Blog post – John Keats

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And pop! went the weaselly van

Hello, hello…it’s been a while, readers. My mind has not seen the light of day. I’ve been burying myself, albeit willingly, under a pile of books, music and other assorted bric-a-brac.

This is probably going to be another rambling post, but I’ll try not to make it so.

First up – seriously, 90 followers?! What the hell is this? I wasn’t expecting anyone to hang around this blog for so long! So, from me to my readers: Thank you for reading my poetry! It’s been a pleasure to meet and know other writers too – of astonishing calibre, mind you. I’ll have to put up something soon to thank all of you properly. Any suggestions?

Ulp, I’ve only been writing poetry for a month. Naturally enough, the mere mention of convoluted words like ‘iambic pentameter’ (“What is that???” My brain screamed as it encountered this word for the first time. It’s still shuddering as I write, I haven’t actually recovered) and ‘sestina’ (I thought this was a sensual Latino term, please do not laugh at me) were more than enough for me to break out into cold sweat. So I made a resolution to myself. I resolved to educate my ignorant self in the art of reading and writing poetry. I have to make another confession here: other than reading the works of other WordPress writers, I never actually read poetry, or deigned to see the works of other poets were up to till a month ago.

So I headed to the library, and promptly got myself lost in the literature section. Amidst rows and rows of books on Shakespeare, I found a mint-green Penguin book nestled comfortably between some musty, fat volumes. I slid the book out.

So, who would be the first poet to pop my poetry-reading cherry?

I scrutinize the spine. A thin, unassuming collection of poetry by John Keats. Ah.

For some reason the book feels good in my hands, and I check it out of the library.

John Keats was an English poet who was said to be one of the best poets in the Romantic movement, leaving behind a body of literary finesse on his assiduous appreciations of beauty and his beloved Fanny Browne. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 25 from tuberculosis. Lest you think him some flowery, bookish fop, he was definitely not inclined towards books as a young boy. His schoolmate Edward Holmes described his favourite pastime astutely. “…His penchant was for fighting. He would fight anyone.” This sounds amusingly like Tumblr meme material, but it’s worth noting that he only started writing poetry when he got older. So technically, he only had about a decade to get his shit together. Highly admirable.

His writing leaves me cold during the first few poems, but when I get to On a Dream his poetry opens my eyes for the first time. As stone-cold as I am in the appreciation poetic form, his choice of words reveal and yet conceal; he tells a story in the fewest of lines. The most tender love, coupled with the most terrible ennui and heartaches. Keats’s appreciation of beauty is finely-wrought gold; never overtly romantic to the point of tastelessness, but underscored by faerie luminescence. On a Dream was written about a dream he had after reading Dante’s Episode of Paolo And Francesca:

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,

When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon’d and slept,

So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright

So play’d, so charm’d, so conquer’d, so bereft

The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;

And seeing it asleep, so fled away,

Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,

Nor unto Tempe where Jove griev’d that day;

But to that second circle of sad Hell,

Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw

Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell

Their sorrows—pale were the sweet lips I saw,

Pale were the lips I kiss’d, and fair the form

I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

My favourite lines?  “So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright/ So play’d, so charm’d, so conquer’d, so bereft/ The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;” I’m still dazzled by the image of a Delphic reed. I’ve no idea what it is, but it sounds divine.

And then I thought of what I thought about while writing poetry. Why did I write poems? What did I look at them as? Part of me felt a teeny bit revolted at the idea of discussing the form of poetry since I am still an amateur, after all – I probably had no business trying to talk about something that I still didn’t know much about. But my fascination at trying to flesh out my reasons for writing seemed to be stronger than my revulsion, so here you go.

My initial idea of poetry was that it allowed for one to be perfectly succinct but yet flexible enough for expressing ideas, thoughts, emotion and beauty in a block of words. There’s so much to play around with. Indentation, punctuation, words – like actors, ready to take on whatever role the poet wants, all easily alterable by the change of a single, or different factors. Besides, I have not the stamina for writing a novel. I did think that poems were supposed to rhyme, so when I discovered the existence of free verse a part of me was delighted (“You mean they don’t need to?”)

The initial things that inspire me to write are…bits of something. A lovely quote by a favourite author, a strange fascination with an idea, a trembling weed…usually scribbled on the most horrible of Mondays, or a summery Wednesday.  Sometimes they come together in an occassional burst of brilliance, sometimes they fall apart..but I still try. Also, the shower is a really great area for inspiration.

So…how about my readers out there? What inspires you to write? What does poetry mean to you? Do you find inspiration in the weirdest places? Favourite authors or poets that I should read, or that anyone should read to nourish themselves?

*shoves sleeves up arms* Let’s chat in the comments!

Blog post – The Beautiful Ones

Good god, is this album really celebrating its 20th birthday this year?! Motorways whizzed by as I sunk into a deep reverie during ‘Picnic By The Motorway’, and my heart did a starjump at the opening riff of ‘Beautiful Ones’. It was a great escape for me, mentally speaking. One’s mind can only hold so much without tipping over into insanity. 

Suede is probably the only band that can sing about glorious, wasted outsider youths and depressed housewives without sounding like flogging the proverbial dead horse. And they also came up with the ultimate anthem for outsiders – Trash – before ‘outsiders’ became a fashion trend, and the ironic norm, in this day and age. I love the lyrics so, so much. I could rant about how amazing Brett Anderson’s lyrics are, but my brain isn’t functioning well enough to give a suitable explanation, and I might sound like I’m frothing at the mouth. I’ll just leave a video and the lyrics. 🌞 

Cheers,

Z.R

Maybe, maybe it’s the clothes we wear,

The tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair,

Maybe it’s our kookiness,

Or maybe, maybe it’s our nowhere towns,

Our nothing places and our cellophane sounds,

Maybe it’s our looseness,
But we’re trash, you and me,

We’re the litter on the breeze,

We’re the lovers on the streets,

Just trash, me and you,

It’s in everything we do,

It’s in everything we do…
Maybe, maybe it’s the things we say,

The words we’ve heard and the music we play,

Maybe it’s our cheapness,

Or maybe, maybe it’s the times we’ve had,

The lazy days and the crazes and the fads,

Maybe it’s our sweetness,
But we’re trash, you and me,

We’re the litter on the breeze,

We’re the lovers on the street,

Just trash, me and you,

It’s in everything we do,

It’s in everything we do…

Blog post: At The Crossroads

And after having written a little over 10 posts of flowery prose, has the proverbial well run dry yet?

A little, I think. I’m not sure if it’s self-consciousness that’s holding me back, or if it’s the other way round – being aware of where I am in my writing now, and constantly trying to improve. Writing differently. Shaping it up so that it becomes less ornate, and more precise – a balance between abstraction and directness. 

But what’s this? A new beast is in the room now! Apparently Wit is not happy that Beauty is getting all the attention, and wants some of that spotlight for itself. 

I shall try peppering my poetry with humour, and see how it goes. 

Also, Françoise Hardy, Suede and Strangelove have been great for making the juices flow. 

So readers, how was your week? Wrote anything awesome, saw anything nice, or experienced something out of this world? Any Suede fans out there, by the way? 

Signing off,

Z.R 

Hello, hello!

Okay…I’ve been posting quite a bit recently, and I’m still trying to get used to the odd bit of inspiration popping up at inconvenient times, and making that creativity flow naturally. It feels like someone triggering some gigantic neon EUREKA! sign in my brain without my permission. 

And I would like to say hello to my new readers and followers! *enthusiasticaly waves hand* It’s a first for me on the WordPress platform, getting amazingly warm responses to my writing, which has been very, very encouraging. 

I should add here that I’ve never actually exhibited my work to anyone, apart from myself, the odd teacher, a few close friends (and a cousin who managed to find my admittedly convoluted stories in my closet, read through them and exclaiming,”You could try being a writer!”) while I was still in school. My Maths teacher echoed the same sentiments to my mum after receiving my GCE O’ Level results.”You know, you should get her to use her language skills, it would be a waste.”

I started writing as a kid for kicks, when I realized that it was infinitely easier to create something uniquely mine that no one could blatantly copy. This gradually evolved into an activity largely for self-entertainment, which might also have included some self-amusement. There wasn’t much money lying around for those new-fangled handheld game consoles, and any board games were largely a left-hand-vs-right hand-or-random-stuffed-toy affair (one-and-only kids should know what I’m getting at!), so the best option was to meander around in my imagination like a luxuriously lazy cat, and hastily jot them down on paper. Fantasy stories, short stories, diaries, letters…I tried my hand at writing a fantasy novel but stopped after realizing how hopelessly inept I was at writing love scenes. (To my readers: How do you go about writing one without blushing and embarrassing yourself?) 

I stopped writing when I was studying in a polytechnic school, and it’s been an on-off affair ever since. I would start to write something, get frustrated while trying to work a plot out, and then subsequently get plagued by the nasty gnome of self-doubt (an infamous patron saint of Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky). I just shrugged, and stopped, thinking I probably had lost my touch. 

And then one fine day last month, my mum happens to pick a book up from one of those book-sharing shelves in the vicinity. “Look, it’s about astrology,” she titters, and I take it home to read. I get my natal chart online, and after countless Googling about planets, houses, aspects and chart patterns I am struck by its accuracy: an apparent super-secretive introvert who hides her work away from people’s prying eyes, because she doubts her capabilities.  

Three natal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury in Libra) in the 12th house, with Mercury conjunct Venus, Sun conjunct Venus…And Sun Rising. And a stellium of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn in the 3rd house. Pluto in Scorpio in the 1st house. Yikes. 

Then a small voice chirps in my head,”Look, it’s always been there, why not have a little more faith in yourself and try again, goddamnit?”

And so here I am, trying my damnedest to spin up ornate literary pictures, hoping that they are not beautiful just for the sake of aesthetics or empty poetry, and hoping that people will read them, savour their meanings and interpret them in vastly different ways, and hopefully learn something new in the process, or gain a new perspective…or…just appreciate beauty In its own merit. 

So…to my readers again: How did you get into writing? What makes your creative juices flow like the Amazon River? Do you write in a notebook, or do you jot them down in an app, like me…or do you have other methods? And are you into astrology? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!