Friday, November 25, 2011

The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

From The Poetry Society (UK) ...

Interesting that there is recognition of the importance of other art forms in this award.

Details of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry  (from The Poetry Society Website) ...

In 2010, for the second year, members of the Poetry Society and Poetry Book Society were invited to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry. The £5,000 prize is donated by Carol Ann Duffy, funded from the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen. The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in poetry, highlighting outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life.

“In order to thrive, poetry must always be open to the world it inhabits. This means that it’s vital for poets to engage with other art forms. A poet can learn as much about their craft from closely examining the work of other artists as they can from poetry itself.”
 Sarah Maguire, judge of The Ted Hughes Award 2011

Link ... The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

(The close date for recommendations for the next award is 6 Janurary 2012)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creating New Words

Creating new words or should I say crenewrds  ...

Joint words are often used in poems …blending two words together  … here is an example of joint-words used in the poetry of Ted Hughes…

Lines from River (1983) - August Evening (Ted Hughes)
And the river
cools early, star-touched. New moon,
not new leaf-curl tender, but crisp.
breathes on the sliding glass. The river
still beer-tinted from the barley disaster
is becoming wintry.

The linked word often qualifies …

Star-touched … the type of touch … we can see the river taking up the touch of star from the night sky

Leaf-curl tender an adjective defining the reflection of the moon using the image of new curled leaf

Beer-tinted … defines the colour of the tint (reflection) and links to barley (used for beer) ... a crop that perhaps could not be harvested

… why isn’t sliding glass joined?

But what about some new words … completely new words …

Lewis Caroll was famed for creating new words … combining words to give a double meaning from any implied hidden words … many of the nonsense variety …

Take his poem - The Hunting of the Snark …

Well you may well ask what a snark is … it is a barking snake animal that has immense pleasure at stealing the golden egg of the boojum bird … the Boojum bird is not all together pleased when this happens because it only lays one egg.

You may not know this bird … boojum is a combination of boo – to surprise and jump … which of course is what happens when you suddenly come across such a creature … one of the favourite occupations of the Boojum is to surprise the unsuspecting … originally an animal but over the years it has evolved to become a bird ... it made one unforgetable jump.

The snark was of course hunted for the golden egg … but the problem was … when that poor Baker man eventually found the snark … after that incredible sea journey to a far-flung land … the snark cleverly hatched  the golden egg and flew away as a boojum bird with the Baker firmly it it’s talons … never to be seen again … and when all the other B crew members came on the scene they found nothing … not even a few crumbs ... a very sad tale.

In another poem fuming and furious become frumious … what a wonderful word … for example, say that annoying person has just irritated you beyond the usual and you want to let off a little steam … you don’t know whether you are more fuming or more furious - whether you are fuming-furious or furious-fuming … but to give equal measure and to double-vent your feelings just retort that you are totally frumious!

I will now create a new word … crenewrd … (pronounced cre nude) … with defintion - a new word based on two or more esixting words.

… and here is a crenewrd based on slippery and sticky … if something is both slippery and sticky at the same time then of course it is totally …slikipity  … a blending of sounds that tend to get a little stuck in the mouth no matter how slick you are. 

... and every poewit should define at least one crenewrd. It is quite natural, inevitable … so don’t be shy … go on, have a try!

Footnote …

Some ‘real’ dictionary definitions (boojum and snark are actually in the dictionary).

Boojum …an imaginary dangerous animal … origin 1876 nonsense word coined by Lewis Caroll in the hunting of the snark

Snark … an imaginary animal (in connection with a task or referencing something that is elusive or impossible to achieve) origin … Lewis Caroll

Brunch … a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch … origin late 19th century blend

Motel … a roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists … origin 1920s blend of motor and hotel

Portmanteau word … a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others

Portmanteau … a large travelling bag … typically leather and opening into two equal parts … origin med 16th century from French porter= carry and manteau=mantle= a covering of a specified sort

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is Poetry?

What is poetry … an interesting question that many find hard to define … mainly because of the split between prose and poetry … and often what falls into the prose bucket and what falla into the poetry bucket is very much a product of a definition imposed by the questioner based on personal taste.

A few weeks ago I watched a young student trying to explain to a Korean visitor with limited language what was meant by ‘poetry’ … she started by explaining rhyme by giving examples of words that rhymed … of course we all know that rhyme is not necessarily needed for poetry … but I guess for many rhyme and poetry have a strong association … and as children we all probably can remember a few nursery rhymes … so perhaps this was an understandable start to an explanation  … poetry is something different to the ordinary use of language … something special … perhaps a good place to open any discussion

… of course the poet has a range of many ‘tools’ available for use in manipulating language besides rhyme 

… the following are chapter headings on the nature of poetry … taken from the excellent book – Literature (Structure, Sound and Sense)1 by Laurence Perrine …

... detonation and connotation … imagery … figurative language – metaphor, personification, metonymy … symbol and allegory … paradox, overstatement, understatement, irony … allusion, meaning and idea … tone … musical devices … rhythm and meter … pattern … sound and meaning

… and within the structure of the text there are many poetic forms that can be followed to classify specific forms of poetry … the sonnet for example must have 14 lines to be a sonnet … (or must it - one of Shakespeare’s sonnets does not meet this requirement)

… giving an example immediately aids explanation … these six lines from Tennyson are used in the above book to explain the nature of poetry and as a contrast between the ordinary and the special …

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls

… but when none of the tools are used in the word formation, when there is no conformance to poetic structure can any work produced be considered poetry … a topic for discussion

… in what circumstances could such work qualify … or what attributes are needed beyond technique and structure … and are these attributes equally or of more importance? ... what makes the description of the eagle above so special?

Poetry for Dummies2 … defines poetry as the practice of creating artworks by using the material  - words (language) … but can language be enhanced in other ways in combination and is this poetry … there are many examples of image and words as an ‘art-piece’ … public sculpture and monuments …

… perhaps not in the strict sense … are words and language the sole tools of poetry? … and mixing with other art-forms detracts? … another topic for discussion …

Yes? No? Don’t know? Depends? … and does it really matter … and if you don’t like one side of the coin perhaps the other will bring you joy!

 … an image could be an excellent entry context to the words … on the other hand the image could destroy the personal image that would have been created in the mind of the reader by the words alone

… but to start at the very beginning …

Pure Poetry

I am
in the beginning, of no beginning
the word

the word beyond a word
of everything, in everything
pure, untainted

Life, colour-painted
a metaphor for poetry
infinite in beauty,  majesty

perfect … without rhyme or reason
God and love combined
as gold without season

Richard Scutter

… and a bottom line … poetry - your special words … filtered from the mass of the common … so perhaps it is very much up to you what words you place in your bucket, your top draw ... or is it your EBook reader.

Footnote …

1Literature (Structure, Sound and Sense) by Laurence Perrine
Southern Methodist University – ISBN 0-15-551100-9

2Poetry for Dummies
The Poetry Center (San Francisco State University)
John Timpane with Maureen Watts

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The last Night that She Lived - Emily Dickinson

The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying – this to Us
Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things –
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
Italicized – as ‘twere.

As we went out and in
Between her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a Blame

That others could exist
While she must finish quite
A Jealousy for Her arose
So nearly infinite –

We waited while She passed –
It was a narrow time –
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot –
Then lightly as a Reed
Bend to the water, struggled scarce –
Consented, and was dead –

And We – We placed her Hair –
And drew the Head erect –
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate –

Emily Dickinson

Comments …

Life going on as normal or common in comparison … this one thing now stands out to make life different … pending death and the process of dying reaching a climax… something unfamiliar to the speaker

Implies a slowing down … and because of the intense focus there is now time to observe … little things unnoticed … the mind working hard illuminated by this energy … and at the same time caught noticing little insignificant things … (which of course may be remembered in association for many years) ... like words falling over (italics) ... seen differently

The in and out between the room of the dying … and the rooms of the living … the contrast with life and death … the blame that others will be living tomorrow brings such intense jealousy for death which is about to capture her … showing how much the person means to the living … or is needed by the living

A narrow time … total tunnel finish focus … no thoughts elsewhere …souls in turmoil … near death … the situation inhibiting conversation

Then the notice came (perhaps for those waiting outside) … the final moments and the last light (scarce) struggle with something wanted to be said and then left … and the inevitable consent

The physical things that needed to be done … and then time broadens into awful leisure in which the living must rely on their belief (religion) to regulate their loss

A moving poem perhaps written from personal experience from one close to her.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Have a Nice Day

Have a nice-day

Coming in at number 58
there were a few ‘have a nice-days’
ahead of me so I had ample time
to watch number 55 ‘have a nice-day’
but a shame she didn’t award him
a prize for bag fumbling.

Good, number 56 is ready for a
quick getaway, her purse undone.
How can she survive on a couple of pieces
of heart-lean lamb and a few carefully
chosen vegetables. Not to worry - I’m sure
in the end she will ‘have a nice-day’.

Number 57 has been so irritating
not so much her, but her kid. I don’t mind
obese people filling up the aisles before
filling their trolleys but their little doughnuts
should be controlled. Anyway she is about to
‘have a nice-day’.

(She should have said -
‘did you know your kid just picked his nose
in preference to chocolate’)

‘And how are you today Sir?’
Well, I had to say in no uncertain terms
that I was having a really ‘nice-day’, in fact
one of the nicest on record, while of course
waiting for her parting benediction …
… ‘have a fantastic-day’.

Nice-one, nice-one - a girl with
imagination! I can go home now
having achieved something, and
what can I say -  well, if you’re not
having a ‘nice-day’ have a  fantastic-day!’

Have a nice-day!

Richard Scutter 13 May 2011