't expect all your readers to understand all your poetry but avoid being overly clever or obscure just for the sake of it. (The internet is great, you can make links to eg species of bird unique to your area to help readers from another country)
4. Don't be lazy about language - avoid cliches, archaic language, vagueness.
I tag: Whirling Dervish or Deb at Stoney Moss, Melissa at Poet with a Day Job, Darlene at Daisies and Tiel at Knocking from Inside.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
The azure's smile has frozen
above the rocks and rocked hard.
The comparison 'like an eagle'
has lost all meaning.
She has the ability too to make political points through observations of the natural world:
And the sobbing throat of water
is stopped up with a lump of ice
And the birds shall return
and with their beaks shall melt the ice into song
(from Almost Prophecy)
So this is political poetry written under oppression, but the very fact of needing to be careful of official censorship has forced the writer to avoid being overtly political so the poetry is lyrical too.
Blaga Dimitrova (1922 - 2003) one of the most popular and loved writers in Bulgaria, was vice president of her country in the first democratic government after the fall of communism.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Seeing the Half Dome in Yosemite Park made the sore legs worthwhile
Chipmunks darted to my hands to eat the nuts we had brought to Muir Woods
Walking down hot hot sand to the joy of cold water at Lake Tahoe
Dusk, hummingbirds hovering on feeders in a suburban garden
Because I'm British, on my Alter Ego blog, My Sentences are Not American
American Sentences for Read Write Poem
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
When I select poetry to include on Bolts of Silk, I am drawn in by writers who can evoke the atmosphere of a specific place (though a sense of place isn't a prerequisite for poetry being selected!) Recent poems on Bolts of Silk inspired by place include:
Firewirks owre Bressa Soond by Christine De Luca
Fire Ranger by Bob Bradshaw
If I Were Young Again by Michael Lee Johnson
Place is often the starting point for my own poetry, especially the poetry I post on this blog. Place offers a wonderful starting point for exploring nature or history or emotion. I also think including the specific details of specific places in poetry adds immediacy. Some of my recently posted poems inspired most directly by place include:
Through an Open Window
Monday, 12 November 2007
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Friday, 9 November 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Watching the sunset over Lake Malawi
canoeing through the Okavango Delta
standing in front of Victoria Falls
red squirrels dancing towards us as we walk through pine woods
a fox stealing our sandwiches in the Royal Botanic Gardens
red legged choughs off sea cliffs in Wales
a humming bird hawkmoth on buddleia in Edinburgh
humming birds on feeders in California
a kingfisher flying across the red canal
the moon turning orange during lunar eclipse
an electric storm over the Mediterranean Sea
Unforgettable for Writers Island
Monday, 5 November 2007
Why not Join the Campaign?
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Saturday, 3 November 2007
The weather has been beautiful today, very mild for November and with perfect blue skies. We walked round Arthur's Seat - from the first photo, you'd not think you were in the middle of Scotland's capital city, would you? There were a few birds around including some very aerobatic crows. The trees are stunning at this time of year, especially when the light shines on the leaves.
Friday, 2 November 2007
on orange leaved rowan -
sun rises red
on red leaved rowan -
on yellow leaved rowan -
pink morning sky
Wild rowan has red berries, the trees around Edinburgh with their varied coloured berries must be ornamental varieties.
Money for Sunday Scribblings