Keeping in touch, virtually: two publications from the time of distancing

Tears in the Fence

Untitled, 2020, (The London Magazine: edited by Matthew Scott and available from Lucy Binnersley at the magazine’s headquarters at 11 Queen’s Gate, London, SW7 5EL)

Quarantine, (Muscaliet Press: edited by Moyra Tourlamain and available on the Press’s website at https://www.muscaliet.co.uk/the-quarantine-notebooks/)

Dated June this year Matthew Scott’s Preface to The London Magazine’s powerful collection of writings arising out of the Covid-19 lock-down opens with a quotation from Samuel Beckett: ‘a mind like the one I always had, always on the alert against itself’. That use of the word ‘alert’ places the importance of what will follow in a very particular time-frame:

‘To be alert to complacencies of thought is surely a good thing but Beckett’s phrase also seems to imply a mind at work against its own well-being. In my case, that quality of the mind working against itself has been a mark of this difficult…

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Rockpools, what do you see? Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”. Today: Sunday. What can you see in a rockpool? How would you describe it? Rockpools what do you see?

Beadlet Amenome RachelRockpool Rachel

Images from Wki Commons

Beadlet Anemone

A sea does not journey without obstacle,
it divides and foams across stone,
a slave to tides, it swirls, waves
over the living and dead it carries –
all passengers, all hungry for something
as it gasps the friction of their stories
upon shingle or sand. Or here,
meeting land, it casts itself onto rocks,
blasts new water into the worlds
of the cut-off, the alienated,
those adapted to ravage:
beadlet anemones worn by pools
as if they were bloody wounds
that exposed their suffering, and toxic,
lashing out whips of survival
where life involves many forms of fighting.

Rachel Deering

rockpool

Rockpool image by Paul Brookes

Her Rockpool

eyes shiver as you approach,
careful her anenomes sting,

her hermit crab quick retreat,
here is movement in the sand.

-Paul Brookes

Beyond the breakers what do you see? Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Furst Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”. Today: Saturday: Seawatch. What can you see out at sea? How would you describe it? Beyond the breakers what do you see?

Saturday: Seawatch

Amartine waves 1Amartine waves 2Amartine waves 3

WP_20150512_294

Voyages With My Daughter

Voyage 1

The best sailors, Aurelia-Noa’s father
says as he unties a reluctant nappy,
are those whose days sway to the same rhythm
their nights undulate and those who startles
in sleep seeing lighthouses flashing out
a rocky cladach and those who may haven’t
seen any sea.
The best sailors, her father sports a watery eye,
are always ready with a sadness for the places
they will depart in the time to come. Land,
says Aurelia-Noa’s father, exists to make
the body of water interesting. Nighttime.
A noise makes them look at the window pane.
A seagull, blind, whooshes by, the streets
and lanes harbour the silhouettes. One
school of lights swim beside another’s shoal.
Everything smells brine. Puma, cooes Aurelia-Noa.
Her father nods, closes his eyes.

Voyage 2

One night of no sleep
Aurelia-Noa and her Puma
go on a voyage to save
one Dream whale
caught in between
two wolf shaped icebergs
melting and shapeshifting.

On their course they meet
a mute octopus
who writes whatever it wants
to say and it says, “…”.
They meet a swimming penguin.
Penguin tells them about the star
that follows her
from the northeast point of
northern hemisphere
and about the aurora borealis.

“Sing the song again.”, says
Aurelia-Noa when penguin finishes.
It hums, “kachingachingachingess.”
And Aurelia-Noa falls asleep
in her Puma’s arms.

.
Voyage 3

Little Aurelia-Noa will show you her cot
where hides a spider whose name is Loki
who sings in a low key and sings about meeting
his grandmother who lives in the sea and who is
the mute octopus they met in another tall tale –
the time they went to recover from blue
into the deepest part of the barrier reef,
oh what an adventure.
Never ever Aurelia-Noa will spill where
the u-boat carrying all the stolen arts is buried,
but it is somewhere in her crib.

Voyage 4

A hermit crab crawls
with its coke can home.

They witnessed a whale
in those wave,

then they also said
mermaids mislead Columbus.

I play hermit crab with my daughter,
say, “I am the crab. Your childhood
is my home for this tide.

-Kushal Poddar

Beyond the breakers

what can I see?

I see a little fishing boat
almost too distant for me.

I see enormous wind machines,
in rows and rows white and clean.

I see seabirds dive and fall,
hear the their of their lonely call.

Beyond the breakers
what do you see?

-Paul Brookes

Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek 25th July- 9th August, more like two weeks poetry and artwork challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. First Seven Days: Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems and artwork by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”

beach

Share what you love about the sea using #NationalMarineWeek poetry challenge I’d love to hear all about your favourite marine wildlife, the actions you take to help our sea life, and what the sea means to you. Saturday: Seawatch, Sunday: Rock-pools, Monday: Seabirds And Seals, Tuesday: The Strandline, Wednesday: Sand Dunes And Salt-Marshes, Thursday: Fish-Life, Friday: What Marine Life Does For Us. Please submit your poems by DM to me, or send a message via my WordPress “The Wombwell Rainbow” contact screen or my FB “Paul Brookes-Writer and Photographer”

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Billy Mills

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers three options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger, or an interview about their latest book, or a combination of these.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

The City Itself by Billy Mills

Billy Mills,

poet, editor, formerly literary journalist at guardian.co.uk

He was born Dublin in 1954. After some years spent in Spain and the UK, he currently lives in Limerick. He is co-editor (with Catherine Walsh) of hardpressed Poetry. His Lares/Manes: Collected Poems was published by Shearsman in 2009, and Imaginary Gardens and Loop Walks by hardPressed poetry in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Most recently, The City Itself was published by Hesterglock Press in 2017.

millsbiAToutlookDOTcom

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

‘Inspired’ is a very heavily freighted word to use when speaking about poetry, isn’t it? I was led to writing poetry by reading it. I was fascinated by the way the sound of language was as important as the sense I poems. From very early on I was less interested in ‘self-expression’ than in poetry as a means to explore what the world is. I don’t think I was ‘inspired’, I think I was (and am) just doing something quite natural

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I was a voracious reader from a very young age, reading everything from classic novels in children’s edition, very popular when I was young, to the backs of cereal packets when I was supposed to be eating breakfast. My father had a copy of Palgrave and a pocket edition of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat, both of which I read repeatedly, developing a fondness for 16th and 17th century lyrics and a distaste for the Romantics that have kind of stuck.
Then I discovered Bob Dylan and, via a school anthology called The Poet’s Tale, Eliot and Pound. These three, and the other songwriters and poets they led me too, were formative influences, I suppose. There was no one ‘formative’ influence; what I found, I found by myself, largely.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Most the poets I was reading were older, dead or alive, for a very long time. Really until my mid 20s, I suppose. I was absorbing everything I could read, especially early to mid 20th century Modernism, still am, really. But again, ‘dominating’ is a strong word. Enabling might be more apt. Take Lorine Niedecker, for instance. Reading her work opened up a whole new world, but dominating is not a word to use for her. She points towards a way to write ‘nature poetry’ without the old Romantic freight of the ego. There’s a couplet of hers that more or less sums up my idea of poetry, ‘the very veery/on the fence’; that is to say, the bird itself, not the birs standing for something else, the world, then thing in and of itself is, in my view, the proper aim of poetry. Lorine exemplifies this in her work.
Later on, Cid Corman was personally very kind and supportive. As was Brian Coffey, a great, still neglected Irish voice.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have one. Most of my writing is done in my head, and then I have a notebook on the go where I write when I’m ready. I read poets talking about a daily routine with a kind of awed amazement. Poetry is just part of life, for me, and it fits in where it can.

5. What motivates you to write?

The possibly foolish belief that I can write something better than I’ve managed so far. It’s a kind of itch, writing, and you just have to scratch it.

6. What is your work ethic?

Non-existent. Writing poetry is work in a very specific sense. You’re not paid for it and nobody’s standing over you waiting for you to finish. You do it because you want to, or not at all. Or at least, that’s my approach. So, a work ethic would be highly misplaced.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Largely by being the reason I write, and that I write the way I do.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are a lot. Bill Griffiths was a genuinely great poet, as was Tom Raworth. Susan Howe is, too. And then there are the ‘experimental’ Irish poets, Maurice Scully, Catherine Walsh others, whose work I read with admiration always. These are poets who have taken that Modernist tradition off in interesting, individual directions. Indeed, a lot of British and American poets of that generation, Let’s say LANGUAGE and the British Poetry Revival, are writers I admire a lot.
Since I started reviewing on my blog I’ve encountered a lot of work I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, much of it very good indeed. It would be invidious to name names for fear of omitting anyone.

9. Why do you write?

Because I must, not being smart. I don’t have any instrumental reason, I’m not trying to change the world or communicate any great message, but the process of writing is something I feel compelled to do. It’s a process of raising questions, not answers. Or, as I wrote elsewhere, ‘If the role of philosophy is to inspire action, the role of poetry is to be in the world.’

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Read, a lot, critically. Buy a notebook and pen, write.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I have a book more or less finished called a book of sounds, consisting of three inter-related pieces, ‘Four’, which was set to music by David Bremner a while back, ‘Uncertain Songs’ and ‘Away’. Parts of the first two are available online and the third is completely unpublished. I’m now working on what may become a longish thing, bit it’s just some stuff in a notebook so far.

All this week is #DragonflyWeek2020 . Have you written poems about dragonflies as these poets did for #NationalInsectWeek? Please submit via DM or my WordPress site “The Wombwell Rainbow”. Artworks welcome too.

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/06/23/national-insect-week-poetry-challenge-join-yvonne-marjot-ali-jones-anjum-wasir-dar-and-myself-monday-spiders-tuesday-wasps-and-beeswednesday-ants-thursday-beetles-friday-butterflies-satu/

Here are some resources you may find useful:

https://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

https://celticranch.com/blogs/celtic-culture/the-dragonfly-in-celtic-lore

https://www.thoughtco.com/myths-about-dragonflies-1968371

http://anniehorkan.com/legend-of-the-dragonfly/

Look forward to reading your work

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glassiness
of a dragonfly’s wings
things we forget

reflections
of Japanese maple
orange dragonfly

sun filtered through
a dragonfly’s wings
dog days

-images and poetry by Deborah P Kolodji

Misunderstood

Dragonfly
Misunderstood
The world over
Eye poker in England
Emulates øyenstikker in Norway
Take note: not the eyes
They seek to snatch
But flies that buzz and
Dance about

“Makes sense”

Sweden 1549
Was said trollslända
Used to conjure magic;
It’s true their shape is
Reminiscent of a witches wand

“Pencil Long”

Pencil long and thin as so
Different colours
Confuse and entice

-Lydia P Wist

cathedral glass
caught up in the light
of dragonfly wings

a placid lake
disturbed only by the flight
of a dragonfly

-Shane Pruett

Red Dragonfly by John Hawkhead

red dragonfly
twisting into darkness
the migraine’s tail

Previously in Time Haiku #haiku

-John Hawkhead

Dragonfly by John Hawkhead

slow bend in the stream
in the heron’s still eye
blue-green dragonflies

Published in Presence #33

=John Hawkhead

One Free Dragonfly

The jail break brings our old man back
to his dwelling,
quarantine room, grilled window pane full of lunar revolution.
The path from his fenestra to the myopic blur
runs straight and clear with a pond here, a tree there.

We wait for the cops to arrive. We snoke,
broach, babble, lose control over our fervor
about the old man and his ways. And one dragonfly
sits on the sill of our hearts. Evening is almost delivered.
The bright green of the fly’s back and translucency
of the pondhawk, or may be it is a darner,
trill what we see, what we perceive and then reject
as something we should not comprehend
as if the buzzing music arises from playing on
the strings of our consciousness.

Then it, although gone, explodes into a full moon.
The skirt of the village lifts up, shows other houses.
Some windows blink. Some remains ebony.
The pestilence breezes down the country’s intestine.

“I missed this.” The old man says. Perhaps
he means us or demising from a plague.
Perhaps he means the dragonfly the proverbs
spin as a symbol of security and abundance.

-Kushal Poddar

The Other Dragonfly

It tilts the pool world.
I hold the railing rusting away.

The place has
a throng of used needles.
Rubbers. Thin and ribbed.

I stare at the dragonfly.
Why am I here in the mass of nothings?
The dragonfly touches the feet once

Do not think about what it thinks about you.
Do not think about how it perceives you. I keep saying.
Dusk hovers over a distant turret.

I and the fly draw a border
between the day and day’s end.

-Kushal Poddar

Rachel deering dragonfly

Transformation

A dragonfly is born to swim
dreaming of flight, each motion
towards self-actualisation
unfolds its own ache
of transformation, each stage
a fight to see the world
in bright notes of new colour
and themselves – to be seen.
A dragonfly emerges,
harbours the magic of water
within, sheds the last skin
of fear and safety of obscurity
to reveal an inner light,
to blaze with realisation,
to be what it was meant to be.

-Rachel Deering

Linda Ludwig Dragonfly

-Linda Ludwig

Dragonfly by Christina Chin

frog pond
flitting dragonflies
cruise the summer breeze

-Christina Chin

rice grains heavy
against sky blue
red dragonflies

~ Christina Chin
Plum Tree Tavern October 20 2019
https://theplumtreetavern.blogspot.com/2019/10/lines_20.html?m=1

frog on lily pad
patiently waits
dragonfly

~ Christina Chin

ChristinaChin_purple dragonfly_Wombwell Rainbow

– Christina Chin

ChristinaChin_dragonfly on the water_Wombwell Rain

-Christina Chin

Bios and Links

-Rachel Deering

lives in Bath with a cat. She loves history, folklore, nature, science, art and literature. She has been published in a few journals and anthologies here and there. Her debut collection, ‘Crown of Eggshell’, was published in January, 2020 by Cerasus Poetry. Rachel contributes regularly to ABCTales writing under the name of onemorething.

New poem: Australian Poetry Anthology

Thom Sullivan

My poem ‘Buonanotte’ has been published in Australian Poetry Anthology, the annual anthology produced by Australia’s peak body for poets, Australian Poetry. The 2020 anthology (volume 8) was edited by Melinda Smith and Sara Saleh. It includes poems by Stuart Barnes, Anne Casey, Tricia Dearborn, Shastra Deo, Toby Fitch, Jane Gibian, Dominique Hecq, Paul Hetherington, Geoff Page, and fellow South Australian poets Jill Jones, Bronwyn Lovell, Rachael Mead, David Mortimer, Heather Taylor-Johnson, and Manal Younus.

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We Were Not There by Jordi Doce Translated by Lawrence Schimel (Shearsman Books)

Tears in the Fence

When Jordi Doce considered the poems of Charles Tomlinson for an Agenda InternationalIssue some twenty-five years ago he noted the voice behind the poems as being ‘wholly unique in its ambition’ before going on to say that the English poet’s ambition and ability was ‘to match and express preoccupations which have remained largely consistent through the years, always expanding and expounding themselves through the workings of an alert, intelligent mind.’ Let me be bold enough to say that similar words may be used about the Spanish poet who wrote that and suggest that his volume We Were Not There, published last year by Shearsman Books , plots an ambitious journey of discovery in which we are challenged to examine not only our changing world but also those senses ‘the air interrogated questioned by a blank page’ (‘Guest’).

The blank page offers an invitation to the writer to pursue…

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