Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Lighthouse & Freakish Hermit Poetry by Rebecca Loudon

Tom Beckett: What do you want from writing? What do you hope for (expect?) from a poem?

Rebecca Loudon: A map is the most basic thing I want and need from my writing. A map from yesterday to today. A map from 1968 to next week. I want a north arrow, a legend, degree tick marks, time zones, a legend, latitude and longitude lines, mountains with ridges I can trace with my fingers, blue rivers, street names, oceans and springs, lakes, Arctic definitions and national parks, highways marked in red, historical monuments and wildlife preserves, capes and points and peninsulas, fjords and inlets, archipelagos and live volcanoes, and an impossibility of folding the map back to its original configuration. And that is what I want from each poem, each story, each letter, each blog post that I write. I want a map so I can find my way back.*

Last week, doing my morning round on Facebook, I happened upon an irresistible invitation from Madame Rebecca Loudon (see above) and promptly sent off an email with a list of words in the subject line. Realising I'd more-or-less prescribed a poem to the poet (yikes!), I quickly sent off another e- replacing my ramble with one word. Lighthouse. 

Madame guarantees a one-day turnaround and - never mind the fact there are oceans and continents between us - a week later her poetry postcard arrived in my mailbox. Handwritten mail is a rare thing these days and there's something unfailingly thrilling about receiving a handmade posted object (a lighthouse!) and, too, in seeing a web-friend's handwriting for the first time. Rebecca's Lighthouse, complete with poem, musical penmanship (she's a professional violinist and poet) and four US poet stamps is a thing of rare loveliness. To top it all, it was delivered to me on my birthday - how brilliantly synchronised was that?! 

You, too, can be on the receiving end of one of these! Visit Rebecca's blog www.callingdrbombay.blogspot.com and look for the donate button on the right hand side of the page. She will write on any topic for any amount. (Either private message Rebecca through Facebook or leave a comment on her blog where you and she can exchange email addresses.). Put in a request for a poetry postcard for yourself or ask for one as a gift for a friend - they make a brilliant, surprising and totally original present. 

To learn a little more about Rebecca, her writing process and her poems, click on the links below. 

Rebecca Loudon 

I especially love this excerpt from a 2009 interview with Tom Beckett - 

". . . Poems begin for me from practice. When I am practicing my violin, when I am practicing drawing, when I am practicing writing. I used to write every day in notebooks. Not just poems, but anything I thought of. Then I switched to my blog to continue my daily writing practice. I believe that the mastery of any art comes from mastery of practice. It’s kind of weird. I don’t think many poets think in terms of daily practice. Maybe it’s from spending a lifetime as a musician. But we have these muscles, not even muscles—tissue, tissue memory. Practice strengthens that tissue memory. When I practice Bach every day then it’s my tissue memory that can perform Bach, not my fingers, not my brain. My brain just gets in the way of things, slows me down. It’s the same with writing. I’ve learned to have a notebook by my side pretty much all the time to jot down ideas. This is practice. This and reading.

When I rehearse, I write during rehearsal breaks. Pages and pages of fast unreadable penmanship inside my cheap notebooks. Poetry begins for me while I am reading. I am an unstoppable reader. I find poetry everywhere. In novels in cookbooks in roadmaps in billboard advertisements in history books on the back of cereal boxes. I jot ideas and words and whole lines and possible titles in my notebook. I let these simmer and later on I use these to form poems or discover that I have been slowly writing poems all along. . . " 
Rebecca Loudon 


The interview I've quoted from here is without doubt one of two most eloquent, daring, transparent and brilliant interviews I've read in ages. The other is an interview with Melissa Green conducted by SusanT. Landry on her memoir site Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie. I guarantee you'll want to read each of these interviews several times over and, too, that you will want to go on to read Melissa's luminous memoir The Linen Way, published by Rosa Mira Books

The Linen Way cover


This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Kathleen Jones
(Kathleen, Orchid and I met in Dunedin a couple of months ago!) with Marco Polo

Please click on the quill!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | The Dress by Martha Morseth

                                        THE DRESS

                                        You hear the door slam
                                        her car grumble away
                                        know she’ll be gone long enough
                                        to search through the shelves
                                        the box should still be there
                                        she’d never throw it away.

                                        Each year she holds the dress against her body
                                        asks, ‘Wasn’t I beautiful?’
                                        You and Isobel will say, ‘You still are, Mum,’
                                        as you watch her place her hope back in the cupboard.

                                        When you were younger
                                        Isobel was the princess-bride because she’s older
                                        you, a lady in waiting wrapped in a paisley shawl.

                                        You put your school papers aside
                                        listen for sounds of the car
                                        footsteps on the porch
                                        the house cathedral still
                                        Isobel at school
                                        on your desk the Lady of Shalott essay lies finished.

                                        You open the cupboard door as though
                                        an ancient squeak would matter
                                        place the box on your bed
                                        take off your sweater
                                        your jeans
                                        hold the brocade and pearls to your chest
                                        slide the weight over your head
                                        entwine desiccated white roses through your hair
                                        stand in front of the mirror
                                        know you are that lady
                                        seeing shadows of the world.

                                        You place the box back deep on its shelf
                                        as careful as those other times
                                        read your essay again, know it’s good
                                        hear your mother screech open the door
                                        call to you
                                        ‘Jonah, I’m home.’

                                        Martha Morseth

A few words on The Dress from Martha: "Because inspiration comes hard these days, a friend occasionally sends me a word to ignite the muse. When she suggested 'dress', I thought first of types---romantic black, religious grey, etc---and ended up remembering my old wedding dress my daughters and their friends used for play. The material was a light-weight cream brocade which led me to imagine a richer and heavier fabric of pearls and lace of earlier times that characters like the Lady of Shalott may have worn. The rest, the setting and drama, developed from that image."

Martha has a way of approaching serious, uncomfortable subjects from a wholly original vantage point, combining clarity and insight with acerbic humour and compassion. She can be sharp-tongued without showing the faintest hint of malice or unkindness.   

Born in the United States, Martha immigrated to Dunedin in 1972. She taught high school English until 1999. Her poems and stories have been published in literary and popular magazines and anthologies.  Her first collection of poems, Staying Inside the Lines, was released in 2002. Together with four other poets - Kay Mackenzie-CookeJenny PowellSue Wootton and moi - Martha founded the Dunedin open mic series, Upfront, spotlighting women poets. Pearson has published three of her books for teenagers, two of which are short story collections - Yeah! and EDGE/a cut of unreal; and a book of one-act plays - Let’s Hear it for the Winner! Three of her one-act plays were produced for Otago University’s 2003 Gay Pride week, and a full-length play, The Trials and Tribulations of Emily, based on New Zealand’s first woman doctor, was produced in 2007. Two of her stories have been on Radio New Zealand. She has had poems published in anthologies, literary and popular journals including The Listener, Landfall, Sport, Takahe, JAAM, Poetry New Zealand, and in on-line journals as well as in her collection, Staying Inside the Lines (Inkweed 2002).

Trevor Reeves wrote of Martha's first collection Staying Inside the Lines --- "Martha is at her best when juxtaposing things with one another; events, tastes, activities, smells - a potpourri of words and images that are refreshing and delightful, yet bristling with the occasional menace. . . "

A selection of her poems and images can be found at http://www.otago.ac.nz/deepsouth/2007/index.html (University of Otago, Deep South literary journal) and additional biographical information can be found in the Writers Profiles of the NZ Society of Authors pages - www.authors.org.nz.  

(Thank you for The Dress, Martha.)

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Renee Liang
whose rich commentary accompanies the poem Where