Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Wordsworth and squirrels

Well, the comments still continue down at the Wordsworth on TV post. Some of them are very entertaining so be there or be square (now, there's an old saying...I thought it was apt though what with TV, square-eyes...you get the picture...). I just watched the third programme in the 'A poet's guide to Britain' series (about George Mackay Brown and 'Hamnavoe') and there was some lovely stuff in it including local interviews, gorgeous views of Orkney and plenty of time with poet Don Paterson (looking like he never, ever sleeps but saying some fine things and reading a poem of GMB's beautifully). Like the Plath programme I found this one more developed and interesting than the Wordsworth half-hour that opened the series and I am getting used (little by little) to presenter Owen Sheers' regular sparkly-eyed presence on-screen. I think the change I'm having to get used to is that he's just so pretty and neat for an arts documentary. I mean, have you seen some of the guys who present these things normally? We've been watching Waldmar Januszczak's series on the Baroque just recently and he's all excess stomach, ill-fitting clothing, crazy stabbing of air with big chubby hands. Sheers is so...well-behaved and clean-cut in comparison...and it is a visual medium after all (and it can't only be women who get judged by looks now can it...didn't we talk about that here?). In the meantime it might take some BBC4 viewers a while to adjust to this kind of change. Just give us time.





As for squirrels...the other day I was looking at some fascinating squirrel photos over at this blog (no really...I was!) and that led me to a blog all about squirrels (the internet...can you beat it for variety...isn't it like flying round a giant library on a jetpack...stopping to read now and again obviously...). Anyway, I've had a poem about red squirrels brewing since I saw one (a squirrel, not a poem) on the path just up the road from here and this week the poem made it out onto paper and screen. I sent the poem to the squirrels blog (where else would you send a squirrel poem?) so now you can read 'It might be about squirrels' here along with lots and lots of information about squirrels. The writer of this blog is in the US I'm pretty sure...but I've looked on the blog and can't see a more precise location.

17 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

Haven't seen this one yet but I did get round the the Plath one which I didn't find quite as 'Blue Peter' as the one on Wordsworth. It was interesting to see a different side to her poetry but I still can't get very worked up over nature poetry I'm afraid. I watched the Auden one yesterday too, well the first Auden one, and it wasn't bad. Amazingly they managed to find an actor who looked vaguely like him.

As for red squirrels - never seen one - but there are plenty of grey squirrels around here. I'm always seeing them scurrying around the fences in the back garden.

Rachel Fox said...

The Auden programmes are part of the poetry season (they're repeats aren't they...I taped them last time round and they're still upstairs in a pile of videos now forgotten) but they're not part of the Poet's Guide series I have been mentioning of late. Just for anyone outside UK who is wondering...

I missed the Stevie Smith and Larkin programmes (also repeats and also on as part of the season) because I didn't notice they were on until too late. Doh! I hope they show them again (again).

x

Poetikat said...

Rachel - Squirrelmama and I have been friends for quite some time.
Last May she walked us through the rescue of a wee one that was brutalized by a big fellow. We were on international phone lines in the evening trying to sort the poor little guy out.
Even before that, she gave me an honourary badge as intrepid squirrel reporter for the north.(I'm supposed to locate the white squirrels of Exeter, but have yet to fulfill my duties.)
She's on FB too (although, lately I'm not on that at all).
I read your squirrel poem on The Squirrel Journal yesterday. I was wondering how you wound up there.

I loved the poem. Mysterious.

Kat

Rachel Fox said...

I came to her via you Kat (via the Cloud Messenger...whose blog I really enjoy). I like it when blogs work like that...this leads to that leads to more leads to something else leads to hello new friend! It's like a pen pal frenzy...
x

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love the poem!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Weaver. I'll be a nature poet yet.
x

Sorlil said...

I loved the George Mackay Brown programme, I've only really recently got into his poems. I also thought Paterson's eyes looked like they were popping out of his head!

Dick said...

I really enjoyed the George Mackay Brown programme and doesn't Hamnavoe look stunning? But I just didn't get the constant references from Owen Sheers and Don Paterson to GMB's economy of language. For me, the best and worst of GMB's verse is in its florid imagery. Sometimes it's breathtakingly apt; at others it's a piss-take of Dylan Thomas.

squirrelmama said...

Rachel, right you are about my location on the other side of the Pond. Specifically I am in New York, in a county called Suffolk (which I believe was named for the "original" Suffolk over there in the UK). Kat is correct about our longtime friendship and the rescue of little Pip the squirrel (another subject for a blog post, which I will have to unearth and, if you like, send a link.) Kat and her husband were remarkably caring and devoted to the little guy and he owes them his life. He moved on to be with a rehabber I was able to locate for them right there in Canada.
I have great faith in you as an up-and-coming nature poet! And I thank you for your mention here!

Titus said...

Just watched it, enjoyed it and must say again I really like the hook - take one poem of place and work outwards. And I agree with your caveat Dick - particularly that choice word "florid".

And Owen vs. Waldemar? Waldemar every time I'm afraid.

I like the dying fall at the end of "It might be about squirrels". Plus a squirrel blog that references Norse mythology. Who, truly, would have thought it?

Rachel Fox said...

Hello all

We had a holiday in Orkney a few years back...stayed in a lonely caravan in a farmer's field at the edge of Stromness (high up - overlooking Hoy). It really is very beautiful (and quiet!) and Stromness is tiny. Watching the programme brought back happy memories of a strange but still enjoyable holiday ('Mummy, Daddy, what's that noise?' 'Hailstones on the caravan roof, baby, go back to sleep').

As for the poetry...I loved all the Paterson stuff on economy of language (because that's very much my philosophy...in poetry...though not blogging...especially this week...). As to whether it applies to GMB...well, Dick you and Paterson/Sheers can fight that one out! GMB is not a huge favourite with me (who does she like - you ask...) and again I watched partly to try and understand the appeal. It's partly that me and heavily descriptive poetry are not exactly the best of friends (though we are getting better acquainted). I know some of you will think 'what other kind of poetry is there?'...but there is heaps and heaps and heaps...and that is partly my problem with the heavily descriptive...it dominates and smothers anything else. Hence 'more about the song' really. But that's all just my own crap...

Anyway...I haven't even had breakfast, must leave this for now...but Titus, yes, the squirrels blog has much more in it than you might expect. All the best writers are full of surprises...


x

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for the visit...and the faith. I need it more than you will ever know...

xx

Crafty Green Poet said...

good to see your poem over on the suqirrel blog, which I visit from time to time....

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks CGP...it's a bit of a change for me...writing about nature (as opposed to human nature, or the human world, or the various different kinds of human suffering...). Or is it..?

The squirrels up the road from us live in the grounds of the local mental hospital (due to be closed down in the next couple of years). It's a lovely spot really (like a lot of the old hospitals). I hope the squirrels get to keep their habitat when the humans make their changes.

x

deemikay said...

Who do you like?!?! ;) But I take your point about descriptive verse. Some like it, some don't. In a way it seems a bit silly to describe something in words when you could a) take a photo or b) paint a picture. But poets are odd things, yeah?

I'm a big GMB fan... love his novels and stories as well. And his non-fiction. And there's a great bio of him by Maggie Fergusson. I might drag out my big book of George.

I've been wanting to get to Orkney for ages... but the idea of making it a pilgimage slightly puts me off.

Rachel Fox said...

I think the thing with descriptive verse is that I only like some of it (very fussy!) - sometimes only one line in a whole great long poem - whereas other people/poets do seem more accepting of heaps and heaps of it.

I would like to try GMB prose - what would you recommend first?

Orkney's lovely - great food!

x

deemikay said...

Well, all his books are about Orkney (throughout history).

The first I read was his first collection of short stories called A Calandar of Love. All completely perfect. And then I read his first novel Greenvoe (about the coming of some military/industrial establishment to a small Orcadian island). There's also Beside the Ocean of Time which is about a daydreaming boy...