Monday, 21 May 2012

Consider the Hairpin Turn

-You are Jeff, Richard Siken
 I don't read a lot of poetry.  I read some, but not a lot. I should probably read more. The stuff I do read is ususally thrown at me by Jen with a 'JO YOU HAVE TO READ THIS' and I do read it and usually I love it and think 'hmmm, I should read more of this,' but then I don't because I'm never quite sure I understand much about poetry other than that it's pretty. And maybe that's the problem; maybe I need to accept that I can love poetry just because it's pretty and I don't need to try and understand it on a more intellectual level because isn't that the point, really, to draw pleasure from the words you read?????

Anyway.

The point is that most of the poetry I read is recommended to me, but, I've stumbled across a collection all by my own self [proud Mama moment for you there, Campbell. ha.]
It's by Richard Siken, it's called Crush, it won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition and I am in serious serious book love, and not just because it's pretty.
It is pretty, so much so that it hurts, just there just right, but it's also just really incredible. I'm not going to try and give some kind of wonderfully eloquent review because like I said, I don't know much about poetry other than I like how it makes me feel. I just, I liked this book and it made me want to write that down, for posterity: in May 2012 Jo liked this book.

The foreword says that this is a book about panic. I'm not going to argue with that, after all, what do I know and to be honest I kind of understand the sentiment but, for me at least, it's more than that; it's a book about love, I think. Deep love, real love, painful love, unrequited love and requited love, love that hurts in the way that love does and it's beautiful and raw and it just gets under your skin and stays there. And it makes you think.It's the kind of book that just gets you, right in the chest, something that has happened to me before with prose but never I don't think, with poetry. The emotion in some of these poems is palpable and I kept going back, reading and re-reading, making notes of parts that I wanted to quote and then I got to the end and realised I might aswell just type out the whole book and so maybe just maybe I am a poetry girl after all.

This book gave me goosebumps, from the opening poem 'Scherazade' 
 ['...how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple to slice into pieces.']
through pieces like 'Saying Your Names' and 'Wishbone' and 'Boot Theory', and the 'Snow and Dirty Rain' and through the whole first stanza of 'A Primer for the Small Weird Loves'
['...you know how to ride a dirt bike, and you know how to do long division, and you know that a boy who likes boys is a dead boy, unless he keeps his mouth shut...']
it gave me goosebumps and it made me think and it made me feel and if you do nothing else this week, this month, this year then read this book, just, find a copy if only so you can read the wonderfully wonderful 'You are Jeff'  [see above] and then tell me it doesn't move you in a way you can't explain.


Do it, because you might never hear me talk about poetry this way again.

And that is all from me, for now. I leave you with this, from 'Wishbone' which is one of my favourites, I think.


You don’t, I say, you don’t owe me squat, let’s just get going, let’s just
               get gone, but he’s relentless,
keeps saying I owe you, says Your shoes are filling with your own
damn blood, you must want something, just tell me, and it’s yours.
               But I can’t look at him, can hardly speak,
I took the bullet for all the wrong reasons, I’d just as soon kill you myself, 
I say.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

We'll eat you up - we love you so!



I had no idea.

I was browsing Facebook this afternoon and spotted my pal Jen’s update, ‘but the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go”’ I recognised it immediately and quickly typed out a reply in the form of the next line of the story, smiled to myself and moved on. Jen text me a few moments later telling me of Sendak’s passing and wow, so sad. 83 is a ripe old age, of course it is, but it’s a pretty ineffective consolation, as I realised when I used it upon myself when my Grandpa died last month.  Sendak, no matter how old he was, will be very sorely missed. The thing we have to remember of course is that he left a legacy that, as long as there are children who love stories and grown-ups who love to read to them, will live on forever.

I don’t know many people who aren’t familiar with Sendak’s most famous work, ‘Where The Wild Things Are,’ and I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn by suggesting it’s a picture book favourite of most people, it is certainly one of mine and Twitter is alight today with people talking about Sendak and about Wild Things; about their memories of it; about their love for it; posting links to articles where Sendak has talked about his work and his inspirations  and you only have to read a few of these to see why he was considered one of the most important children’s writers of the 20th Century.

Where The Wild Things Are will surely be read at bedtimes across the globe tonight, as it should be.

RIP Maurice.