Ok, so it’s the third day of April, and this is my second post. Technically, I have failed the ’30 poems in 30 days’ challenge. Although that challenge doesn’t specify one a day, just thirty in thirty days, so I could still catch up.
Anyway, failing so early on kind of takes the pressure away, much like turning thirty and realising all the things you told yourself you were going to do before you hit that age aren’t going to happen. Or they still might, you just won’t have put an arbitrary time limit on achieving them. Anyway, point is, as I said on the Pen-ultimate site today (which also had a big gap in it yesterday), my reasons for taking up the challenge were to encourage a regular ‘fast and loose’ writing regime, not add another self-flagellation stick to my arsenal if I miss a day, which may well happen again considering the month I have ahead of me.
So, today’s, or rather yesterday’s poem, is one I started in a workshop I delivered recently for the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exercise, taken from fellow Pen-ultimate member Frisko (I think he adapted from someone else) is to to use the phrases ‘I was…’, ‘I am…’, ‘I will…’, ‘I can…’ at the beginning of each line of four four-line stanzas, and fill in the blanks. As the workshop was on heritage I tried to make it vaguely about that but I only got as far as ‘I will…’. As you can see, once you’ve filled in each line you can take out some of the line beginnings like I have to make it less repetitive. It’s interesting to try your own workshop exercises I’ve realised, I don’t particularly like this one actually! I think it leads to an overly affirmative voice of self realisation which can ring a bit hollow (if you’re a cynical so and so like me) and the structure of the exercise doesn’t allow for any turning point at the end. But I suppose you can always break the rules. But for now, this is the unfinished version. Will try and post today’s unfinished effort tomorrow, with tomorrow’s. Or something.
I was born from the chalk under green Chiltern hills,
Formed from the tip of the Pennine tail,
Then forged in the smoke of dark northern mills,
Brought forth from the borders of lands where words fail.
Only dimly aware of my family tree’s branches,
A stranger unknown to my ancestor’s shores.
I am sectioned into generational tranches,
Shut off from the roots of my blood by Death’s doors.
I will sounds into matter with mind-powered hands,
Trace my connections in looping black threads.
I will alter my accent when convention demands,
Sign my name on the land my experience treads.