The Poet at Play 3 – Working with Metaphors

Image by June Perkins

This week I have been playing with metaphors.  Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.

Some metaphors  have been so used that they have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity.   I have to strive for originality.  But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.

I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.

My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside camps (prisons?) and separated from their children.

Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be trusted to make their way through.

There are famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall (which one day came tumbling down) and literary walls, like Humpty Dumpty’s wall which he fell from.

As for doors, literature is full of portals, doorways, that take us elsewhere.  Often the doors are hidden and disguised, just think the magic wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. But there is also the entry to the magical places of Harry Potter at the station, Hogwartz can’t be reached without knowing how to go through the portal.

 

gateflickr.jpg
From Geson Ratnow, Flickr

Now how does one make ones way through a door, I think of the Trojan Horse.

My mind begins to think do people still fear the Trojan Horse, and has this somehow rid people of compassion.  They think that everything must not be what it seems, but is always in disguise; a disguise that has bite, a disguise that will destroy.

 

trojanhorse.jpeg

So now with some of this thinking done, I have some things I can allude to, some ideas about gates and doors,  some emotions I want to draw on, and a current happening in the world that frustrates me and I hope we can change.

Now for a poetry first draft to bring this all together.

People still
fear
the Trojan horse

Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying

It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
borders

We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
citizens

Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
falling down,
down,
down

toppling
from the wall
they installed

Oh for a portal
to compassion
hidden somewhere
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up

When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?

I’ll keep working on this poem and see what eventuates.

It is a beginning and I am working with this one to let the subject dictate the shape and direction of the poem.

Questions I ask myself after a first draft like this:

  1. Am I being a little didactic (lecturing) here?  Is that okay?
  2. In what ways can I improve the poem’s lineation?
  3. Can I think also about protest songs and bring their intertextuality in ?
  4. Will this poem be part of a series of poems?
  5. What other research, including visual research, can I do to reflect on gates, doors, walls etc?
  6. Which of the metaphors here can be extended?
  7. Words for gate in other languages?

(c) June Perkins, words and top image.

 

Towards Spaces Beyond

Butterflies on the wall, a new creation by artists
calls the People of this city to turn towards
the spaces beyond

“Darkness hath encompassed every land, O my God, and caused most of Thy servants to tremble. I beseech Thee, by Thy Most Great Name, to raise in every city a new creation that shall turn towards Thee, and shall remember Thee amidst Thy servants…”
-Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations

(c) poetry words and image June Perkins.  This first appeared on Nineteen Months

The Poet at Play 2 – ‘Dream’ in many languages

I was writing a poem today, and wanted to name a character.

For inspiration I looked at an old poem of mine, and borrowed its structure, but then the poem soon had a life of its own.  Sorry can’t tell you which one, as it is top secret.

I decided that I wanted the character’s name to be significant to the topic.

Perhaps ‘Dream’ in another language would be appropriate, so I found a website to help me.

It has so many beautiful sounding words for DREAM.

Here are some of the words for dream that also seem to me like wonderful names.

There is something so musical about them.

You can find the language they are from by visiting the link  IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Sanjati
Ala
Sognare
Ruya

The other thing that I find inspires poems are things of beauty I see, like the tree image shared for this blog.

I have written a few poems based on it, but what would you write about this tree?

It has an interesting true story, in that is was destroyed by a cyclone.

Yet, this image will always fill me with joy and make me want to dance.

But it is also a tree of my imagination now and a place where an adventure might begin.

The tree is a place for stories of the make believe.

 

(c) Words and Image June Perkins

 

The Poet at Play 1

Read how I create this new work from an earlier poem

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

Pearlz Dreaming

I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s Writing Experiments.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have…

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Beyond Prejudice

 

Image: Shirren Lim, Flickr

I refuse to see myself
through your eyes
to let your lens
become my disguise.
I won’t give in
to its stereotype.
I won’t become your lie.
My wish for freedom
will not die.

You strip me back
to my bones
classify me
by skin tones.
I am more than my skin;
If you look deeper
you could be kin.
I cut you adrift
deflect the hurt
you sought to give
so I can simply live.

After I have healed
from your slight
I send out a light
to shade us both.

I won’t become your lie.
My wish for freedom
will not die.

(c) June Perkins

Country Boys and Country Girls

Image by June Perkins

A song lyric

Country boys and country girls
dream more than sugar cane.
Country boys and country girls
want more than endless rain.

They’re picking stars from skies above.
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight.
They’re running to the canopies
of light.

Country boys and country girls
often hide their pain
but they’re still holding
onto all their dreams
looking into the firelight
to find the global streams.

They’re picking stars from skies above
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight
They’re running to the canopies of light.

Country boys and country girls
often leave these towns
‘cause when the pickings done
there’s too few jobs around
and when a cyclone’s been
it’s even harder still
but now they’ve just got to
have a stronger will.

So they’re leaving behind the sugar cane
they’re saying goodbye
to endless rain
And they’re still looking
for the canopies of light.

Country boys and country girls
they’ve long left these towns
and now they’re longing
for that precious rain,
picking up the pieces of their lives
dancing under starlit skies.

They’re dreaming of the sugar cane
and they’re longing for the precious rain
and they’re still looking
for the canopies of light.

They’re picking stars from skies above.
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight.

They’re running to
the canopies of light.

(c) June Perkins

Literature Bird – Write Me a Poem

Magic Fish Dreaming

Literature Bird, by Geson Rathnow

This bird of paper and feathers
sings, ‘Write me a poem
make me from words or letters
on my body like
grans
mer att.

Perhaps imagine
my textures
stone, feather
paper maiche
and find poetic
ways to make someone feel me
through your words.

Maybe you love shape poems
and will make you poem
just like a wing
or a feather.

Maybe think of other literature
birds
like Edgar Allan Poe’s Raven
or a sparrow with Thumbelina
or a bird that your gran likes?

Maybe I am nothing like those birds
or perhaps I am just the same?
Compare me.

Do you know a famous poet
who likes to call for me everyday?
Perhaps we can have a conversation?

Perhaps you could imagine how I might
sing.
Does my bird song sound like this att att
mer mer?

Do you have a chorus for me,

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Grey and White

Maria Popova – Flickr Creative Commons

Grey and white streaks
begin to lace themselves
through my hair.
I embrace
the signs of wisdom
chasing through me there,

And all around me others
dye and tease their hair
to conceal their age
but that is their affair.

I don’t mind that they want to do this
and hold onto their esteem
but why does one say to me
‘You should dye your hair
you look so ancient and so old’

I explain to her
‘when I was younger
I looked younger than my age
and am happy to embrace
the white and grey that now
dance through my life.’

She cannot take a hint
and simply doesn’t understand
I don’t need a bottled colour
to conceal the process I’m now in
and now she wants to know
the colour of my youth.

Why do so many worship
forever staying young?

I am happy to see silver starlight
in my hair.
It doesn’t make me blue
to become an ancient woman
with an ancient wisdom.

When did aging gracefully
become so easily scorned
and not needing a disguise
become so fervently despised?

I take the process of my life
and seek an inner dye
where my soul’s forever dancing
outside my body’s time.

(c) June Perkins, words