Saturday, 16 April 2011
Guest Blog: Bill Kirton
Ok, it’s back to the poetry-fest.
For your delectation and delight I have a guest spot to offer you today from talented writer and all-round good-guy, Bill Kirton.
In case you don’t know Bill he blogs HERE.
Bill is arguably the cleverest man I know (apart from him, her, him, oh and quite possibly him). Anywho, he is well-endowed (steady Thea, Marley) with the gray matter. He writes short stories, crime novels, historical-thriller-romance novels, children’s books, educational texts and even a number of pieces of drama have flown fully formed from his brain-space. (Apologies if I’ve missed anything, Bill.)
His latest work is a giggle-fest comic crime caper set in Aberdeen called The Sparrow Conundrum. It truly is hilariously entertaining. Click HERE for more details.
He argues that he knows nothing about poetry and therefore, I thought, what better way to prove him wrong than to ask him to write a blog post for May Contain Nuts.
Over to BK…
Even though I’m not myself a poet, it’s the literary genre I most associate with many phases of my life. As an adolescent I poured the stuff out, imagining that comparing a girl-friend’s hair to ‘an autumn fall’ (yes, I was that bad) opened up chasms of love into which she couldn’t resist diving with me. (She resisted.) But since then, the words of others have caught my emotions and sensations in ways I could never dream of – Yeats with his ‘He wishes for the cloths of heaven’, Byron’s ‘Oh that the desert were my dwelling place, with one fair spirit for my minister’, and, as I staggered towards what I took to be sophistication, Marvell’s ‘Had we but world enough, and time …’ and Ted Hughes’ visceral, feral stuff. And many, many others.
But it’s not just the predictable love poetry (predictable in the sense that ‘love’ and ‘poetry’ belong together), it’s all those other wonderful word combinations and rhythms that say more things than their literal meanings seem to restrict them to. Before I retired, I was lucky enough to have a job which involved holding tutorials on French literature with young, intelligent, interested people. There were some who thought analyzing novels and poems ‘spoiled’ them, and I could appreciate why they said that. If you’re carried away by a story or by rhythms, you don’t want some boring old academic pointing out the thematic correspondences under the surface. On the other hand, realizing that these lines weren’t just pretty, one-dimensional facets of an idea but deliberately tangled truths that gave new, unsuspected life and sense to experience gave them resonances which made the initial response even more intense.
There’s a poem by Gerard de Nerval simply called ‘Je suis le ténébreux’, which has the same haunting effect on me every time it comes into my head that it had when I first read it as a student. It’s a classic example of how poetry tears through the normal fabric of perception to imply, even to touch, heights and depths of being and sensation which go unsuspected in our day to day living. The first line ‘Je suis le ténébreux, le Veuf, l’inconsolé’ sets the tone. It’s untranslatable but literally it says ‘I am the dark one, the widower, the one for whom there is no consolation’. I’m sorry, the English words don’t have the concision of the original, which then goes on to include medieval and mystical references – all musical and redolent of centuries of human passions, disappointments, regrets, extremes and mysteries which echo in the universe each of us carries.
I’d need this to be a few thousand words long to even try to do justice to the importance of poetry, but Michael’s no doubt already tapping his virtual watch and making wind-up gestures, so I’ll end with a little example which, coincidentally, was presented to me this weekend. I was visiting my daughter. Her husband’s an actor and had just come back from a tour to
. He’s curious about everything and, though he speaks no Japanese, he learned several phrases. He also learned this (which I’m spelling phonetically, so I hope Japanese speakers will forgive the crudity): Japan
Ta bi bi to to
Wagana Yo ba re n
Hatszu shi guri
I am a wanderer
So let that be my name
The first winter rains.
I have no idea what it means or signifies culturally, but those 14 words open huge perspectives, internal and external, and say as much as an entire 2000-word story. For me, more than anything else, poetry shows the commonality between me and others distant in time and/or space. François Villon wrote ‘Où sont les neiges d’antan’ (‘Where are the snows of yesteryear’) in the 15th century and it couldn’t be more modern.
Vive la poésie.