Nearing the end of an era

In a complete tangent from my usual musings, I have written a very small verse in honor of a local shop closing down.

Most people will have heard of the chain of clothing stores, Bon Marche. Okay, the majority of women over a certain age will frequent the store more than those of “The Younger Generation,” but it has some good party clothes and is good for a cheap pair of trousers when you’ve dropped a dress size and quickly need a pair that won’t fall down.

I have a local Bon Marche store about a 5 minute walk away and today went in with the intention of perusing the rails for a new pair of trousers and maybe a skirt. I was shocked to find HUGE bright yellow closing down posters plastered all over the walls.

It felt like a friend had just upped and left moments after cutting off my arm.

So, here’s my – currently unfinished – little (orange box) verse for this moment:

It happened (again) today

They’ve done it before

Now they’ve done it again

Gutting the inside

Of our local iconic store

What does the poem-pot hold?

I keep returning to old poems I wrote a few years ago and looking over their rhyming structure (or lack of) and wondering how I could improve them. As a result, I have been distracted from writing numerous pieces of recent stuff for my next assignment.

Maybe that’s not all bad though. Maybe I need to revisit old sites to see if they still withstand the principles and guidance so far explained. Maybe at the end of the course, new-old poems will dust themselves off and be all shiny again.

I’ve been reading a few poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (as has been suggested to me). I’m amazed by how the words appear to just fit perfectly into place, and to not sound over-complicated. Maybe I over-complicate things in my head as I’m planning poems and that’s why I tend to stutter and stop.

I’m trying to get my head around the poetry that I own without feeling bogged-down with them. I only really began reading the “Staying Alive” anthology (given to me as part of my course literature), as I began this section. I just didn’t know where to start. Since then I have been reading the suggested poems in the section, some – like G M Hopkins –  that I have discovered I have, plus a few extra’s hidden away on a shelf or in a drawer.

I’ve also been listening to music (as I often do), finding some beautiful rhymes and structures regardless of the melody surrounding them.

Take two of my favourite songs at the moment, for example.

1)      Florence + The Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” (single: Heavy in Your Arms, 2010) The opening lines “I was a heavy heart to carry/My beloved was weighed down/My arms around his neck/My fingers laced a crown” And so it goes on throughout the song – even putting together confession and blessing in oblique rhyme. The rhyming is subtle, effective and captivating.

2)      Jamie Rodwell’s song “You’re Beautiful” (album: Not Ashamed, Soul Survivor & Momentum, 2009) is a love song. I suppose, without a melody, it would be a sonnet or something similar. It opens “I see your face in every sunrise/The colours of the morning are inside your eyes/The world awakens in the light of the day/I look up to the sky and say//You’re Beautiful//” The rhythm is steady and unfaltering, and is taken right through the song.

I return to these when I need some inspiration in rhyme and rhythm.

Thanks goes to Mslexia magazine on their brilliant article and glossary on rhyming types in their April/May/June 2011 edition (More info at

Here’s a You Tube Video for Jamie Rodwell’s “You’re Beautiful”

planning and application

For this post, please read the reflection on the “reflections” page. It will make more sense then.

So, going into my third assignment, I sat and thought about how I could apply what had been highlighted in the report, into the pieces required for the third assignment. Much of it, I already had done (from my own internal reflection following the last submission); I’d written the ideas down, rough drafts or sketched-out poems then continued onto the first draft, to a more defined structure and rhyming scheme (if that is the right word to use), and finally to a “polished” piece that I was happier with.

I didn’t do a poem for each of the exercise suggestions as I had originally planned, simply because I did not have an idea for some of them; building on the ideas I did have, I pulled together the themes, words – pictures even – to enhance and “flesh out” the pieces.

 The second part of the assignment is still in the planning stages, but I will try to not forget what I have begun to do, and set out here.

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…

making pots and poetry

To rhyme or not to rhyme? It’s a case of “if it fits,” if a rhyming scheme fits, then let it, but make it like a beautifully tailored item of clothing. If a rhyming scheme doesn’t seem to fit, then don’t try to make it fit – it just becomes a horrible mess. Even so, there is always the area in between…
Gathering the information, the material, the background for the next assignment and related poems has been quite interesting, and in some ways, exciting to see the history and origins of words reinforce my main idea.
In gathering this material, I have tried different ways to put pen to paper, i.e. not starting at the top of the page, drawing pictures, mind maps, doodling, etc whilst doing so. Above is a series of pictures and photos of what I have done so far.
Sadly, I have realised too late, that TIFF files are really difficult to work with. Much of my work this time has been in Windows Journal – a fab program but hard to convert to an internet and blog friendly format. I will find a way to put the documents on the blog.