Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Goosebump Test*

I am reading Seamus Heaney's Finders Keepers and it is lovely so this means that I dip into it one essay at a time, sometimes less, take a break to breathe and/or make notes (Tessa in Magic Flutes: 'Breathe!" said Tessa, shocked. "I don't need to breathe when I am with you!"**).

Today's reading is an essay called 'Learning from Eliot'. Now, Eliot is an influence impossible to elude in one's early poetry writing. But before writing, there was reading and - because Donne and Dante weren't our modern poets, though they were his - impossible to measure the impact his poetry had on all of us late-teens.

Heaney was prescribed 'The Hollow Men' and 'Journey of the Magi' for his A levels and, as with all students of poetry at that age, the study of Eliot was a wildly different thing from the experience of Eliot. (Just as an aside: we also had 'Magi' but we had 'Preludes' instead of 'The Hollow Men', arguably 'easier' from an exam point of view).

Upon his first encounter with 'The Hollow Men', Heaney describes his reactions thus: "What happened within my reader's skin was the equivalent of what happens in an otherwise warm and well-wrapped body once a cold wind gets at its ankles."There's a lot more that's quotable and you should just go read Heaney.

But the bellwether body as a tool of experiencing poetry is an idea that I am totally on board with. Someone should theorise it and I can habeas my corpus as evidence any time someone reads a certain kind of poetry that is my own particular, antique flute.

I mean, long before it is time to extract what Heaney calls 'the pacifier of a paraphraseable meaning', it is the body that experiences poetry, or the poetry in writing. I call this the Goosebump Test and it has nothing to do with R.L.Stine, I assure you.

Symptoms may vary, but anything that induces chills, fevers, hair standing on end, unspecified liquefactions, the inability to stay still and the illogical desire to embrace the entire world or hurl objects at people or things in order to discharge some excess - all of this and more, I include in the Goosebump Test.

(Needless to say, it is applied when you or someone else asks the question, "Yes, but is it poetry?" Caveats include the acknowledgement that not all poetry can be detected by the application of this test.)

Anyway. Back to Heaney, to whom I also owe my Word of the Day: 'simony'.


*Variations that include the words 'pimple' or 'flesh' just don't work. The first makes me giggle, and second - though sumptuous - is a little too avid for accuracy.

**Ok, fine. So I've been re-reading Eva Ibbotson and can quote without referring to the book. Is that a problem?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

EA back on the Aleph site

Sorry about pulling the previous post. I changed my mind about having temporary moods out forever online.

In other news, as promised, Aleph has sorted out their web issues and Escape Artist is back up on the site.

To all those whose comments I haven't responded to, I'm a terrible person these days and thanks for the congratulations and for bothering to go through two layers of verification for a wall of silence.

Okay. Enough abjectness. Here's a cute donkey instead:

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Escape Artist

I don't know how I have managed to sit on this piece of news all these months and weeks without exploding: my second collection of poetry, Escape Artist, published with the support of the Jehangir Sabavala Foundation, is out from Aleph Book Co.

Update 2: It appears that - Escape Artist being the only book of poetry Aleph has done - it isn't possible at the time to list it on their website because of categorisation issues. But Aleph has a Facebook page (which I'm sure those of you on FB can find without any help from me) and there are the links (see below) to Flipkart and Amazon. I will of course, post about any readings scheduled. 

[Info etc to be had on Flipkart and Amazon. Also, for those of you who are dismayed by the number of days between order and delivery, I only just got the books myself; of course it will take time before you lot can get a copy!].

But for now, here's how it looks in my home.

(When I imagined writing this post, somehow I thought it would be longer, but really - what else is there to say? Apart from thanks to innumerable people, some of whom I've thanked in the acknowledgements. Actually, there's an idea: maybe I could do a director's cut of acknowledgements.)