TiaTalk











{Sun 28 March 2010}   Warm Winter Poetry Reading
Warm Winter Poetry Reading

Given the sparseness of my snowy post and my subsequent apparent absence from the blogoverse, you’re forgiven for thinking that winter got the better of me and I didn’t make it through! There’ve been times, given the !*&#insert-curse-here*~&! weather in the UK over the past six months, that I didn’t think I would.

But, contrary to appearances, I have actually been around, lurking and learning and adding my two cents’ worth to a few other web projects. I’ve also been having some offline fun, such as the poetry evening we hosted at home on 30th January.

This event came together quickly due to last-minute cancellations for the scheduled reading of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. We didn’t have enough people to read the play, but we still wanted to do something Shakespearean. I asked each person to bring a favourite Shakespeare sonnet, with another poem, by any other poet, which addresses that sonnet’s themes. It worked brilliantly – the selections delighted us with their variety, yet there was a strong sense of unity because of the Shakespeare connection.

These are some of the poems that were paired:

Because there were only six of us, and because the readings were much shorter than when we read an entire play in an evening, not only could we have a sit-down dinner instead of a buffet, but there was also much more time for discussion and for diverging along delicious poetic and non-poetic tangents.

Speaking of delicious… I created a new soup for the dinner, which went down extremely well and had everyone demanding seconds. As I’m not the world’s best chef, this was something of a culinary miracle, so, for posterity, here’s the recipe:

Tia’s Green Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 large leek (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 whole broccoli (chopped)
1 whole cauliflower (chopped)
5 celery sticks including leaves (chopped)
6-8 peeled carrots (unless the peel is sweet, then use it)(chopped)
1 large pkt spinach
1 pkt “salad or stirfry” leaves
1 can green flageolet beans

4 tsp vegetable stock granules
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 bayleaf
sea salt (to taste)
olive oil
1.5 litres water

In a very large pot:

1. Fry leek and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes
2. Add broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots and stir-fry for a few minutes.
3. Add spinach, “salad or stirfry” leaves, vegetable stock granules, mixed herbs, bayleaf, sea salt and water and simmer for about twenty minutes. Add more water if the mixture doesn’t look right, or if you cook for a bit longer, but the goal is to keep the soup really thick, so don’t overdo it.
4. After twenty minutes, add the green flageolet beans with the liquid from the can and cook for another five minutes.
5. Remove the bayleaf and use a hand-blender to liquidize the soup to a thick, smooth consistency.

The result is an amazingly creamy, tasty, green soup. I finished preparing this two hours in advance and then reheated it to serve and it was great.



{Fri 23 March 2007}   Each mortal thing selves

What is it to be oneself? To which of the many values I hold should I be true? Every morning I wake with thoughts like these already challenging me. They sometimes nudge, sometimes scream. Which set of compromises will I engage in today? Are these compromises betrayals, or are they the appropriate negotiations of an adult and flexible mind?

The first stanza of this sonnet by Gerard Manley Hopkins has been playing over and over in my mind for days now. It contains the essence of the thing that I am crying out for: that I must “selve”, be congruent, be able to say “What I do is me”. But how? Kingfishers do it naturally, without thought, but that is not within the capacity of humans, it seems.

Unless they’re saved, of course. GMH’s resolution in the second stanza is that “the just man” is more than himself. When he is just, he expresses not only his own righteousness, but that of Christ, which is “more” than any other mortal being can do. The picture he conjures of the consequent elevation of man and the implied adoring gaze of God upon this composite expression of Christ is at once beautiful and alienating to me. I think GMH is saying that we find and express our true nature in Christ, and that it is as natural for us to do this as it is for kingfishers to catch fire and dragonflies to draw flame, but this does not answer my cry. If kingfisherness is enough for the kingfisher, why cannot Tia-ness be enough for me, and for any god who looks on me? The theological answer is original sin, of course. The kingfisher cannot sin, and is not born with the burden of the sins of previous generations. It is only we humans who are trapped like Sisyphus before we are conceived. As I think of this, I feel ill. I am actually nauseated by the injustice of this theology!

I also find the masculine language alienating – it’s all about a male Son relating to a male Father through men. And yes, I’m fully aware that “man” and “men” in this context probably are intended to be inclusive of all (saved) humanity, but the patriarchalism still narks me.

And yet, and yet, I still love this poem, all the way to the last full stop. Its internal logic and the pulse of its argument are compelling. I love the way most of the lines begin with a strong beat which drives its conviction home. And the transcendence it suggests is possible still speaks to my longing.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying, What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

(poem text copied from Poetry Connection)



{Thu 8 March 2007}   Examination Meditation
Well, I’m thinking of applying for this wonderful-sounding Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media.
I haven’t studied formally for so many years; I wonder how I’ll fit in to the whole uni thing again. Considering this makes me think of a poem I wrote in futile protest once when I really ought to have been doing something more strategic for my end-of-year exams:

Examination Meditation

The weight of that which must be learned
Forbids the enjoyment of a single word
Which probably, if dwelt upon
Would yield a richness like the one
That’s sought in all this wild attempt
To gather all things known or meant
In a holy list of date and time,
Falsely to cry “This knowledge is mine!”
For once the pen has hit the pad,
It really is so very sad
How quickly all the marshalled facts
Just fly the grey cells; turn their backs
And I, their erstwhile master, then
Become degreed, with no more ken!



{Thu 8 February 2007}   Eye Storm
Eye Storm

Autumn thickens till the hanging days
Are changing past my window like a scream.
This winter thought too early paralyses
My aching eye gazing green gold gone.
The glazed day whips into strangeness
And lunar laughter rises suddenly
As tears of light fade behind this skyline,
Mocking the blush on another hemisphere.

At last, rain churns across the glowing rim,
Tripping and falling on silver rooves,
Dappling darkness; moon blues under cloud.
Under cover of cloud, night writhes,
Pierced by a star, and dies, weeping,
Into grass new-strewn with beauty quivering.



{Tue 16 January 2007}   True Colours
True Colours

It startles me that you should be
So disappointed in my poem
That you’d even mail my home
To tell me that you don’t agree!

The kind of poetry I wrote
Is not the kind you’d like to see?
Oh fie! Oh my! Oh, dearie me!
A rising lump still gags my throat:

For failing you will make me blue,
Or green with envy; red with shame!
But soon I’m pale and wan again
—The proper shade for poets true.

Having no countenance but mine,
I can but try my lines to rhyme.



{Sun 26 November 2006}   On deciding not to marry a priest
On deciding not to marry a priest

Let us, as much as now within us lies,
Cherish these moments, and the memories
Of others such, not letting Cupid’s cease
Cry knell to friendship. Though he dearly dies,

Let’s celebrate with piercéd shining eyes
The new enlargement of those mysteries
Of discourse: soul’s and flesh’s discoveries,
Added as laurels to each other’s prize.

Then, let us coolly choose the sacrifice
Of valued passion for very valiant peace
That rules with justice o’er our yielded lease
And flattens mountains to make valleys rise.

That bonds, beyond the fail or flawed surprise
Of Nature, which forth from Father’s Spirit flies.



{Tue 14 November 2006}   Insect Insight
Insect Insight

Elusive truth, when platitudinous,
Unclouded, blinds us to its happy light;
Its brightness then too obvious for sight,
We miss it still and moan its loss to us.
Then miserable, we seek in darker paths
Transforming myst’ries of enlightenment:
Unravelling myths, by man and heaven sent,
We pursue insight through our deepest wraths.

Until one day (by chance, not skill),
While gazing in the looking glass,
We suddenly spy a dragonfly,
Beyond our shoulder, on the hill,
Which, as it flits from pool to grass,
Gives light intensely to the sky.



et cetera