I have been a member of the Highgate Poetry Society for 24 years. It was founded in 1977 in the Highgate Society, where I run my Highgate workshops. The Poets have produced 26 anthologies and we have many award winning and published poets who have been part of our group. I honed my poetry writing and reading aloud skills with the Poets and I owe the monthly workshops and the rigour of the critique a great deal.
However, in the past few years my focus has been so much on writing Y.A. fiction that my poetry has dropped off considerably. I still get a regular flow of ideas and my notebooks are full of starters, but taking the time to sit and carefully craft a poem always comes second to writing the next chapter.
I therefore decided that my NY Resolution, 2013, would be ‘To write more poetry’.
And then foolishly posted it on Facebook and Twitter – and NOW I'm even blogging about it. So there’ll be considerable egg on my face if I don’t DO IT!!
The first poem of the New Year therefore had a sort of taking stock theme to it.
If I become an old woman
not like Mum, dead before seventy;
I’ll ride a Harley down Route 66
Bob Dylan trailing in the slipstream,
drink moonshine brewed by cowboys
and learn to shoot straight.
I’ll eat chocolate with every meal
sell my Freedom Pass at street value
and wear jeans to fancy weddings.
I’ll push my Zimmer into Starbucks
shouting at my smartphone; looking mad
like business men and yummy mummies.
And when I need to go into a Home
I’ll start a squat, siphon off the leckie
from the streetlights, grow skunk in the living room.
I know I’ll never stand in Armstrong’s
footsteps on the moon, base jump El Capitain,
sleep overnight on the Antarctic ice.
But when I write
I’m standing naked on a beach,
the wind in my hair, 19 again
and all of life spreading out before me.
I know about the 'wearing purple' poem, but mine is for the hippie generation!
My next poem – which is currently in bits and pieces – is about Amy Winehouse. For lots of reasons, but mainly because she was the same age as my daughter and mine is alive and well.
Here is the opening gambit :
She is a Jools Holland Boxed Set now
a birthday present for the better half
loyal fan, jazz fanatic.
She sang like Piaf but died like Janis
in a flood of poisoned blood and tears
broke all our hearts twice over.
In the yellow pub near Camden Square
she sings, “Heard it on the grapevine”
over the lunchtime crowd while we wait.
Then my girl bounds over the threshold
caught for a second in a halo of sunlight
her skin radiant, unpainted, veins running clear.
It’s a starters and we’ll see if it develops. And it’s only January. (excuses, excuses)
It would be nice to aim for a poem a week. I have one to write about visiting San Francisco last summer :
This town rings with writers/ Kerouac, Frost, Dashiel Hammett/
And notes for another one about my generation being unwired and all the other things we didn’t have like :
black, partner, celebrity jungles/ and the only X we knew was in x-ray/
I’ll let you know how I get on in another blog – of course this might be IT and I’ll stall at these unfinished lines. But I hope not.
You can read a couple of my poems from the 26th Highgate Poets Anthology on my website.