Tag Archives: slow poetry

Slow poetry part three

The work of mourning

In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch
In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch
In the work of mourning it is not grief that works, grief keeps watch

In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the work of morning it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch

In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps watch

In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of mourning, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil

In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that functions, grief keeps vigil

In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the toil of deep regret, it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil

In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief keeps vigil

In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake
In the abject drudgery of deep regret it is not grief that operates, grief stays awake

i.m. Patrick Doherty

We never did find the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock
We didn’t really look for  the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock
We may have hidden the bullet that entered Patsy’s right buttock

We searched high and low for the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint
It was never in our interests to find  the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint
We may have disposed of  the bullet that penetrated Patsy’s right ilio-sacral joint

We all went to look for the bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity
We scoured the ground in our search for  the bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity
The bullet  that entered Patsy’s abdominal cavity will never come to light

We never did come across the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta
We didn’t really search for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta
We may have secreted away the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s aorta

We never did find the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava
We didn’t really look for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava
We may have hidden the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s inferior vena cava

We searched high and low for the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen
It was never in our interests to find the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen
We may have disposed of the high velocity round that lacerated the two main blood vessels in Patsy’s abdomen

We weren’t that bothered about the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments
We never did find the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments
We searched high and low for the high velocity round that tore through Patsy’s bowel and colon attachments

We may have found and the disposed of the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm
It was never in our interests to find and retain the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm
We searched high and low for the bullet that lacerated Patsy’s diaphragm

We never located the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity
We may have hidden or otherwise discarded the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity
We don’t have the bullet that entered Patsy’s left chest cavity

We searched high and low for the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung
It was never in our interests to produce to this Inquiry the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung
We left no stone unturned in our search for the high velocity round that lacerated the lower outer part of Patsy’s left lung

We never did find the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib
We don’t have the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib
We may once have had what was left of the bullet that fractured Patsy’s eighth left rib

We searched high and low for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib
We may have hidden or otherwise discarded for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib
It was never in our interests to produce to this or any other Inquiry for the bullet that fractured Patsy’s ninth left rib

We never did locate the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.
We never really tried to find  the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.
We searched high and low for  the bullet that left Patsy’s body through the left side of the chest, well below and somewhat in front of the armpit.

Because I still like him

Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the disappointment of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still like him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can foresee the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the exasperation of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the bad reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of the poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I still need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I can anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t anticipate the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the impatience of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must need  him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t value the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I may love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my poor reader
Because I must love him, I don’t diminish the anger of  my wrong reader
Because I still love him, I don’t ignore the rage of my wrong reader
Because there is love and anger  between us, we don’t read as we should.

 

Slow poetry: a manifesto

Whilst trying to earn some money this week, I’ve also been thinking about the poem that I published here a few days ago and wondering whether this particular vein should be pursued. Positive feedback from Jim Kleinhenz and my daughter makes me think that it might be worthwhile but as working with repetition and small changes is new to me, I thought I’d put a few thoughts down before I progress any further with the material.

This started when I was listening to Laurence Crane on Radio 3 last week.  He was being interviewed as a way of introducing each piece. In the introduction to ‘Ethiopian Middle Distance Runners’ he said that he was interested in repetition and the effect of small changes and also in the way that these changes can still carry something of the original. My immediate response was to groan inwardly because I’m not usually fond of this level of austere abstraction.

The piece was then broadcast and I listened whilst trying (again) to write something interesting about Bloody Sunday. about two or three minutes into the piece I found I was listening intently to the repetition  and waiting for the change to occur. The pen was then put down and I gave the rest of the piece my full attention.

Things then began to fall into place quite quickly, I recdognised that repetition and small changes could be used in verse to produce similar effects. I’d had a line running through my head- ‘we don’t die enough’ that I’d absorbed and adapted from Blanchot and started to make a few notes. I have to say that I was pleased with the result because it provided a ‘use’ for the line and also pointed to other possibilities. I then tried to be a bit more ambitious with a description of a wound taken from the original Bloody Sunday pathology reports and developed that using less repetition and more complex changes to the line. I found this satisfying to do primarily because I was working with language in a different way and because the ‘technique’ seemed quite straightforward.

I then read the two pieces aloud and had a bit of a panic as to whether they should only be read aloud or printed on the page as well. I then found that I had a need to put these initial efforts on this blog- something I haven’t done for many months and that this need wasn’t so much about getting a reaction but more about display for it’s own sake- I still haven’t made sense of this impulse.

That’s by way of a longish introduction to a manifesto on what I’ve decided to call ‘slow poetry’. I think that this has two main strands-

  1. the use of repetition to encourage greater attention and to provide emphasis- a kind of incantation;
  2. the use of small changes to demonstrate (indicate) the complex relationship between the words and ‘sense’

There are a couple of other provisos, the first is that the initial line has to be quite strong, by this I mean that it has to gain and hold the reader’s interest and that it has to hold the potential for development. The second proviso is that things when modified shouldn’t become too complex or busy. The third is that the piece needs to end properly and that the last line requires as much thought as the first.

These have all come to light since I’ve started to see what repetition can do. I’ve also discovered the joys of appropriation, in working out ‘strong’ first lines I’ve found that it is feasible/reasonable to plunder bits of philosophy and to subject these to repetition and modification. I’ve done something with a line (which is almost an aside) from Derrida’s ‘La carte postale’ which has led me to think quite hard about this line in particular and what Rorty says  that Derrida’s doing with this  tome.  The good thing about slow poetry is that I’ve been able to work through very very gradually what might be going on. I’ve also discovered that appropriation is misnamed, it is much more about selection than theft.

There is also the documentary aspect, I have on my hard drive many of the witness statements provided to the Saville Inquiry and twenty or so of these describe one particular event in many different ways. I’ve been using some of these differences to experiment with what language does to sense described above. This has been immensely rewarding because I’ve spent 18 months using the ‘superabundant’ approach  to achieve the same effect and this minimal approach seems so much cleaner and more disciplined.

Bloody Sunday is important to me for several reasons and one of the things that it shows is how complicated and fragile the witness / knowledge / proof / judgement  process actually is and that this fragility undermines our notions of knowledge and ‘truth’. What slow poetry gives me is an opportunity to demonstrate this in a reasonably compelling way.

I’m very encouraged by Jim’s response primarily because he’s a very accomplished poet who gives a great deal of thought to what he writes. Both Jim and my daughter throw up ways of thinking about this stuff that I haven’t considered and will need to incorporate in the near future. I’m also intrigued to see Jim’s use of repetition on his blog this week.

The other thing that comes to mind is that I’ve spent this week thinking more about language (in all its forms) and less about poetry……. I also feel the need to post more of this stuff.

Slow poetry parts one and two

(from an idea stolen from ‘Ethiopian Middle Distance Runners’ by Laurence Crane)

Part One.

We don’t die enough.

We don’t die enough.

We don’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We can’t die enough.

We can’t die enough.

We can’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I don’t die sufficiently.

I don’t die sufficiently.

I don’t die sufficiently.

You don’t die enough.

You don’t die enough.

You don’t die enough.

Our death is insufficient.

Our death is insufficient.

Our death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

I never die enough.

I never die enough.

I never die enough.

The end of my / our / your life will always be less than it should (be).

Part two

The wound is said to be everted.

The wound was noted to be everted.

The flesh and skin on either side of the gaping hole was found to be everted.

The wound was said to be ragged.

The wound was noted as being ragged.

The bullet had burst out of the skull via the lower right eyelid leaving a wound which was ragged where the flesh was said to be everted.

Because they spin, it is a popular belief that bullets drill their way in and out of bodies.

This is not the case. Entry is gained by the forward thrust of the bullet, the effect can be said to be percussive.

At the point of impact, just behind the left ear, the skull fractured in six or seven places.

We no longer have access to the skull.

We are working from notes taken at the time.

To be everted is to be turned inside out. The flesh that was pointing inwards is now pointing outwards to the sky. Everted. Ragged.

Others have testified that the head exploded, that the face was gone, that the head was gone, that the face had fallen away.

This was not the case.

We have the notes and the photographs that were taken at the time.

The body is seen to be lying in blood and the right side of the face is a mess but it is still recognisable and it is still attached to the skull which has not exploded.

The wound was said to be everted.