Saturday, 5 December 2009

On winter

Three things!

(1) Remember back here I posted a summer poem. Well, here's its winter sibling.

Bleak and winter

Suddenly the trees have not so much to say
The sun just blinks, then folds again
There's barely a whimper of warmth for us
Huddled in our burrows for the hibernation season
Heads thick with germs, full-on snivelling

Then we hark at the calendars 'Xmas is coming!
The goose, where's that fowl?
We will eat till we burst!'
But even the feast has us cold these days
Nothing's right (the humbug) - no wood, fewer trees

And we don't even know why we want what we want
Our guiding lights now dim and dirty
Stars, twinkling smiles, any flash can switch us
As we hunger for warming, stirring, helping
We dream of together, because apart it's all gone

Though it pains us, the forced plastic party of Xmas
Its crumpled paper hat and its family affairs
Without it what's left - the bitter midwinter
The coughing, the quiet
Dark nights, darker days


(2) So it's winter...doing some Xmas shopping? Here are a few books (all by bloggers or friends/associates of bloggers) that I have read this year and that I would recommend as Xmas present possibilities. All these are available online so buy them and make a blogger smile. :)
That's the first smiley face I've ever typed by the way. You know I am more a kiss (x) person.

Anyway here are the books:

John Baker 'Winged with Death' (novel) Buy (read my review)

Anna Dickie 'Heart Notes' (poetry) Buy (read my review)

Tom Duddy 'The Small Hours' (poetry) Buy (read my review)

Liz Gallagher 'The Wrong Miracle' (poetry) Buy (read an interview)

McGuire 'Riddled with Errors' (poetry) Buy (I haven't written about this yet...but I's fantastic edgy writing...messy but alive...and for some reason I want to use the word 'spunky'...)

JoAnne McKay 'The Fat Plant' (poetry) Buy (read my review)

Hugh McMillan All his books (poetry) Go here and buy anything that's not nailed down

Nuala Ní Chonchúir 'Nude' (short stories) Buy (I haven't reviewed as such but these are the best short stories I've read in years)

Lemn Sissay 'Listener' (poetry) Buy (Again I haven't really reviewed this...but I do love it and I did mention it here)

Of course there's always my book too (hell, I'm so underground you can hardly see me).

And (3) I know what I want for Xmas...the Unthanks new CD! The band formerly known as Rachel Unthank and the Winterset are now the Unthanks (if you'd missed that memo) and here they are on Jools Holland's TV show (clog dancing and everything):

I love their sound so much...and I am kind of from their part of the maybe I do have a spiritual home* after all.


*It's been a bit of theme this year plus I was talking with McMillan about it over here.


Totalfeckineejit said...

Really liked that Winter poem ,Rachel, loved the last two lines and particularly...

'Our guiding lights now dim and dirty
Stars, twinkling smiles, any flash can switch us
As we hunger for warming, stirring, helping
We dream of together, because apart it's all gone'


And thanks for The Unthanks, refreshingly diffeent, I likes them and want to have the xylophone players job.The girl in bright blue has a beautiful voice.
Have you heard 'The Imagined Village' ?

Rachel Fenton said...

Cool link, cooler list, and even cooler poem - it could only be winter (um, except it's roasting here!)

I like the part TFE highlighted, too. Got me in my throat taht bit.

John Baker said...

Good poem, Rachel, thanks for that and for the mention of my book. What a wonderful idea to buy books by bloggers for Christmas. I'm changing direction immediately, no need to go out to the shops at all. I can now do all my Christmas shopping online.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks peeps. I forgot to say it's a new poem - only written this week.

Yes, TFE, I have heard the Imagined Village and they do feature lots of musicians/singers/performers that I like (Chris Wood, Benjamin Zephaniah). Can't say I love it all...I've never been a huge fan of anything that could be called fusion in music. I like the idea of it...just not always the results!

Thanks, Rachel. Getting you in the throat is great news. There are plenty of subtle poets...I'm more a jugular girl.

Thanks John. I do quite a lot of Xmas shopping online but I do try and do some in our (small) town here as well (or we'll end with no shops left here at all!). What I avoid (on the whole) are big shopping malls and city centres. Though I make an exception for places like Dundee's Borders (there's an online campaign to try and save it just now


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all this Rachel. Good poem, good choices of books, and as you know, I really like the Unthanks.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the book list Rachel - mnay well come in useful. Liked the poem but found it a bit sad - although even that is better than the schmaltzy stuff one gets at Christmas usually. Love the band - and the idea of clog dancing - thought that was a Lancashire thing.

Titus said...

I like the melancholy of this, particulaly the last three lines,

"Without it what's left - the bitter midwinter
The coughing, the quiet
Dark nights, darker days"

In fact, the more I'm reading it, the better it gets. And it was good to start with.

Excellent ideas for presents, and I shall be taking up a few recommendations there, so thanks for the links. And the link, of course!

Rachel Fox said...

Been at a Xmas afternoon today (quaker style but we went as moral support for my Mum really). Our Girl sang, Grandma read some CA Duffy (Mrs Scrooge) and I helped with the food and drink! I thought I'd let the others perform for a change.

I'm glad you're liking the poem. I didn't have it ready to read at the last folk club before Xmas. It was nearly ready but just not quite.



'barely a whimper of warmth' - love it!
Thanks for mentioning Nude. I'm honoured!
N x

hope said...

You managed to capture the "coldness" of winter without making me want to cry. :) I did sniffle a little, but that might just be my normal reaction to cold weather. ;)

Liz said...

Rachel, the opening lines did it for me...liked the image of the trees not having much to say and the sun blinking and folding...all strong feelings. Good one.

Thanks for the mention again... : ) (to accompany your first smiley...: ))

And yes, great Santa wish-list group, enjoyed...cheers.

Rachel Fox said...

Every body seems to like different bits of this poem which is encouraging in a way.

Oddly my favourite bit is the goose. I have never eaten goose (that I'm aware of) but it came in via the old line 'Xmas is coming and goose is getting fat...' There was originally a bit in here about 'Xmas is coming and the goose is getting...eaten.' Then there wasn't. But the goose remained.


Sorlil said...

They're very Kate Rusby eh? Think I'll get this for hubby's Christmas, thanks!

Rachel Fox said...

I know what you mean...but the Unthank albums are different to KR's - less trad more trad mixed with all sorts of weird and wonderful. Their last cd 'The Bairns' is brilliant too. It was up for the Mercury and should have won really...not that prizes mean that much really. Quality shines through in the end whatever. Usually.

shug said...

I like this- it's dark but strangely encouraging.

Hey why don't we do ask for Christmas poems and do an anthology to send to freens an kin? deadline Monday 14th. Might persuade Shug B to do a wee pamphlet. Yours is in already.

Rachel Fox said...

Good idea. We don't torture our friends and family nearly enough as it is.
But really it is a good idea. He makes lovely books your mate.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thx 4 the Unthx - just love them

Anonymous said...

You're right. Without Christmas this time of year would be bleak and unforgiving; or if you're in my neck of the woods - hot and dry and unforgiving.

You write such great poetry!

Rachel Fox said...

Something for everybody...

McGuire said...

I have JoAnnes book. Good work. I mean time will tell if she can keep telling, but it's good.

Spunky - messy and alive.

Spot on. It's shameless riddled with errors. My juvenalia. Happily surprised I got a mention rachel. Despite my uncomprimising slapdashery.

I'm off to read your reviews of the others. I've got a decent wee collection of minor press poets. We should keep up the good work.

Oddly, I was in His Mothers Vase, the other day, looking for Matt McGinn, and I noticed a band called Unthank (Surely from Gray's 'Larnark' the city of Unthank aka Glasgow aka Lanarkshire.)

Winter is here; I told my italian friend - winter is here, he said, have you been drinking colin? it's only autumn. Of course, right now in Italy, it's quite humid, so he thought I had gone drunk again, talking madness, but in reality, Scotland is quite the manly winter.

apprentice said...

A lovely poem Rachel. I too like the last two lines.

Maybe if we dropped Christmas we could go back to Samhain.

"after the sun had fled we danced -

afraid it might be dead"

Thanks for the book listing too, you are too kind.

And we'll be on our way back to the light any day now.

Rachel Fox said...

Now it feels like a Xmas party...hello all, have a drink, pull a cracker etc....

Rachel Fox said...

p.s. thanks for the link with the great photos, A.

swiss said...

well that's all just too much to think about!! lol

i'd like a listen to that unthanks album as well tho