Baked first came to fruition during an exercise from The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry. It is an attempt at heroic verse. The exercise itself was to try a short dramatic monologue, à la Browning, in which a young man in police custody, clearly stoned off his head, tries to explain away the half-ounce of cannabis found on his person. I started to play around with words within the five-stress line and found that I liked the challenge of rhyming each couplet. I obtained a rhyming dictionary that I have found useful within this assignment, and I have written a couple of poems experimenting with rhyme.
From the exercise on Images: something grasped in a hand inside a pocket, I already had the bones for the poem and felt encouraged to take it further. However, at times I’d get confused between beats and stresses and at the last minute thought about excluding it but my deadline was looming and I didn’t have time to write another poem. In order for me to further understand heroic verse, I have read some contemporary poets such as Seamus Heaney and David Rakoff who have used this form of poetry; I like the qualities that surround it and will keep practising its form.
Kitty was born from the exercise on Images: a wedding ring on an old finger. Immediately I thought about my late grandmother and the last time I saw her. From that image I was reminded of my childhood when I would spend holidays with my grandparents and my highlight of that experience would be dancing with her to the music of Glenn Miller. It’s something that has always stayed with me and on the rare occasion that I hear his music I am taken back to my childhood and the happy memories I have of my grandmother. She instilled in me a love of dancing and the 40’s era.
Initially I wanted to write a description of her within the poem including her Irish ancestry but it didn’t flow well. I started the poem:
I like cucumber but it doesn’t like me
you used to say as I looked in awe
at the salt mountain on the side of your plate
I continued describing her but it became a little clichéd:
the Irish lilt was always there
it matched the twinkle in your blue eyes
that sparkled to your size three feet
I felt that the poem worked better with a scene from my childhood as a tribute to her in death. The word yer in the last line of the poem I kept because it’s how she pronounced your in her Irish brogue.
Lost in Translation was inspired partly from the exercise on Impressions and experimenting with syllabic verse. When I first moved to New York City in 2001 the two words that completely stumped guys behind the deli counter was ‘butter’ and ‘water’. I’d have to repeat it a few times before I realised that it was better just to say: ‘buddah’ and ‘waddah’.
This was the inspiration for my poem. I liked the idea of a conversational piece within alternating 7 and 5 line syllabic verse. It’s easy to get carried away with syllables and I had to keep reigning in words to keep within form.
My tutor introduced me to the poet Wendy Cope. From reading her work on Poetry Archive and Poem Hunter and her book Serious Concerns, I was inspired to write Fenvy. It’s a poem about the niggles of Facebook, when people expose their whole life to others in a seemingly braggy way. One is left at times feeling rather envious.
Like much of Wendy’s poetry I wanted to write in the simple 4-line rhyme scheme of abcb. I found this a playful way of writing poetry and will continue with this rhyme scheme for future poems.
Anniversary was started and then discarded and I picked it up again when another poem I was writing on didn’t work out. Again, this was inspired by the exercise on Impressions. At first I was reticent on writing about my experience of 9/11 because it is such a big subject. However, because of my own first-hand experience of that dreadful day I thought it would be a good place to start. It didn’t go well.
I therefore decided to write about the first anniversary of 9/11. I remember it very well even to this day. The day was warm, the sky cloudless and blue but the wind was so strong. It seemed to come from nowhere. I remember thinking to myself the victims of 9/11 are really angry; they are making their presence felt.
I wanted this poem to be quite short but impact on the times that the planes went into the towers. I felt each time had to be on two separate lines to initiate the sound of a gong.
The source of my final poem, Mess is about my daughter’s bedroom, usually a bugbear of mine to the point where I seem to be constantly nagging her about cleaning her room. In the event of a school trip to Africa for ten days and her absence profound, I found myself writing a poem that reflects how much I miss her.
There are three stanzas to this poem and a final line. At first I omitted the final line but felt compelled to keep it on reading it aloud. It seemed to have more impact on how I wanted the poem to come across.