Introducing a new page – heading photo’s

Aside

The old photograph, Bee a Flower was originally taken by my dad, who is on his way to being an amateur photographer. I will try to add some of my favourite photo’s of his, over the coming months.

The current picture (seagulls on posts), is called MINE! and was a snap I took in 2011 in Chester Zoo. The full picture is above

Reasoning with rhyme

 I have a confession to make, I really don’t like rhyme or rhyming –I simply find it so hard to do right, I tend to give up very quickly.

Reading the suggested poetry in “Staying Alive” gave me some hope though. Bitcherel by Eleanor Brown was, above all my favourite, using rhyme to be sarcastic and caustic, something I think rhyme conforms to well. She clearly has a great handle on the variety and usage of rhyming language – something I am yet to develop, and until now, have tried to avoid unless absolutely necessary.

Normally when I rhyme, the poem becomes childlike and obvious and falls somewhat flat. Despite owning a rhyming dictionary, my handle on the English language isn’t quite what it should be, and I get so frustrated over a particular poem, I scrap it altogether or I completely re-write it – non-rhyming of course.

Rhyming is even harder when you consider my accent; the Liverpool accent rhymes words like her, hair, wear and there. It does not scan when written, but is made clearer when read aloud in the accent.

I read as much as I possibly could take in for the first exercise before even attempting putting pen to paper. I then collected words, origins, meanings and all sorts of bits of things that could help me (see post: making pots and poetry).

I didn’t write a poem for every scenario, but expounded on those that I had more information on, or I could visualise some sort of shape to the piece. I also wrote one off-subject, but it seemed to fit in the overall scheme of things.

I now have a few pieces I am happy with, and I can honestly say that as I forced myself to look at rhyme more in-depth, and use it more, I found it easier to write with rhyme. It still has a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

Now for exercise 2…

Listening to the beat

I’m finding the rhythm section (pun intended) really quite hard. I can happily find, read and identify rhythm in other poems but really find it difficult to do with my own. Especially when related to emotion. Emotion is best portrayed in relation to breath and breathing. For example; when fearful or anxious, people often find themselves breathing faster and shallower; an angry person may try to control their breathing or force it out in short bursts. So how can I then transfer this into poetry? While at the same time trying to avoid rhyming or end rhymes as much as possible?

I’ve written a few short pieces, which I will take you through my thinking, and why I probably won’t use them in my final submission for the section.

The Six o’clock alarm

Screeches into my sleep.

I reach out to poke the

Buttons until it stops. Monday.

The first of the month.

May!

I stretch and curl under the cover ready

For my unexpected lie in.

 I’ve tried to portray relief – relief that it’s bank holiday monday, relief that work is suspended for one more day. However, I feel that I lost the rhythm after “reach out to poke the buttons until it stops. Monday.” I did not feel that this ended with this line – after all this is not relief. Nor do I think that the rest of the piece is suitable. It looks too disjointed.

My second piece I had better success with.

I’ve been tortured by this musak

for twenty minutes,

been told twenty times ‘you’re in a queue’.

I want to take that Yamaha butchery.

 Yes folks, it stops there. I couldn’t think of an ending. I chose the topic of being “on hold” to portray frustration (you could also add anger into that if you wanted). I spend much of my working life “on hold” to agencies, services and companies. And yes, I have been tortured by various musak adaptations of some of the classics for twenty minutes or longer.

Well, I liked the idea, and frustration can easily be written by using shorter sentences and this is the result.

On hold for twenty minutes.

Told twenty times “you’re in a queue”.

Patience wearing thin.

This is torture.

One more second. Just one

and I will scream.


I came to a crashing halt after I wrote them. I wrote acouple more pieces, but I dont know if I have the rhythm correct. I keep asking myself what emotion am I trying to convey, and what typifies that emotion. I keep drawing a blank. What does relief look like written? Is happiness an emotion or state of being – how can I write that?

I make more problems and questions than solutions and answers.  

January 2011 – The rhythm section

Okay, it’s been weeks, possibly months since I last wrote here. Apologies to anyone who has had a “quick peek” to find practically nothing.

So let me start again, in the spirit of new year resolutions.

I’ve been going through the section on rhythm – something that I’m really interested in but have never really understood properly. I knew a good rhythmic poem when I heard or read one, however, never felt that my own quite had the proper, or correct rhythms in the right places.

After conducting the exercises on rhythm, I realised how much rhythm surrounds me on a daily basis.

As a Liverpudlian, my own accent, and its idiosyncrasies are really quite rhythmical, although not always noticeable. We tend to make the rhythms up as we go along, adding words, or elongating them to round out sentences that may feel jarring.

A more obvious example is with vowels, more specifically objects or places that begin with a vowel. When we speak, we often will put “the” in front. It is easier to understand when it’s written.

“Are you going to the Asda?”    not   “Are you going to Asda?”

In this example, the “ee” sound enables the sentence to be rounded, and can move easily to pronounce the harsh “a” in “Asda.” This sentence is said in a natural breathing pattern – again something that can be noted within the rhythm section.

If the second sentence is said, the “oo” suddenly stops for a defined breath before continuing with “Asda.” This can be jarring, as it is followed by a hard sounding “a”. You will find that many liverpudlians will pronounce most, if not all vowel and rounded sounds within the sentence

Eg – generalised vowel and rounded sounds only

“Arr y’oo [going] t’oow a[sda]?” 

Compare this to the first sentence, and yes, I have purposely left out the space between “the” and “Asda”

“Arr y’oo [going] t’oow theea[sda]?”

It looks much more complicated that it is said – try saying it.

Yes the word “the” has a harsh sounding beginning but the end softens the next word.

Poem piece I

This is inspired by the first exercise which took place “in the dark”. This has come from a slightly different piece, which I will add and explain later.

Cold air encircles together

With the dark,

And gently nips at fingers

That reach to find

Solid walls and light switches

Out of reach and as elusive

As the shoes that hide and attack

Toes.

Whilst doing the exercise, I was constantly aware and concerned that I would stub my toes on my -reinforced toe- shoes. The idea of feeling for light switches came when I was trying to turn on the light in my kitchen. It was pitch black, except for a flicker from the oven clock. I felt along the wall and still couldn’t find the light switch.

The piece originally began as the following:

Cold air encircles

Nipping fingers that reach

To find solid walls,

Desperately scrabbling for

Light switches

Out of reach

As darkness threatens to thicken,

And closes in on the eyes

I trip over shoes that need tying on

Or tying down

As I fumble with the cords.

I liked the idea of shoes needing tying down, out of the way, as if they would jump out and attack my feet. I kept this idea, running the theme into the new piece. I felt that I’d put in to much description. I wanted the piece to be even shorter, succinct, cloying even. I wanted it to be oppressive, like darkness can be. I wanted it to feel anonymous, that shoes can attack indescriminantly, to whoever enters a dark hallway, half asleep. I didn’t feel that this was fluid, and that came with the final piece.

Turn on the senses by shutting them down

Sight

Walking in the dark (with my eyes covered) through the hallway to put my boots on for work was really, actually quite daunting.

I always keep my boots by the bottom of the stairs, which I knew to be at the right of me. I didn’t trust myself to be able not only to find my boots, but also the right side of the hallway!

I held on to the walls and felt my way around the light switches and across doorways until I figured I was almost opposite the stairs, and then I trekked across the two feet of floor to the otherside…

I was anxious, and scarred that I would trip or stub my toe on the skirting or my boots.

I felt the newel post at the side of the staircase, and slid down until I could feel the two bottom steps, and my boots, and managed to sit onto the stairs. Have you ever sat on a chair without looking behind you to check it was still there? There’s a moment when you’re sure you will end up on the floor, just before you reach the seat. It’s a mixture of anxiety, fear, sudden loss of confidence, then relief as you reach the seat. That’s what I felt as I sat down on the stairs.

Welcome to The Hide!

A poetry learning and inspiration blog by me, Melanie Coulthard, poet, writer, other. This will be a place to describe, scribble and visualise poetry and the poetical experience. Hopefully it will be a visual as well as a litterary blog. A friendly stroll through the process of poetry and poetry making.

I’m currently studying a module on “the art of poetry” with the Open College of the Arts.

Here you will find my experiences, thoughts and feelings with each exercise I undertake as part of the course, from thinking and preparing to write poetry through to the more polished work.

Here you will find a brief synopsis of how I approached the exercises (and maybe even what I did with them) and what I am taking from them. You’ll see my ideas for each piece I write, the problems I stumble on whilst writing, including what I can’t scrap but probably should!

You may not get everything here – sometimes it’s just not possible to add things onto a blog, but I’ll have a go. All that I can’t put on will always be in one of two notebooks, all pretty old school, but it works for me!

It just leaves me to say, welcome to The Hide.