Saying Muse by Jo Shapcott

This week, here is a poem called Muse by Jo Shapcott. Muse can mean more than one thing…

I enjoyed learning this poem with the lines running into each other and the sound of it. And especially the “punchline” at the end of the piece.

The music of this poem, the images are very specific and clear.

The muse, who is it in this poem? That is the question. The poem uses very specific images. It wants to break out of the typical muse relationship. The poem that follows the title is very different to the traditional idea of the Muse.

Poetry and Football

I tried recording this in the park, sitting on a bench, while my children were playing football. It was a beautiful day today. It was great to watch them kick the ball about. I tried to record the poem, sitting on the park bench, I just imagined it (as I often do with poetry) as if someone was just talking to you.

However, it was impossible. I was sitting too near a goal. I was also asked to be a ref, and an admiring public. I had brought books thinking I might be able to read some of them. Then we had to leave. I regret not having recorded it in the park. The sun through the leaves, the shouts of the children playing. So beautiful to hear all this life.

We finally got home late and with lots of things to do (one child had conveniently forgotten lots of homework so he could play more in the sun) I finally recorded the poem. I imagined of course how you might say this to someone. So I lay myself down. Plus I was “dog” tired…

Poems and Everyday Life

This is something that I like in this poem: it is down to earth. You have a feeling of clear eyed reality, with an eye for the specific detail. There is no Muse here. What is the Muse for a woman? A man as a Muse? Difficult.

The more I learn poems and say them the more I imagine how strange it is to say them. To ask someone for their attention. To hope that they can get the same reward from them. To discover the poem in real time.

I listened to  an interview with Jo Shapcott where she mentions Elizabeth Bishop leaving her unfinished poems stuck to the wall for ten years. Poems take time to write, to be born. They take time to learn and as you learn them they pass into you. I imagine not as much time to learn as they take to write. And they take time to understand as well. Imagine taking ten years to understand a poem. It is a short time actually.

I would say this poem on the metro, walking in the streets, in lifts, in stairwells. It is a little like the drawings I do on the metro. Sometimes I would look up and see all the people on their smartphones. I am sitting there with a scrap of paper. Sometimes I put the poems I am learning onto smartphones. That way I do not feel left out.

Poems working

The poem works its way into you. Any poem that you’re learning. Then it is there.

Muse

When I kiss you in all the folding places
of your body, you make that noise like a dog
dreaming, dreaming of the long run he makes
in answer to some jolt to his hormones,
running across landfills, running, running
by tips and shorelines from the scent of too much,
but still going with head up and snout
in the air because he loves it all
and has to get away. I have to kiss deeper
and more slowly – your neck, your inner arm,
the neat creases of your toes, the shadow
behind your knee, the white angles of your groin –
until you fall quiet because only then
can I get the damned words to come into my mouth.

Jo Shapcott

 

Saying This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin

Saying This Be The Verse this week. An easy poem to learn by Philip Larkin with a simple rhyming scheme offset by the message.

I have always seen this poem as a joke, very black, gallows humour. The poet tells you to “get out of life as early as you can”.

Growing up I heard this from my uncles and aunts at family get togethers chuckling over the opening lines. It was first published in the New Humanist in August 1971.

Now that I remember, it must have been funny to my aunts and uncles surrounded by nephews and nieces… Thinking about getting out… Thinking back on them at that time it reminds me of Larkin’s other great poem High Windows.

This Be The Verse is an incredibly popular poem and is so easy to remember that people can take the poem, learn it themselves and change the words.

It has the status of a poem like a nursery rhyme (albeit rather older kids…)

Having walked around the streets with this poem it is so easy to get inside of and yet like all simple things, it is only deceptively simple. The message in the poem is very deep.

Best Laid Plans, Yet Containing Synchronicity

I had intended to read this at an open microphone session where some of my friends would have been. But instead of an open microphone session there were some musicians. Their name made me chuckle : Père & Fils. They sang songs of rebellion.

So even there we would be fucked up… This is what Philip Larkin is getting at in the poem, that no matter how good we are and we try to be we are still going to fuck up our children.

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
By Philip Larkin.

 

 

 

Do You Remember?

doyourememberphotoDo you remember?

Do you spend time remembering? Or do you spend time dreaming about the future? In fear of the future and sad about your past? Or look to the future with happiness and remember the past fondly?

Little book of poetry

I picked up a little book of poems in a second hand store at the weekend. They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I fell for this book straight away. It has a pink cover, with a tissue satin like embossed cover and it would easily fit in your pocket.

The book contains poems of love. The poems date from 1360s in old French. Of course, love is actually quite a modern concept. And the French invented that, or at least contributed to the idea of gallant love. All the notions of chivalry and the troubadours that sang about it were first in France.

Some of the poems are very ribald. Which is also very amusing. Funny to see how people were so direct sometimes in their approaches together. Thinking of the changes that have occured in the way we live together, the way we desire one another. The summer suddenly upon us and everyone dressed in their best summer clothes… In France, in Paris we have been having a spectacularly bad spell of weather.

Birds singing thousands of years ago.

For a country that invented courtesy, it’s good to remember that France wasn’t even France before. It’s even hard to believe that the art of chivalry was born in France when you’ve had to contend with some of the French shopkeepers here…

I was sitting in the French countryside reading these poems, drinking red wine. There was at last a little bit of sunshine. It was a beautiful moment. Dinner was going to be ready soon. Couscous and merguez.

I always feel privilieged when reading old poems. Its like a ghost has come to you, they step up to you and you travel through time. You’re whisked away. Taken away from your concerns and you see that other times and places had other worries and concerns or even similar ones but with different forms.

It is magical, a voice, has sat, and waited for you inside a book. Your eyes scan the page and you can hear this voice. This voice inside your head.

The birds sang around me, much like they had hundreds and thousands of years ago.

Other news

Onze Onze black n white logo

We have just released, independently, the first EP by Onze Onze. In this group I take care of the lyrics and I play a little bit of trumpet. You can listen to the EP on the link above. When I listen to this music I hear my voice and the lyrics and I understand them differently with the passing of time.

Ghost words, future ghosts

Your words are ghosts of the way you were and sometimes they tell you the way you will be as well. The word takes you out of the now and through recording it, whether that be written down or recorded, the word becomes something else.

All I can do is collect words in my nets, and try to say them as honestly as possible.

Nets on the metro

I often write on the metro in Paris and it is like having antennas, listening to little bits of conversations. You have to try to listen to yourself as well. To hear what is coming. So, here with Onze Onze you have a collection of 5 tracks.

If you like Onze Onze, we are a totally independent organisation and we appreciate any help you can give us. That can mean listening and sharing, telling people about us. Giving us hugs. If you want to know more about the group here are lots of our links:

ONZE ONZE – 1st EP YELLOW OUT ON JUNE 23rd 2016
BANDCAMP : https://onzeonze.bandcamp.com
FACEBOOK : https://www.facebook.com/onzeonzemusic/
SOUNDCLOUD : https://soundcloud.com/11-11music-121438745
WEBSITE: https://onzeonzemusic.wordpress.com/

Zarboth back in the saddle.

http://zarboth.com/

That is it- these are our last two dates… for the summer! Here they are and please let people you know that are nearby…

1 July 2016 @ Festival La Ferme à Melrand, 56310 Melrand, France

2 July 2016 @ Chez Lulu, 2 rue du pont golhen, 56230 Larré, France

That will be it for the summer, but more news about Zarboth shortly!

Apart from that?

Playing trumpet in the sun. Playing trumpet as the boat sinks…

https://www.instagram.com/macdarasmith/

Have a great week!