Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Round and around and home we go


Busy week this week. Monday poems (tick), Martin Simpson at the folk club (tick) and still to go the National Poetry Day Plus One event (this Friday in Montrose) and then Sunday we set off south (to England...) for a week of family visiting and such like. Busy, busy, busy.

Martin Simpson at the folk club last night was, as last year, simply brilliant. I wrote about last year's performance here and he was every bit as good this time. He played a lot of tracks from his new cd 'True Stories' (not as immediate as his last one, 'Prodigal Son', but in its own way just as special) and he started his set with a song from the new album called 'Home Again' (about his home town of Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, England). I can't find that song online yet but his myspace page is here for information, tour dates and so on.

It was a great audience at the folk club last night and a top show of local floor spots in between Martin Simpson's two sets (there were acapella singers, guitars, a sitar...post and poem about our folk club back here, if you're interested). I read two poems – the tea one (from two posts ago) and a new one (that I'll post today). The new one is about my first home town (I've had quite a few). I felt a bit bad about the home town poem that I wrote for the Monday Poem a few weeks ago (here). I know a lot of you liked the poem but still...I felt that I owed it to some of my home towns to try and write some more positive poems on the subject too. So I started with my first home town...and this may turn into a series.

I was born just outside Darlington in county Durham (England) and I lived in or around that town until I was about 12 (when we moved miles and miles to...Middlesbrough...). Darlington is famous for being the site of the first public railway and you can read all about that here. It is my home town (in one sense) but it is not in many others – I didn't live there for long, I've never lived there as an adult, I don't have any family there and neither of my parents grew up there or anything. The poem covers all these things in a way...and it is a villanelle. I know not everyone likes them but I do...some of my best poems have been villanelles (see here). Anyway, here it is. I might record it later on for an audio version.


Rolling stock

People talk, people sing about homeward bound
Of the place where they stay, where they'd like to remain
But the wheels of our lives go round and around

Take a town, Darlington, once so key and renowned
As the place where they rolled out the age of the train
People talk, people sing about homeward bound

The tracks of our trains may now seem run aground
But in 1825 they were our future - plain
The industry wheels going round and around

Locomotives moved coal and then folk by the pound
All thanks to the whirring of George Stephenson's brain
People sing, people long to be homeward bound

But progress takes over the wheel, so we've found
From the foot to the cart, from the car to the plane
Faster and further, around and around

Still we look for a home and listen for its sound
Where will it be, do we know its refrain?
People talk, people sing about homeward bound
But the wheels of our lives they go round and around


RF 2009
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16 comments:

Red Bird said...

Oh, well done, Rachel- villanelles, when done well, are mighty poems indeed- and you've done well!
I particularly liked how everything came together at the end...
Sounds like a grand week ahead of you!
Have fun!
:)

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks RB. I have 6 villanelles to date...touching on such varied subjects as self-pity, listening to Radiohead, not having a book published, Scottish singer/songwriter Michael Marra, going out for pizza on LSD and now this one (about Darlington and home). The only ones that haven't been on the blog at some poing are the self-pity and the bookless. I might put them up while I'm away or something. It can be villanelle week!
I suppose one reason I like the form is that it is just a development from a song form really (and I know that technically you could say that about all poetry perhaps but in this case it is clearer). It's like the chorus eats into the song. I like that.
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Titus said...

Darlington - what an evocative place name! I like the repetition and it works well with the whole train wheels thing - in fact, the poem sounds good altogether.
Folk Club sounds so interesting, I can't believe you have such a good venue and bill in Montrose! Just goes to show what can be achieved if someone makes the effort.
I will try to ensure that one of your Friday performers does not get exhausted at tomorrow's poetry fiesta.

Rachel Fox said...

Darlington's been in the news today apparently...someone very rich bought the football team. The team's nickname is The Quakers because it is one of those places that was pretty much built and ruled by Quakers for a while (the Pease family in particular). As far as I know it was just a coincidence that my Dad ended up working up there (being of Quaker family himself). I do remember going to the meeting house there as a child sometimes. I remember a cream cracker eating competition at a xmas party!

As for the folk club...certainly it has been one of the things that has changed my life since we moved to Montrose. Lots of towns have a folk session (where people just turn up and play...there are lots of those in pubs around about here) but the folk club here is in quite a big venue and so can bring a lot of really good bands and artists in from elsewhere (as well as having a slot when locals can be part of it too). I just love it - it certainly gets me through the winter. It's great for reading poems too - pretty much an ideal environment (for me anyway).

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The Weaver of Grass said...

I hadn;t realised that you really lived so near to here Rachel. The station building at Darlington is a really interesting building - it played such a part in Railway history didn't it.
I like the way you have made railways and life both important. I almost think it would set to music.

BarbaraS said...

That's a great villanelle, Rach, good for you! I find they don't always work for me, but in this case it's great. Busy you, eh?

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Weaver. And we both know a man for that job (setting poems to music...).

I'm not sure my sources (ie my Mum) got the Darlo' football news right by the way. They were bought by a 'Teesside millionaire' a few months back - it's the manager who's brand new, I think, not the owner.

And Barbara...I'm not usually as busy as you but maybe this week I might manage it. Glad you like the poem. It read fine last night...you never really know till you get out there with them!

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Crafty Green Poet said...

vilanelles are tricky to do well which is I think why so many people don't like them. There's a real skill in using the repitition without it jarring. This is a really good villanelle because the repitition adds to the meaning and also flows well

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks CGP. Lovely of you to say so.
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hope said...

And yet once again I feel that connection of kinship with you from across the pond. :)

Even though American settlers "fled" England for religious freedom, they brought a lot of their "hometown" place names with them. Not only do we have a City of Darlington, we have a Darlington County. And yes, some of my paternal "originals" traveled from Charleston up to Darlington, then back to where they remained for the next 4 generations. In fact, family legend has it that the Darlington Courthouse in our state sits upon land donated by one of those very relatives...which explains how they went from having some wealth to next to nothing by my Grandfather's generation. :)

Sounds like you're having fun! Keep it up!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Hope, fascinating stuff! I wonder how you pronounce it...

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hope said...

Round here it sounds like a heavy girl: Darling + ton

;)

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey up! I like this... and trains are right up my track at the mo!

I have only tried to write one villenelle and it ended badly:(

Might give them another go now you've inspired me :)

Rachel Fox said...

You do have to really work at villanelles, I think. This one and I had a battle for a good few hours. To begin with it didn't go well and I even gave up on it, went to free verse and fiddled about with that for a little while. Then I came back to the villanelle and now I am now quite pleased that I did. There is a sense of achievement in having made it do what I want (even when I didn't know exactly what I wanted!)...eventually.

I know I write about songs and the whole business of singing a lot. This was meant to be about home and Darlington (not songs!) but in came the song references...and with them all kinds of thoughts about people and how they show their feelings about the very concept of home. It ended up being bigger than I expected in a way. All good.

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A Cuban In London said...

It is a rock'n'roll poem. I loved it from beginning to end. It makes you tap your feet in synch and wild abandon. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rachel Fox said...

Hey thanks, Cuban. A lovely response.
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