Monday, December 1

remember those sweets you haven't eaten for years?

Walking home, a girl passed me who smelt of refreshers. Refreshers the sweets, the ones which fizz and feel like they're bubbling in your nose. Beautiful.

Wednesday, November 12

The name in my inbox. It lights up all on its own. Magic!

Several emails lately from friends who I've not spoken to in a while. People with whom I have very erratic correspondence, but that's okay with, because neither of us gets angsty about it.

Beautiful to see the initials and names flash up. Probably more so than getting a buzz on your phone and seeing the name. Handwriting on envelopes, however, that's a whole new matter...

(Especially when there's an invitation to visit a place which, in one of my friend's words, 'may actually be the prettiest place in the world'.)

Bought new for £2.95 - how many years ago?

I'm reading a book which is enjoyable. It's exciting, quite frivolous, and not too hardcore. It's not particularly experimental, it doesn't try to be very flashy; it's actually understated. Not the best of her works maybe, but still worthwhile I'd say, especially to provide the context of the others. My problem isn't with the novel itself at all - rather, I'm curious about why it has never been taken out of the library before. Why, to be precise, this has gone unread by so many potential readers.

This is a pretty key author I'm talking about; someone who's neither obscure nor rarely discussed. Not one of her key works, but still, why hasn't it been read before me? If the book (a beautiful hardback, with an equally glorious cover - have to admit it!) was bought for £2.95 new, then it must have been bought several years ago.

Problem is, this book isn't on the shelves. Instead of being on the shelves (where there is lots of nice, 'light' reading) it is rejected, only allowed space in the basement. My quarrel with this is that, as someone who largely discovered reading through picking stuff up off the shelves (in libraries, second-hand bookshops, charity shops, shelves of my friends' parents etc.) I worry that people are missing out.

Sure, it's a good feeling when the pages are untouched, nice and clean, unsmudged, without any wear... but it begs the question of why these books are going unread, and what people are missing out on.

I admit it freely: if I find witty or pertinent annotations in a book, or perhaps even a post-it stuck in or a note referencing another work or an essay, I am intrigued. I'm nosy, curious, whatever you want to call it: I want to know. About books, and about what the people before me have thought. I like picking up a book and having some kind of a link between the people who've enjoyed it (or not, as the case may be) before.

We need to bring these books up from the basement. Put them in between the trash (like in charity shops, sometimes!) Put them amongst the chick lit or smuggle a few into the precious 'teenager literature' section. Let people find them and develop their own tastes for what they enjoy. Let them have a choice to read the amazing literature, to write faint comments in the margins, to pause and think and go back and read again and keep on discovering.

PS: The book is a novel of Woolf. PPS: A great deal of what I have come to love has been through these forays where I have stumbled across works I hardly knew anything about. PPPS: I'm not too sure about defining 'key'. Maybe someone else can!

Friday, October 24

Read This magazine

Up for encouraging new, fresh writing, Read This magazine is not one to be turned down. The team is an Edinburgh ensemble, with Claire Askew, who was this year's Poet in Residence at the London Poetry Festival, as chief ed. If you're up Edinburgh way, they're having a party on Wednesday 12th November. Exciting poetry, a few drinks, and a beautiful city - sounds great to me!

You can check out it's online edition which features various poets at different stages, and includes my poem 'Vodka's Punch' at the moment. Click http://www.readthismagazine.co.uk/ and have a look at the 'Poetry & Drama' which you'll find on the left.

[poem was here.]

[poem was here.]

Monday, September 29

Delete, delete, and delete till they're gone.

Clearing my inbox (pretty much, only 30 or so left out of hundreds of email) was surprising. I'd forgotten that some people had ever emailed me, realised I'd left far too many emails unanswered, and that horrible things such as 'social networking sites' were clogging it up. This is the first time I've ever almost-cleared my inbox; so far I've somehow managed not to. I also happened upon an email from someone whose emails I thought I'd totally got rid of. One had slipped through. I opened it - at least it was a happy email. Supposedly happy. There was talk of photos and how we look so happy on them, and aftershave, and birthday presents; an overall isn't-life-great-just-now tone. Why say it so much, if it is? Did we really need to say it? I can't remember replying to that email. Of course, I probably did. Or maybe that was when we weren't talking for a while. I can't remember, it was so many months ago. This one got deleted too.

Tuesday, September 23

Today, not yesterday or the next day.

Following a conversation with a friend, about God and time and hope and possibility (really ought to have been a pub conversation, with empty glasses cluttering the table), I did some thinking. My friend was projecting (as far as I can tell) the idea that it is today we should think about. So although people will naturally have expectations, based on previous time spend with us, or perhaps just preconceptions, we should try to free ourselves from these expectations. We should live each day as if it is a new day, if that is possible. Which lead me to a few questions, and namely one about whether, having made what we feel are mistakes, or done stupid things, whether we ought to apologise for them, or just forge the new, forge the better and concentrate on that? Because when we apologise, even to other people, we are simultaneously solidifying regrets, or concentrating on what went wrong, rather than today, here, these minutes, this evening where the sky is dark and the streetlamps lit. I'm not sure; a lot depends on the context, as Offred discusses (or rather Atwood discusses via Offred) in The Handmaid's Tale. It is a question, like most, of interpretation, but what does saying sorry do? For the people who know you, they will probably know that you are sorry, and for those who don't, I suppose you just have to hope, and concentrate on each day as it arrives.

(And yet we plan weeks, months, years ahead. We're forced to. We can't help looking at yesterday, either: 'we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.' Incidentally, when I borrowed someone else's copy of The Great Gatsby, they'd underlined it as well.)

Language is key. The attention to detail. The peeking out of the sides of our hoods.

In 'The Handmaid's Tale', the female 'handmaids' are named Of + [commander's name]. Our (for she is ours; she is the voice which Atwood has sung in knowledge that the personal is the political) protagonist is called Offred.

If she had simply named the women Mrs + [husband's name], I doubt we would have been asking where the Ms was. Especially since it seems that a lot of women in my generation are hardly aware of Ms. By subverting our traditional naming practices, however, she comments on the possessive power element embedded into our naming system through a patriarchal society. We ask, why should this women be named after a man? (A man, incidentally, with whom in Gilead she has not initially chosen to associate herself. The choice was not there.) Why, moreover, should she be defined in terms of the man? ‘Offred’ insinuates that the most important thing is that she is owned; she is someone else’s; she is Fred’s, and he has laid claim to her more publically than any wedding ring.

We turn the question to ourselves. We can’t help it. The parallel is clear. Why should we be defined (for naming is defining, see 'Translations' - Brian Friel) by our male partner? And what on earth happens if our partner isn't male? (Gilead being a puritan, Christian fundamentalist state, homosexuality or anything verging remotely away from heterosexuality is forbidden. The choice, again, is not there.)

This example from 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a small one, but it shows how Atwood is clearly tackling gender issues: question of power, possession, and patriarchy.

Monday, August 25

a poem was here...

-- poem was here --

---

Maybe you need to have read Clare Pollard's poem, which is after another poem (gets confusing, doesn't it!)

Thursday, June 19

shoving your hands in the ground and finding worms, centipedes...

a very good feeling. Physically exhausting, lots of aching, stomach knawing for food, but overall an immense feeling. I'd recommend it to all.

--

Yikes... I have a guest visiting soon and their room is really not tidy yet at all. I also have books (two) to read before the guest arrives. And notebooks to buy (since Tesco is categorically rubbish, after ringing up and being told the notebooks I was after were definitely in stock, when apparently they'd not been at that store for at least a week.)

Saturday, May 17

Expectations, expectations, expectations.

so i haven't updated this for a while. Somebody asked me why. I'm not sure. Little inclination? I think I might stop it (as if I hadn't kind of already.)

---

I should actually write something about the title. Notice the s-h-o-u... in there. Eek... time to hide, find a corner from which we can peer and hope the thing doesn't take over us.

I had a few thoughts recently, about why people do things, and how sad (depressing? miserable? unhopeful?) it is that some people do things just for someone else to gratify them, to say that they have 'reached' whatever it is that they are supposed to reach, even though of course they can never 'reach' enough. This is people who are never content/ happy/ satisfied who I'm talking about. People who feel so strongly unsettled and unsure, that they strive to be 'enough', foregoing basic pleasures. Someone who will deny themselves things if there is no 'purpose' or supposed academic 'gain'. They like to collect. People, facts, books, so-called knowledge. They can never collect enough, and whatever they do, it has to somehow relate back to trying to prove themselves. Sure, it's not physical posturing, but is it much better? Attempts at intellectual posturing, reading because they have been told, or because someone else (a friend, perhaps) has read the book, and, God forbid, they haven't. Where does it go? When do they realise?

Or do they just deny? Pretend they're learning for learning's sake, or because they enjoy it... enjoy it at the expense of any social inclinations, or any basic enjoyment. Pretend they like not going out to watch a film because they can't let themselves get over the fact that - shock horror - they've spent 2 hours doing something which wasn't 'productive'.

I have nothing against learning. Really. I enjoy some sorts of it a lot, and I like reading. But I also like to think that I'm reading for me, that I'm doing it for me, because, you know, we don't really have a great deal of time here, in fact, we have relatively little, and so why would I waste it away on trying to prove? Might I not just give up on this? Or realise the futility of it, learn to learn because I want to, and if that's not whatever subject I've applied for, then so be it. It's not so tragic if one fails sometimes. If we realise that we cannot be the best categorically, and that maybe what is best, is beginning to wake up to these expectations and learn to move beyond them.

Will we flap our arms? Will we forget how to tread water when the mark on the results sheet isn't an A? Will we push the heads of those who read the book/ knew the 'facts' before us under the water? Will we trip our friends up, as we push to read the end of the lane? Will we stop? Will we watch the rain pouring out over drains outside, the diggers bludgeoning through gravel, and the sun warming that particular spot in the top right-hand corner of the pool? Will we lie, naked, and learn to float? Will we learn to be, without having a purpose or goal or aim for everything?

Sunday, April 13

Man on the train.

So, the scene goes like this. There's one of my friends and me. We're sat on a train. Maybe we have our feet up on the seats; probably we have our feet up. On the cluster of seats opposite sits a man, reading a book. Which book,I don't know. I remember trying to read the cover but unfortunately my eyesight didn't succeed that time. Anyway, so we're chatting, me and my friend.

Bla bla bla bla ensues. And I mention how people tell me to spend time/ make effort with person X (this is easiest), but I don't feel like making effort with person X anymore because I'm all out of making effort for person X and there are other people I'd rather give my effort to.

Man on the seats opposite is clearly listening. I don't mind too much, nor does my friend. It's not a particularly private conversation, and it's not as if anybody on the train is going to know this person X.

Man on the train glances up from his book every so often and is clearly listening more. Then, about a stop away from where me and my friend get off, he says that it sounds like I'm trying to convince myself about something when I've already made my mind up. Then we say some other things.

But, you know, I kind of like that the stranger actually said something. I don't mind it when strangers do, unless they're obviously very weird or you've made it clear you don't want to chat. Anyway, lots of people tell me they think it's rude to chime into a conversation like that. I'm not sure. Sometimes people are just too stuffy and unfriendly, especially if you're only trying to be nice.

Plus, through my talking on trains I've met so many interesting people. Like the other day I was at an art gallery and met someone who makes sculptures and is running for a big art prize. Good things can come from talking or just being friendly, I suppose it just depends who you choose to talk to.

Sprinting.

Today I re-realised my love of the thing that is sprinting. It's almost as good as diving into a swimming pool, and feeling the oxygen running out, your body climbing to the surface as the supply of bubbles becomes exhausted.

I like the way it makes my throat hurt, my legs ache and feel jellified, and my head rush with the pressure afterwards; the way my body feels so powerful when I sprint, and knowing that I can sprint. I think I'm getting hooked on exercise... if I don't run/ cycle/ walk/ swim I end up unable to just sit down and study. I can't sit and study unless my body is tired, and I like that feeling. Feeling that you can't give it much more. Then having a long, long bath at the end of the day, or a shower when you get back and having the spray on high on my muscles on my back.

I wholly recommend it. Not jogging (that effect is no where near as strong), but sprinting. Sprint, sprint, sprint...

Tuesday, April 1

A post I wrote a while ago and hesitated about posting.

it is the holidays. Which means no more college (6th form/ school... glad I'm not one of those poor buggers who still have a uniform and perky year 7s not yet dulled by years of the mundane, poke-my-head-with-some-thing-other-than-hoop-jumping routine.)



It is now that I realise that, potentially, I learn more at home than at school or college. Does writing this put my under some legal thing to be kicked out? Possibly. Oh well. Not too long left now (just a year... but that's probably not too many actual years of school). I don't like hoop-jumping, or phrase-reciting, or being stuck in a room with other people who don't want to be there (because this most certainly was true; whether it is now, I'm not 100%. I don't think EMA is the best invention either, but that's due for another post.) Here's a statement that's true, reasonably: I like learning, I dislike school. Does there seem anything remotely sniffy about that? A faint whif of something not-quite-right?



Maybe education as coursework rehashed (not mine, but plenty of other peoples) by teachers, or the majority of the lesson being spent trying to persuade a few of the really noisy kids to shut up, sit down, get out a pen and start copying the notes isn't quite right? (Why they don't just give up and tell them to piss off out of the classroom, I don't know. Don't confuse this with some kind of conservative 'let them be fucked up if they will' view. It's not. I agree with giving them support, but not at the expense of the supposed teaching of other kids.)



Who do we blame? The government? The teachers? The other kids? The other kids' parents? Maybe you have a better idea than me. But it's not right, it's really, really not.

Thursday, March 27

Sartre: Existentialism & Humanism

It's appealing if you don't have a religion. It's appealing, I'd imagine, for many teenagers; 'Life is nothing until it is lived; but it is yours to make sense of, and the value of it is nothing else but the sense that you choose.' It's also - bearing in mind that I'm reading it in English translation this time - concisely written, with lots of yummy rhetoric.

A friend (who lives in the states, so I've not seen him for a long time) talked to me about his interpretation and readings of Sartre a couple of years ago. Now I finally read it, and I can see why.

I like the idea that you are who you are in the actions that you make (or don't, as the case may be) right now. But it doesn't work like that in reality, does it? People hardly take you for what you're actually doing right now - and to ask them to would be impossible. But maybe we're supposed to just tell them where to go? I'm not sure. I need to re-read it. It's hopeful, anyway. A text I began in the early hours and, after sleep, finished in the bath.

I still can't get away from the 'man' and 'for all men' etc annoying me. Yes, I can't change it in what's already written, blah blah, but I somehow think that 'one' - at the risk of sounding stuffy - is more equal. I hate the way language excludes women. And why is God always 'he'? What about a 'she'?

Too bad it's not a set text of mine. The discussions, I imagine, would've been great.

Monday, February 18

Friday, February 15

the most fantastic things ever (some of...)

  • Walking into a place, and - if it is possible to say a place is humming with ideas - knowing that this place in which you step is.
  • Meeting people and being able to talk and joke and laugh without any kind of awkwardness bar the surprise that this is someone you have only just met; and it not mattering that you will probably never meet them again (although often, it seems, you somehow do end up meeting them again) all that is important is that it is there, you know you have had it, you are so sure of this, and that even if it is fleeting, which you know it is, for it cannot be anything but a temporary lull, and that other people would say it is silly that it can leave such an impression, beyond all this, that it is possible is what you hold most tightly. That it is possible to now and then exist in this that comes and goes, which you never know when it will occur, and due to such utter lack of knowledge, you can only be utterly overwhelmed when it does.
  • Walking, cycling, swimming – exercise altogether. Why don't people do more of it? It doesn't cost much – if anything – and it feels fantastic. Plus, work-wise, the benefits are huge. If I've reached a block with some work, I go for a walk; when I return to it, it is inevitably easier.
  • The way things collide; mixes, matchings, collisions. Chance meetings, chance overhearings, chance opportunities and lands you never before knew existed simultaneously unlocking themselves in your mind, without any effort or will on your part. Life, for all the shit we get thrown, refusing to let you give up on it. It swings over you, showing what could and can be, laughing as you try to sleep and you think how finite, finite mortals we are, and what fools for wasting so much of it – for the lack of self-indulgence, the lack of selfishness, the pretending that others needs/ wants/ wishes are our own and allowing them to be imposed up on us. And now I am surprised at how surprising my days are. So many things have happened recently which surprise me and push at disbelief that the world can, could, possibly be real. I am surprised. Truly, truly surprised, and so happy that I can only wait for the (inevitable?) tip - it will, it must come. When, like so much else, I do not know.
There needs to be another word for stranger; for the kind of stranger who you see/ overheard/ read/ meet and instantly know.

Alcohol and Poetry Readings.

Scene: people sat around, chairs, tables, and someone reading poems. Said poem-reader is sipping water inbetween poems.

Interlude. Unfortunately not an overly musical one, but an interlude nonetheless. Now the poet returns to the music-stand, posture considerably relaxed, to read some more poems.

But! ah! In his hand, this time he holds an almost-finished glass of red wine.

Tuesday, February 5

I enjoys/ I likes/ I loves... etc.

  • having had my hair cut (it is much better. Feels lovely!)
  • reading some older poetry (Metaphysical and Victorian stuff)
  • a book called 'Mastering Poetry' by Sara Thornes. It's written succinctly, arranged neatly, and goes into enough detail. It's not a 'here, this is what you must believe' sort of book...
  • dunking brioche in hot chocolate
  • walking for a long time, just walking, no where in particular
  • waking up without quickly having to get up (a favourite ;))
  • explaining to hairdressers that I do, quite literally, nothing with my hair apart from washing and brushing now and then: no mousse, no product, no straightners (I would rather sleep or watch a film)
  • eating really good food. Recent things include some wonderful monkfish with a great tomato sauce, squash mash, carrot cake... bread and butter pudding (with croissants, real custard, lemon, currants and nutmeg)
  • wearing my new - hand-knitted (and holy!) - scarf
  • wearing a certain pair of trainers (which are now so worn out. I would buy the same ones again. Must have a look to see if I can get them... whenever I next go clothes/ shoe shopping, which has actually not been for a long, long time)
  • drinking green and blacks' hot chocolate (it's a substitute until I go to France and stock up again)
  • walks in the evening with friends
  • impromptu trips
  • pendants. Necklaces. I'm looking out for some new ones!
  • lying on cushions on the floor, doing absolutely nothing (try it, then tell me if you don't like it)

Saturday, February 2

it's been a long time since a 70-line poem.

(there was a poem here.)
---

just a bit of it.

Today

  • we have snow, obvious white on the green of boring mowed lawns, on the lines of houses blocking the hills and the parks
  • we also have sun, which is a pleasant change in the corner of England where rain is expected
  • And wind, but not overly so.

Ideal cycling scenery, really, which is a good thing also, considering my bike has not been stolen, despite my dreaming last night that it had (although this reminds me that it needs fixing. But so long as it is in covered-in-mud condition, I like to think it is less likely to be nicked? Hmm... I also need a better lock.)

Of course, we have a lot of that bit where snow melts and turns into slippy pearly gloop on our pavements. I also got a new book of poems today. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Public-Dream-Frances-Leviston/dp/0330440543/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1201951662&sr=8-1 It doesn't compensate for last night, although it goes some way to a private comfort. Poetry often does that... get fed up with people, go somewhere, and sit and read. Then read some more... until sufficiently brimming with poems and lines swimming around your mind. (See! The reason I read so much! Partially, please... it is partially why. There are other reasons too, but necessity hits pretty high on the list.) I like the way the lines move - doesn't sound forced at all - makes me want to learn how to do that. Maybe I will find out where she's reading next. And go all on my onio. And not have to bother with anyone else, or making conversation with new people, unless I really really want to. (I don't mean this post to give the impression I'm unsociable - I wouldn't actually say I am - I just, like most people probably do, get fed up of bothering sometimes.)

A friend text me telling me they like trains. I presume she's on one. Lucky... Where would you take a train/ trains to, if you could go anywhere? Which reminds me to also ask, have you ever tried interrail?

(Another added comfort last night was reading essays on The Catcher in The Rye. You might think the book itself would be more interesting, but it was extremely fun reading this, as I'd never read much criticism on the book before, despite having read it so many times. I really enjoyed the previous readers' witty notes too... they were oh-so-inventive... *raises eyebrow*) Oh, I have work to do. AS work, versus essays, versus poems, versus cycling, versus running (can I even run properly anymore? I doubt I have the stamina. Cycling is an easier option) ... decisions, decisions.

Friday, February 1

at what point do you give up

on people, or one particular person? how many chances can you really let yourself give to them, offer out to them, putting your time, your hopes, yourself on the line, before you are fed-up and tired of hoping for change which will never come?

I don't think I actually want the answer.

Tuesday, January 29

Much Ado About Nothing - plays/ texts for comparison?

I have an essay to write on Much Ado About Nothing. Am thinking I could 'compare + contrast' with another comedy, perhaps written around a similar time, or maybe a bit later. Any ideas? I'm stuck - this is an area of literature which I really need to find out more about. By comparing and contrasting, I could write about the way the form is used, the comedy, effects of his contemporaries perhaps...

suggestions? I would even consider poetry. Or something in translation. Very much open to ideas. Of course, I could do another question, rather than the one about it being a comedy, but seeing as my weak point is genre, it would make sense to stretch myself a bit more, do some reading (albeit quickly and intensely!), and find out some things.

What would you do?

Let's imagine there's a form which needs filling out. You're female, and don't want to be given the title Miss, as you obviously prefer Ms (we don't really need to go into the reasons why, do we?) Now, on this darling form, sit merely two options: Miss, or Mr. Said form demands that you tick the appropriate box. Since Ms is Miss/ Mrs contracted, I suppose Miss is technically correct. On principle, however, I hate to have to use Miss.

This is quite an important form, which does actually exist. And, surprise surprise, it also needs filling in soon. Do I cross out the Miss and write Ms, or resign myself to Miss?

I want to know what you'd do!

Saturday, January 26

Things I have learnt recently include...

  • cherries + fruity red wine = wonderful combination
  • restaurants which shut at 2pm (end of the lunch time slot) actually often shut earlier
  • with some people one can argue, probe, poke, and it can all be okay afterwards (almost immediately)
  • lots of new French and German words
  • that I actually quite like Yeats. (!) Particularly the Cloths of Heaven one, and a few others. (I tried him about a year ago properly, and didn't quite get it. Tried again last night and had to force myself off to bed. Now there are lots of page markers in my copy.)
  • sushi = yum.
  • that I drink a considerable amount more water than most people (through the oh-so-scientific personal surveys...)
  • that I miss France, and speaking French. And I miss being surrounded by people talking about poems
  • receiving mail is really delightful. Especially when it involves poetry which I don't have to pay more than stamps for, which includes lines bits like 'Accident, arrogant. Call it love.'
  • that I would really, really like to have my own swimming pool one day (why do the public ones have stuff shut off for schools, or OAPs so often? They are meant to be encouraging people to swim, not putting them off! Private gyms cost too much, although that would be an alternative for some people, just not me)
  • home made bread = hard crusts (have not yet found a way to avoid this.)
  • that a book of mine which includes my hand-written essays does not seem to be turning up, despite my wishing for it (it will be utterly SHIT if it does not; even more work to do)
  • reorganising books, and reorganising my room in general = very relaxing
  • phone calls are quite helpful. It doesn't matter if you're in your PJs, or have just woken up, or anything like that, because the other person doesn't have to know.
  • if I continue buying/ reading books at my current rate, by the time I am old enough/ financially-stable enough to buy somewhere of my own to live, I will have enough books for a library. How exciting!
  • paperbacks take up substantially less room on my bookcase = good thing!

I am putting this under the tag 'favourite things' because quite a few of these things are included in my favourite things, currently. Which can only be a good thing, right?

Saturday, January 19

Since when did post arrive at 5pm?

Despite crappy postal service, a most wonderful letter has arrived; 'So good to hear from you! What a delightful way to start a new year, I must say. And scented paper too! (I thought it smelt peculiar, so I sprayed it with perfume.) It's good to kow that there are still people in England doing things properly...' Oh yes, killing trees isn't so awful if wonderful letters are made of them... much, much better than email.

The letter gets better:

'Atheism... arrogant, agnosticism is cowardice, theism all too often falls prey to the folly of man...'

and the PS? 'yes... written on pages torn out of my exercise book'. (Nice, weighty paper though, so no complaints.)

Gosh. Exciting getting letters. Especially when you were wondering an hour ago whether they got yours, which was a reply about two months late. (This one will be quicker, I promise myself.)

My PS: then asking about Orwell and Wilde occurs, along with talk of becoming a recluse as a result...

now, I shall go out.

Thursday, January 17

Clare Pollard's Bedtime

Borrowed this from the library. After reading, I'm surprised it hasn't been taken out more. You know when something which you read excited you so much you want to palm it off on people, even people who don't 'do' poetry? That. It gave me a lot of that.

Poetry like this must be good for other people's stomach muscles too. Some of the jokes and innuendo is so obvious, but she manages to get away with it. It's not poetry which is asking to be liked, I don't think. And it is putting on a show. Take a poem named 'Turn of the Screw' – now take it's last line, proudly alone, 'and me all whole beneath the weight of you'. It is poetry which is showing off in a lot of ways, there's no doubt about that, but I like that; she’s risking showing off with the language which includes the ‘mah’ so-and-so of Northern conversation. It's playful, not taking itself too serious, not scared of writing about 'Sky One' in her 'post A-level summer', or that her art was a 'selfish' one.

The poem called 'The Smear Test' could rally with Olds' work, but sounds very much Pollard’s own. And I don't mean that it's predictable, because it's certainly not: I want to say something about her having a voice, rather than sounding like she's trying out different ones but unsure of all of them, only I’m not quite sure how to get this across. Anyway –

She gives us A-level summer confessions, telling of how 'Hometown' is the place she will be glad to walk out of tomorrow, and the pain of a place she tried to make 'something to pine for', though she doesn't sound convinced this happened, plus we have Sonnets about 'childhood certainty I want back'. I love it. It's exciting, it feels real, I can imagine her saying it without having ever heard her reading or speaking, and it’s given me a line I'm determined to get into a certain essay. As for which that is, I'll leave you to guess when you read it yourself.

Wednesday, January 16

Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing is a delightful surprise after Gradgrind, and actually grinding Hard Times' itself into the mental 'swallow-me-up-now-please' ground through going over it. I presume she is the character people told me I would enjoy most... plus, it is delightful to find out that the play is quite short: no lengthy waffle, I hope. I did appreciate studying and analysing Hard Times, yet I can't imagine myself ever choosing to read it purely for pleasure: the time for a change is more than over-ripe, and Shakespearean wit wouldn't go amiss!

Sunday, January 6

[there was a poem here]

[there was a poem here]

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There're a couple of things I'm unsure about this, but I'll wait to say what so I don't influence opinion... anymore than by saying this. Relatively new poem, by the way; only been living for a few weeks.

Friday, January 4

Chance Meetings

For a while now I’ve been wanting to write a post about spontaneously meeting people. You know, meeting people you’ve never met before: new, exciting (or so we hope) people. Thing is, this seems to happen quite frequently. So I think of some stories to retell, some people to try and colour in truthfully, even though I’ve perhaps only spent ten minutes talking with them; but then I get some more stories, and some more. So many that I’m not sure if I can write about them all.

It’s one of the things which makes me happy. Most of us have people close to us who we like to spend time with; people who we can be in hysterics, or crying, or talking, or just sat at ease with. But, often, this takes a while to reach: it’s not something which happens easily. Anyway, I seem to meet a lot of people. I don’t know whether this is because I prefer to, and do smile when I’m happy, or that I say hello to people if they smile at me and live locally (somehow my parents know a lot of people, and so a lot of people know me through them, even though I don’t know them directly…) Or maybe I’m just sociable (when I’m having a good day.)

A couple of days ago, I ended up meeting so many people who were just fantastic that it was actually surprising. I had some great conversations with strangers, and my day could have been really quite shitty if I hadn’t had that. On the way to where I was going, with the taxi driver I chatted about reading, and having too many books so that you run out of space, and having so much paper that it clutters everywhere, and people’s aspirations, and blah like that (although this was mostly provoked by the taxi driver; when I got in the taxi I was in quite a crap mood… you know the sort of mood where you’re determined, stupidly, that ‘today will be a shit day’, because, you know, whatever you’ve got planned really isn’t that pleasant, and of course, that means today will be a shit day… essentially, where your optimism is not even attempting self-revival.) This made me happy. It’s reassuring, when people talk about how, for them, writing is the best escape, one of the greatest pleasures. I had money for the taxi, of course; but I didn’t have enough money. It was a relatively short journey (so he wasn’t earning loads out of it), but he told me to pay him over £2 less than what it was (because otherwise I wouldn’t have enough for the bus) that he didn’t really mind, and that, right now, money didn’t matter too much to him. Kind of reassuring, don’t you think?

After the thing I went to, I had to get the bus. I think I’d just missed one, because I had to wait a while. (Damn, damn de damn…) I ended up, however, chatting – in French – with a French couple who were my age. About trying to decide what to do, about holidays, about needing money, about Poitiers, about Paris, about France VS England…

The bus came. I didn’t have enough money for the bus; it was a different service to the one I typically use. Kindly, I was let off about £1.30, which meant I could get home (it was way too far to walk). On the bus, a woman began talking to me, who I discovered is an artist, speaks French and German, and lives locally (hopefully I’m going to go and have a look at some of her work sometime.)

A lot of the people most important to me now, or who have inspired me a lot, have been people I’ve met spontaneously, as a surprise. A lot have been people I’ve met on trains, or planes, or simply who’ve asked me about what book I was reading (often whilst on a train)… It’s not surprising to meet people you click with if you’re visiting places of common interest, I suppose, like a particular art gallery, or being in a certain section of the library… though I still find it encouraging. Despite all the shit out there, and all the people who shun things which are fantastic (or at least, for me, fantastic), there also exists those who are interesting, intriguing, and generous.

PS: I recently saw The Kite Runner. My recommendation goes out for everyone to see this film. http://www.kiterunnermovie.com/ I managed to see it in a fantastic, small cinema; you could hear the rest of the audience crying. I was surprised it's only rated a 12 (it is brutally violent in parts), and it is strongly a sad film, but it needs to be seen. If you are thinking about going to see a film - or even if you're not - make the choice to go and see this.