Monday, 30 March 2009

Still on senses

Whilst we're talking and thinking about the senses...wouldn't you just know it...I have a poem about senses too (in fact I fear my catchphrase is fast becoming 'hey! I have a poem about that!'). Anyway, here's the poem:

Seeing isn't everything

I may not notice colours much
Or wallpaper (at all)
But I will hear every pin drop
Every baby sniff
Every change in the wind's direction
And I can hear quite clearly
The bloke three doors down
Who cries himself to sleep at night
Too often for my liking

The furniture may all be rearranged
And would I care?
Or care about caring?
But I can smell the difference
Between good and bad
Between a joke and something far more serious
I smell the changing face of sweetness
It's amazing
Try not to miss it

I may not be aware
Of changes in your hair
Or new jeans or a coat or earrings
But I taste most competently
The extra lemon juice
The way too much salt
I will notice and enjoy
The complete and fuller flavour
It takes some time

And though I try hard
To see better
To see colour and shape
All the time I am feeling
And knowing
And feeling it all instead
It's another way of seeing
A feeling type of seeing
A purely personal point of view

RF 2006

To be honest with you I sort of love this poem. In fact if I'm completely honest (and I do try to be, remember...) I love all my poems (which is very different to saying I think they're brilliant or anything - love is a complicated business...). Still...even saying I love them...that's a bit of a faux pas, isn't it? Whoever admits that? What kind of idiot! What vanity! What insanity! How absolutely not the way people speak in 'Poetry Review'! But luckily none of that stuff bothers me so I can just love them. And why? Because they have all done something for me in some way...made me laugh or made me realise something... some have even made me new friends. This one, for example, helped me understand how I work, think and see things (in every sense). It was also something like a letter to some of my more visually orientated friends who laugh at me (in a good-natured way...) for not noticing their new interior decorations and such. I wrote about having a relatively weak visual sense in connection with visual art too (back here) for anyone who wasn't reading back in September 08 (and who is interested) by the way.

'Seeing isn't everything' is about senses but of course it's about writing too (as are most things on some level...). As I entered Poetry World in the late 90s/early 00s I was soon aware that compared to a lot of poetry in literary magazines for example, my poems were not particularly huge on visual imagery and details. It was a bit weird to begin with and I did wonder if there was something really wrong with me! Then I wrote this poem and it all became clear (well, a bit clearer...). I do see...I just see through walls! Ah ha (as Alan Partridge might say)! It was like a light really did switch on somewhere in my head. Eureka...and all that.

Then, even better, the poem went on to do quite well for me. It is in my book and it's on the website in the section called 'Seeing and believing' but it was also published in the North-east Scotland literary magazine 'Pushing out the Boat' (issue 6). This was interesting because generally speaking literary magazines don't really get that excited about my poems! In fact often I can hear the editor thinking 'who is this moron?' from however many miles away they are...sometimes they even write me odd notes. But really who let the administrators take over the asylum? Oh, that's another whole post...maybe later in the week...maybe later in the year...



Marion McCready said...

Pushing out the boat looks like a fine magazine, got a leaflet for it at stanza. Despite my fondness for imagery in poetry I'm actually really bad at noticing the things that most poeple notice!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes it is a good magazine...though I haven't submitted this year and probably won't again. I didn't like the way their 'house style' made my poem look (I like a capital letter at the beginning of each line...whatever the grammar...just my preference). It's their prerogative to have a house style of course...and mine not to want to endure it again!

As for not noticing the things 'most people notice'...maybe that's the difference between poets and everyone else...we/they notice different things (and then record them in poems). Maybe...what do you think?


Rachel Fox said...

And still on senses...I just listened to the Brian Patten radio programme about Rosemary Tonks (part of the Lost Voices series). In it were these quotes...

from Rimbaud
"a poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless and systematized disorganisation of the senses"

from Tonks "the main job of the poet is to excite - to send the senses reeling"

and from Shapcott on Tonks "it's bold poetry - it makes mistakes but it doesn't care. It speaks loudly in your ear, it shouts, it sings, it's a huge opera singer in your living room."

The programme is on listen again for a week here. The whole series is interesting...and I love Patten's voice (and his smile on home page for the programme). I may have to write about him soon.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Actually Rachel, this poem is one of my favourites in your book because I am so similar - I can be in a room full of people and I don't notice what anyone is wearing - it seems so uninteresting when there are all kinds of other things to think about. It is much more interesting to watch mannerisms, social interaction - that kind of thing.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Weaver. I see we have more in common than just our favourite pets!

Ross Wilson said...

The first three lines of the third stanza! So it's not just a bloke-thing, eh? How often we get into trouble for not noticing the new dress etc!

I must say I relate to being a bit blind as well as far as noticing things (I could climb into the same car a hundred times and be stumped if you asked me the colour of it.) I'd probably remember something someone said in the car though, however trivial.

I hang out with more painters and photographers than poets, probably a good thing, as they see the world in a completely different way and open my eyes a bit to alternative ways of seeing and thinking about the world. Oh, and drive me around (safer with people who pay attention to the road at the wheel than a daydreamer.)Like in that Creeley poem, the darkness surrounding them, 'drive, he said, for christs sakes look where you're going!' But then poets shouldn't drive, I read somewhere. I remember reading Humboldt's Gift (based on the poet Delmore Shwartz.) Don't let Humboldt drive for Christ sake!

I can't even drive an email in a straight line. Where was I going again?

Ah, I know the feeling about publishing stuff as well Rachel, when magazines change stuff without asking, or make mistakes. Just as bad though, worse even, is when the mistakes are my own! Why did I do it that way? What was I thinking etc! Then, with a shake ih the heid, commence tae scorin oot n' addin in aw err again.

Nae doubt Rimbaud had the same problem, once the effects of the Absinthe wore off and he was faced with his illuminations in the dull light of a hangover, wondering how he could have pushed that drunken boat so far from shore.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Ross, I am a total bloke when it comes to clothes. I always tell Mark he doesn't know how lucky he spending ages waiting for me to get ready! I'm the same with hair - very no-frills! I always wish there were barber shops for chit chat, no style consulting...just cut it please!

I too have more artist friends than poet friends (or I did before blogging commenced). It's really interesting to see who notices what when you're out and about too. "Did you see that tree?" "What tree - I was thinking about a parallel universe and whether it would still have Richard Madeley..." etc.

As for the too with the useless driving. I mention it here now and again...not too much, don't like to be a pain. I did have a good driving period (between the ages of about 22 and 28) but it was only afterwards that I realised (a) I wasn't writing poetry then and (b) well...let's just say in other ways it was all a bit Rimbaud (with more than a hint of Pete Tong). I DJed in a club with him once too (PT not AR)...very uninspiring.


The Solitary Walker said...

Hey! That poem's good. Why shouldn't you love it?

The Solitary Walker said...

Read Rimbaud's 'Bateau Ivré' for a complete disorganization of the senses...

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you SW. Much appreciated.

Unknown said...

Nice to see you chipper again... I do like this poem, my bloke is definitely like this, but he doesn't miss the big stuff either :)

hope said...

I look at it this way [no pun intended]: we're more interested in the package than what it's wrapped in. :)

You should be proud of your work! They're like your children in a way. You brought them to life...why wouldn't you think they were great?

A girl barber. Sigh. :) We could make a lot of money my friend, if we opened up one of those non-gossipy, just please cut my hair and take my money places.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Hope and Barbara.

Yes - the no-frills hair salon...could be a world-wide chain! I'm sure there are lots of women who feel the same. Except maybe then the other hairdressers would have to try and put us out of business...and they have some mean tools (those sharp scissors, those huge hairdryers, those bitchy comments...). Is it worth the bother? I go about twice a year.


Jim Murdoch said...

Good poem. Of course I'd have left it after the second stanza but let's not go there, eh?

Rachel Fox said...


Rachel Fox said...

I have a poem called 'Let's not' too.

deemikay said...

Nothing wrong with loving what you write! I may try it sometime... :os

I once spent hours and hours going through old poems to take away unwanted capital letters that Word insisted on putting at the beginning of lines. :)

But a magazine should try and respect the poets layout. Imagine EE Cummings being "corrected"? (I think early editors did, actually.)

I notice things nobody cares about... even when they're pointed out. "Yeah, right David... too far!"

Rachel Fox said...

On the eec point - you might enjoy my (very long!) post about poetry rules. It's back at 5th July 2008 ('Write this way').Too early to do a link and dog needs walking!

green ink said...

I love it!

Especially the image of the bloke crying himself to sleep. Not that I'm a scavenger of misery, but the way you worded it cut at the heart a little, the way all good poems should.


Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Philippa. Much appreciated.

I read it at the folk club here last night...hadn't done so up till now. I recommended that everyone in the audience have a go at your five senses exercise too!

Roxana said...

I totally agree with this, I like my pictures even if I don't think they are good enough :-) but this is related to the pleasure we get when making something, be it a poem or a cup or an image, isn't it?
I love your poem too, this simple language of truth goes directly to my heart. and I think that this line: "I smell the changing face of sweetness" is one of those rare poetical instants in which something bigger than us writes 'through us' and the words become complete, full - perfect.

Rachel Fox said...

What a comment, Roxana, so beautiful. Thanks very much.

The 'simple language of truth' is probably exactly what I am about so if you can see that in this poem and like how I've done it then I am doing something right. It's not everyone's way of working or interest or taste but it is a big part of what I do and why I do it. Thanks again.


Kat Mortensen said...

I get that you "love your poems". They are like your children in a way, aren't they? Teaching you, testing you, teasing you. You sometimes favour one over the others, but you really DO love them all (even the early ones because they were what got you thinking in the first place and they make the later ones look so very good.)

I liked this poem too - especially the lemon bit.


Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Kat...if we don't love our can we expect anybody else to! That's not to say I don't have the huge days of total self-doubt too of course...

People talk about their writing being like children and how putting out a book is like having a child...I can't say I ever see it that way...but I know what you mean. The complicated love issue is similar for sure!


Kat Mortensen said...

Perhaps I say that because I've never had a child. I'll say then, they are more like my pets.


Rachel Fox said...

Probably a whole mixture of loves and other emotions!