Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Poem, O Swami Shivananda, A Poem!

I wrote a poem this morning. That might not be startling news, or even interesting news, but to me it's quite significant. I haven't been able to write poetry consistently - or well - for a long time now, and once I was pretty good at it. Got published as often as I was given the bum's rush by the little magazines I submitted to. Even made it into two proper books.

And then life got in the way. Too many rejections all at once knocked my confidence (never as deeply embedded as it appears). I was working long hours in a job I hated too, and the worse my situation got there, the more it drained the vitality out of me. I lost the ability to imagine, to conceive of new worlds, which is what a poet has to do, I think, to write interesting stuff. Not that you have to write about interplanetary travel or anything. But if you can't abstract yourself from everyday experience and play mental games with your role in the world - if you can't see yourself, as crazy as it sounds, as heroic in some way (everybody should, incidentally) - you won't write anything worth a short sit in the benjo.

I've had the illness too, to acclimatise to. But I think I've done that. And I'm not working at the job I hated now either, having quit last February in a violent huff. I'm at University doing an English degree, as anybody who has read more than a few posts here will know. So now the only thing I have that I could justifiably use as an excuse for not writing is the workload of the degree. And that is considerable, at least it is for a competitive bastard like me who wants to get good grades on assignments whether they interest me or not just to prove to anybody watching that I can.

We're finally getting into some of the writers I like now too, on the course, after spending months wading through staggeringly average poets and dull Victorian novelists. This week we have to look at Blake and cummings. Next week it's John Steinbeck; then Langston Hughes and Allen Ginsberg. I've read all of these people to death, but it won't hurt to be sitting in rooms reading their poetry with other people.

My main inspiration still comes from the Underground, though: all the people I publish in BEATNIK; Ron Whitehead; Wild Bill Blackolive etc. etc. That's where real writing happens. That's where to go if you want to know how to practice this craft with true style and innovation and elan instead of just serving the prejudices of safe middle-aged people who don't want anything in literature or life to change.

And I'm determined to get back the poet I was not so long ago. Writing is the only thing I ever wanted to do.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Bard Writhing Half-Dead on December Floors

Yesterday was the first time I felt ill for four months. My head hurt and I had occasional eerie moments in my perceptions all day. Then last night I was sitting in the dark at my house watching tv and I felt the full delightful epileptic experience coming on. It's a tough one even for a writer to describe but it's something like feeling your consciousness float half way out of your body; every time it happens you know you're going to hit the floor.

Ever the practical man, I took my glasses off and somehow walked up the stairs, got into bed. I woke up three hours later (I subsequently discovered), with all of the sheets on the floor, desperate to go to the toilet but with no memory of where I was or how to get out of there to the loo. And when I found the door handle to take me out of the bedroom my hand wouldn't tighten around the door handle; my muscles had stopped working.

I went and laid down again, went back to sleep for a few minutes. An awareness of what had happened was beginning to seep in, but my head felt like somebody had buried an axe in it; my arms, my legs and my stomach hurt. I couldn't keep working at the door until I got it open or remembered where it would take me precisely.

Sleep, as I said, was fleeting. My bladder was too full. Thankfully, so far, when I have a seizure I don't piss myself. I had to go to the toilet three times and laid awake in between wondering what had become of my life. Then when I'd had enough of that I went downstairs for two paracetamol and a box of Shreddies. Gradually the pain began to wear off; but the realisation that  I was nowhere near recovery came back to haunt me the following day.

New Year's Resolutions

I don't know if you make New Year's Resolutions on serious blogs. I don't know if this is a serious blog. I don't know what it is other than the occasional ramblings of a writer/editor in the Underground literary game. And today I have decided - possibly for the first time - on some Resolutions. So here we go.

1) I will complete (start) the second draft of my novel Penny's Farm.

2) I will write more poetry.

3) I will meditate every day.

4) I will lose some weight (I know, what a horrible cliche).

We will see, Bridget Jones style, how they are progressing, as the year unfolds. If, that is, the epilepsy doesn't throw my unexpectedly down my stairs and break my neck. Or I don't end up homeless. Ever the optimist, you see.