Poetry

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Please help yourself to the definition, and get mired in philosophy and religion, from the making of a person to creation itself

Disclaimer: I don’t read poetry often, nor do I show my poems to many. I write because I cannot help myself… literally… Many’s the times I almost caused an accident because I was trying to ignore a particular turn of phrase or the numbering of a faiku (that’s like a haiku that has the proper numbering and maybe the link to nature, but does not respect the form or spirit so it’s not real… therefore it’s fake: faiku). Does that even make sense or shall I blame artistic temperament?

It used to seem strange to me that after an education full of poets, their miserable lives, their usually painful deaths and their tortuous paths of creation, I could still (still!) consider writing the dratted things! Nothing to explain, people, you can’t have glory nor money nor most of the time recognition, provided one looks for the above. You get heartache and sleepless nights and odd measures of joy when it sounds just so and tells what you require it to say, which makes sense to almost no one else.

Sour grapes? Possibly you’d think that I would have more to show after 30 years of writing poetry than a few typed pages which would absolutely and rightly so be demolished by anyone with a bit of knowledge. Haven’t you been told that if you work hard and apply yourself and all the rest of the virtues then something good will happen? Yeah, right! Dream on, buster!

And the problem is that criticism of poetry can only break the heart. It can’t change the poems though… they always, always sound weird and wrong after editing, they are not yours anymore… so the only thing you get is that your best is not good enough… did I mention heartbreak? And you can’t stop writing… so you learn to hide, and you surround yourself with people who don’t read poetry, and you lie that you’re over it and if by chance you are discovered you say that you are just fooling around… And from time to time, rarely (heartbreak is awful!) you open a book of your favourite poet and you get lost for a minute or so in a world where poetry makes sense, it’s there for others to enjoy and consider and feel… If you are brave enough (not always) you gift a book of poems to someone special, knowing (heartbreak!) that it will most probably stay in their bookcase for years without being read, and the red-hot passion of Neruda, the rueful wit of Basho, the deep gentleness of Tagore are lost again.

There is something terrible about lost words… why can’t hearts be led to the words that describe them?

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More minute

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It doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

I have thought… you might be forgiven for asking if I ever even do anything else 🙂

The answer is yes, plenty, thank you very much 🙂

But nevertheless I have thought of even more minute stuff that shapes my life, whether by giving me that little burst of joy or, on the other side of the coin, annoyance 🙂

For example, knowing a secret that is currently enriching someone else’s life.

Planning an overnight trip to a museum so that the little one could see dinosaurs.

An unexpected change of plan that makes me wonder about what could possibly go on in that person’s mind.

Sitting down to an inocuous discussion which allows me unfettered access into a difficult brain with a matching personality.

News about a friend’s good luck that will also make our lives easier and better.

Reading rubbish which nonetheless makes you aware of certain facts, which then in turn pleasantly surprise a friend.

An inefficiently arranged house which then gets dirty.

Accepting that my feelings aren’t mirrored.

Writing poetry, especially after a long break.

Wondering about the name of a plant, only to have a colleague mentioning it in a completely unrelated context.

Discussing choice, predestination, permaculture and why we usually do not eat felines during the same walk.

Seeing feijoas planted on public domain.

Stepping barefoot onto the soft remains of flowers that appear red from a distance but are actually pink on a closer look.

Lacking motivation to do anything of what needs to be done.

Receiving a certificate – now needing a frame to match the favourite colours of the people who helped me achieve it.

Planting a flower, then figuring out that I actually needed another one but realizing that the two will actually go well together anyway.

More positives than not I notice… 🙂

Language, revisited

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I was reminded by my friend about language. Native language, to be precise.

You see, there was a party today. An immigrant party at the end, an island in time with yummy food and drink and teasing and joking and merry-making. Then there was the catch up about people and relationships and illnesses and deaths and other serious stuff. Then there was the bad music that you can dance on all day and night if you have to, just because you need it after the heavy stuff before. All the above required specific words that would have been difficult to find in normal life, when some of us don’t use our native language every day.

And so we talked. And gesticulated. And exclaimed in ways that made sense in the context but translate very badly. Some don’t translate at all except in metaphor. Sometimes when I talk to people back home it is difficult to translate as well because some of the experiences I’ve had have been here only, and I wouldn’t have used the words there so the translation is choppy and rough and the words don’t flow smoothly in either language.

But my friend recognized that native language has that ease about it, the lack of formality that even swearing doesn’t obtain in a foreign language, no matter how well you speak it. I find I use swearing in English just as I would recite poetry, appropriately, but with the usual coda that it doesn’t quite fit. You know, like reciting poetry in the supermarket doesn’t fit, even if you’re saying it beautifully. Perhaps because you say it beautifully.

I could have had the same conversation in English today. I dream in English and have done so for years, it’s the first language in every day life as my husband and child don’t speak my native language. I write poetry in English although I have despaired of ever rhyming in it. I read more in English and most of the music I listen to is in English as well, if said music has words. But even if talk about insurance and mortgage and work is easier in English my native language remains the one I am most happy to joke in, to express feelings, to say names, yes and no.

It is even funny when it comes to plants. I would know or read the name of a plant in my language. I would then have to research (internet or books, it matters not) the Latin name for it, then go and find it in English. It works the same way vice-versa. Wikipedia is good at this because it sometimes has both languages. And then I would be able to compare the sources, another quirk of mine 🙂

My little one has asked to learn my native language. She already knows some words but not at the putting-into-sentences level, so she doesn’t use them unless encouraged. But we have decided we’ll try. So now I have to find a way. She is not a baby who will absorb whatever it is that her mother says. I will have to teach my child my native language as if it were a foreign one.

How in the world would that work?