Notes on Poetry

Notes on Poetry

I’ve never been a poetry reader. I put this down to being dyslexic so poetry at high-school was beyond me. Now I think that this may have only been part of the problem, the other was being offered poetry by old white men that were (and still are) long dead.

A few years ago a friend and fellow artist, Caroline McQuarrie, mentioned attending a poetry reading by Hera Lindsay Bird and how amazing it was. Caroline said it was funny!?! So when an event came up at the Adam Gallery including Hera doing a reading I thought I would try it out. Hera was indeed laugh out loud funny. I found I could identify with the subjects and language that she used. I wondered if I should give poetry another look…

More recently when researching the work of Kate Newby, poetry came up again. For Kate the New York School of poets, particularly Frank O’Hara, have been a huge influence in her work.

Frank being another white guy (also dead) I decided to try Elizabeth Bishop (another of Kates recommendations), slightly older than the New York School poets and was living in Brazil during the 1950’s and 60’s when the New York group were operating.

Elizabeth’s poems are vivid descriptions of the world around her. They evoke love, loss and longing. In language I don’t have to look up in the dictionary.

Other poets I’ve read recently are Serie Barford, ‘Sleeping with Stones’. A group of poems written the year following the suicided of her partner in a far away land. Love, memory and grieving beautifully written in straight forward language. (you will be starting to see my preference here)

‘The Farewell Tourist’ by Alison Glenny, is a great depiction of love, longing, distance and absence. This sticks in my mind for it’s style, which I like – letters written backwards and forwards – footnotes of facts(?) and character experiences. What I wasn’t a fan of was the reliance of the time period, of exploration and ship journeys. And the stereo typical gendered roles of the man going out into the world to explore and the women waiting for him to return. I wonder what a present day version would be like, that’s maybe absent of gender… is that possible…

‘like love poems’ by Joanna Margaret Paul. Joanna is a master at describing her environment with emotion that you can feel. And in vivid colour! – I’m still reading this, I need to be the right frame of mind for it, otherwise it sometimes runs past me before I can catch it.

I would put Elizabeth Bishop and Joanna Margaret Paul in the same camp as masters of observation and description. Elizabeth with a little more ease and lightness in language style and Joanna in vivid colour – Joanna makes me want to paint her poems…

image above: an experiment in response to Joanna Margaret Paul’s work and poems – thinking through my garden log

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