Monday, February 24, 2014

Duffy and Deep Poetry


Despite having two people in this household that really do love each other, the only valentine card that was send and stands on the top of the cupboard is from Jakey – a dog that we sponsor through Dog’s Trust.  It’s a big pink card with “Love You” on the front and “Thank You For Being Mine” in the middle.  There is an apology somewhere in the letter Jakey wrote about us not being able to visit him as he is wary of people. 

The other cards didn’t get bought or send because being so busy in the days leading up to St Valentine’s day, we both agreed to postpone it until the Saturday. A posh meal out and some pampering was promised but never happened.

One of my poetry friends bought a poetry book by Carol Anne Duffy.  He reasoned that if she was the current poet laureate then she must be the best poet in the land.  He read us one of her poems – “Valentine” ending with his comment –“What was all that about?”  It had something to do with an onion that made you cry.  I googled a few web-pages, mainly the GCSE revision sites, that attempted to explain the imagery.  I wasn’t far off when I made the connection between onions and Shrek and layers.

I have to admit that I prefer Jakey’s sentiments on love to Carol Anne Duffy’s.  Although I write poetry, I am not a great reader of poetry.  I am very much like many people who don’t “get it”. I buy poetry books on occasion, not because I love poetry but more out of a sense of obligation.  If I want people to read my poetry, I feel duty bound to read poems other people write – but I don’t always enjoy it!  You see, when I write a poem I know what I want to say. When I read a poem someone else has written I can’t always work out what they want to say - like Carol Anne Duffy and her Valentine.

A week or two ago I bought a poetry book “The Heart’s Time” by Janet Morley.  I hadn’t actually intended to buy it.  The CLC Bookshop Facebook page listed resources for Lent and the book was among them.  Poetry and Lent seemed the perfect combination and I went to the shop to have a look at it.  They didn’t have the book but assumed that I wanted a copy and ordered one for me.  It turned out that I did want to have a copy after all. 

The poetry isn’t Janet’s but taken from all kinds of poets – including Carol Anne Duffy – my own comment after reading “Homesick” was “What WAS that all about?” It’s a book about Lent meditations linked to the poems, and Lent hasn’t started yet but I can’t leave a new book unread. 
Each meditation begins with a poem.  Janet Morley then draws out spiritual truths from the poem.  She also points out some of the symbolism and imagery that I would have missed.  I have a tendency to underline bits here and there.

I would like to think that I am now writing better poetry but that wouldn’t be true.  I am not hard-wired to be deep and symbolic.  I can’t write what I don’t really understand and have no desire to hide what I understand in images that confuse.  No onions and very few layers.

What it really boils down to is…I am not very clever so what I write isn’t really clever either.  But it works for me.

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