Thursday, 14 January 2010

A poem finds its feet

This post is something cheerful for January...a happy tale about another of my older poems and how it recently had a trip out (and even a moment or two in the sun).

Quite a few years ago now I started putting poems straight onto my website (well, I say "I"...obviously this is the royal "I"...i.e. me and the ever-faithful/marvellous tech support). I didn't put absolutely everything up on the site but I did put quite a lot of poems (about 200 at last count). I split them up into various different sections (by theme, loosely) so any casual passers-by could find their way around and not be put off by just a HUGE list of poem titles. The sections are: circle of life, distress and recovery, little poems, love, modern world, occasions, other people, Scottish interest, seeing and believing, songs and singing, wild years and writing (if you're interested).

The ones I put up are all still there though mostly they're poems I wrote between 1997 and about 2007. More recently I've just had other priorities (this blog, the book, the postcards) and so I haven't kept updating the site (if I had it would be more like 300 poems by now). I know putting poems up (for free) on a website isn't the way everyone would do it (I know, for sure, that it is not the proper poetry way to proceed) but it seemed like an obvious thing to do to me. After all I want people to find the poems...and when I say "people" I really do mean anybody (and the internet is about as accessible and anybodyable as it far). So I put the poems up there and then I got on with everything else (more writing, some promoting, more writing and so on). And there they sat – mooching, daydreaming, possibly even picking their noses (and by now you might be wondering where I'm going with this ramble...).

Well, one poem that is up on the site (and has been for a while) is a love poem called 'Don't squeeze my shoes' (stored in the 'love' section, suitably enough). Here it is:

Don't squeeze my shoes

A love, like shoes, must feel just right
Not too loose and not too tight
Not too high or far too low
And if you're young have room to grow
It must look good with any clothes
It must be kind, not pinch your toes
It must last well and not wear through
It must be just the thing for you
The style you choose, however strange
Must show ability to change
To cope with rains and frosty morns
To help you dodge bunions and corns
Your love must fit and not break banks
It must not always expect thanks
It should be happy being there
The chosen one, the happy pair

RF 2007

I wrote it a few years ago (and can't even remember now what prompted it really) but I do know I read it once at the folk club and then put it away because I figured I'd probably never be able to do much with it. For a start it rhymes in that straightforward bang-bang way that I like to play with now and again (and therefore it doesn't stand a chance in most poetry competitions, journals and so on). Also it is, I suppose, a bit sentimental (and heck, that's crime of the century in Poetry World...cause for angry cries of 'Hallmark' and so on...) but I have thought about this and, you know, I have written plenty of bleak, fragmented and hopeless poems too so I don't see why I have to be limited in this particular direction. Finding true love is a big deal and it really is something to be happy about (and indeed possibly even sentimental if the mood takes you). Plus I like bits of this poem (the 'however strange' is the key to it I wouldn't get that in a greetings card). Anyway, there it was on the site for a couple of years - feeling a bit unloved perhaps...and waiting...

...waiting for a person called Jennie, apparently. Jennie bought some of my postcards (and my book, I think) at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh some time ago. She liked them (hooray!), she bought more cards (double hooray!) and presumably at some point she went cruising around the website too (I've never met her so I'm just guessing). Then at the very end of 2009 Jennie got married (to Brandon) and guess which poem they chose to have read out at their wedding? That's shoes one! And just think how happy it was to be set free from cyberspace after all that time...and even better they carried on the theme and had a lovely photo taken of their shoes on the big day:

Thanks to their photographers Edinburgh-based Blue Sky Photography for the above (and there are other pics here for any photography/wedding junkies amongst you).

Now didn't I tell you it was a cheerful story? Thanks Jennie - for reading and for giving this poem a life of its own.

p.s. Anyone who knows which TV series I got the poem's title from...maybe I'll find you a prize. Don't worry though, reader - I promise not to marry you!



Niamh B said...

That is a darned gorgeous slushy one - perfect for such an occasion

Rachel Fox said...

It's funny because I know that a lot of the regular visitors here are people who have found their soul (or should that be sole...) mate. It is a wonderful thing.

And yet in my family I know very well the down side too (much widowhood in our older generations for a start). So I know it's good to celebrate the joy while it's there.


hope said...

How cool is that....and I love the shoe photo!

See, good things do see the light of day. ;)

Liz said...

Aw! Cool story and cool poem...pic of feet great too. Just real nice the way connections are made...hooray for poems that bide their time on websites...! : )

Titus said...

This is just a treasure of a post from beginning to end. Superb on all counts.

Jim Murdoch said...

You could live off of that boost for weeks. Always nice to get news like that. It makes that silence we spend most of our time in (waiting for replies to submissions) that bit more bearable.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks guys. And Jim, yes it makes some of the lonely, nobody loves me, going to the garden to eat worms days fly away in an instant! Well, for an instant...


Rachel Fenton said...

Wow, that's like a Cilla wedding!

Good on ya!

Rachel Fox said...

They're lovely photos too...and you know I'm not usually much of a wedding girl.

Rachel Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Fox said...

Oops - silly typo above.

For anyone who's interested I have now remembered why I started writing this poem (something on facebook reminded me). I do a lot of walking (what with the driving problems and all) and so I always need really good footwear and ideally shoes/boots that can be used for lots of different purposes (I need to walk a long way, I need to keep dry, but then I don't always want to look like I hike for a living...). Thinking about this one day I realised how like looking for true love this subject was! There are so many details that need to be right...


A Cuban In London said...

Well, what can I say? You know that I love your poetry and my review of your book will appear on my blog this coming Tuesday (Wednesday for you, since I usually post at the stroke of midnight). I hope you enjoy, I definitely had a ball writing it. :-)

Many thanks. Shoes, love, yes, they do go hand in hand together.

Greetings from London.

Michelle said...

How lovely!

Rachel Fox said...

Looking forward to your post, Cuban!

Glad you enjoyed the post, Michelle.


Titus said...

Nobody's guessed a TV series yet! I'm going "Only Fools and Horses" then. Must win by default (closest guess).

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you Titus...but no cigar. Let me tell you it's a (North) American TV show. And it's not a comedy.

Eryl said...

This is such a lovely story!

Is it Twin Peaks?

Hope you're well, X

Rachel Fox said...

More to the point, Eryl, hope YOU are well...or better anyway.

And makes a change on here to have a lovely story! Most out of character.


Dave King said...

Beautiful! Oh, I loved that. Well done, you. (Against all advice I continue to put my poems on my blog for free.)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Dave. We are the free poets...well, sometimes. If people want to give me money for a book I'll always take it!

Titus said...

Surely not The Sopranos?

Marion McCready said...

That's really amazing, Rachel! Hallmark your are not, you're doing what the high heidyins of poetry are struggling to do - making it relevant!

jennie said...

jennie here - owner of the shoes and fan of dont squueze my shoes poem. thankyou so much to rachel for letting me read out her words . i love sharing your poems with people i know - just sent out your happpy new hope cards to my friends at vogue, cosmo, instyle and marie claire and have had so many nice comments back about the uplifting message. look forward to coming to your next poetry reading.

Rachel Fox said...

No Titus - not my favourite show! And just realised I missed another Eryl, not Twin Peaks either. It's a bit of an obscure reference...just something Mark and I used to laugh about (and it was more a show that Mark liked...that's a bit of a clue...but only a bit).

Thanks Sorlil.

And Jennie...thanks for calling in. Writers' blogs can feature a fair amount of whingeing, moaning, misery, feeling sorry for ourselves etc. etc. It was nice to have a change!


Rachel Fox said...

p.s. well done for walking in those shoes. I wore heels once. It was not a successful occasion.

Ken Armstrong said...

I think the wonderful poem should be used at Loads of weddings. It's so right for the job. Kudos to you for writing it, and to Jennie for putting it to such good use.

The TV series is bugging me. I don't know the answer. I am drawn to the Sopranos, thinking of the great episode where Paulie lost his shoe and they squeezed ketchup out to eat it. All three words feature... but could it be that.

If you say no, I'll guess some more. :)

Rachel Fox said...

No, not Sopranos. Bit older show than that.

Kat Mortensen said...

It IS a wonderful poem for a wedding and I'm sure the audience thought so too.
I agree, "however strange" is not a Hallmark moment.
I found the not expecting thanks line to be something not in the mainstream either.