Monday, 29 September 2014

Impressions of Storm and Golden Sky Seven

Can't believe this has been the seventh SAGS meeting already (sounds a bit Tolkeiny if you lexicise the acronym like that...). I've not been to all of them, but have enjoyed the ones I've gotten to and can say that so far they've succeeded in their aim of creating, "a literary experience felt in your bones as juxtaposition and surprise correspondence." I'm sure they'll continue to do so too. Anyhoo, on with the impressions...

First off, Eleanor Rees read a poem with Welsh flavour in honour of Sophie McKeand's presence. I hope Tom Jenks wasn't upset that a Manchester poem wasn't read in his honour! Joking aside, I very much enjoyed Eleanor's piece. In some ways I'm biased towards poetry that has the sea/seaside as its focus (same goes for whisky. If you want to buy me a bottle, Oban 14 please!). Being from Morecambe, things that genuinely evoke the uniquely harsh beauty found on a shoreline is very poignant for me. Bias aside, her poem's existential themes and delicious sonic qualities added up to make an objectively positive poem.

Next, Mrs McKeand. As something of a linguist, I'm fascinated with language and was impressed with her work. What struck me about her poems was the way they struck hard at the root (please pardon pun) of linguistic ontology, but in a natural way, that is to say, not dryly academic. I would say 'it wasn't stuffy', which is true, nonetheless, but I prefer 'natural', which is more in keeping with the breathing soul of poetry than the textbook. Anyway, I'm going round in circles here... Her use of the Welsh language was subtle and created a compelling conversation on hi/story/-ies.

Next was Mr Jenks. Y'all should know him from his work at The Other Room. His Twitter-based poem demonstrated a more processually experimental bent than the other poetry on offer. I don't know how much I should say, since some of the poetry hasn't been published yet (that's another reason for all of you out there to go to your local readings - new and exclusive content, everyone's dream!). First off - ab-solutely hi-larious. I was actually crying with laughter. I've not done that since... Well... I don't have a soul so I don't normally laugh at anything, apart from perhaps unspeakable evil. Or Matt Baker's one-liners.

Jenks' symphony of surreal imagery, deadpan delivery and sparingly rattly sounds made for a thoroughly entertaining treat for the open mind, a pleasure for the ears and a workout for the yuck-muscles ('yuck' as in 'laugh', not as in 'urgh'). Maybe (well, almost definitely) it's just because I'm a massive fan Beatles fan and went sightseeing around the Cavern Quarter right before going to the reading, but I feel compelled to compare Jenks' part of the night to 'Octopus's Garden'. We were submersed in a colourfully strange world, both comforting and threatening (remember "below the storm") and warmly amusing. So yeah, like 'Octopus's Garden', if it had a social-comment edge possibility, and was actually good (only joking Ringo! Love you really. Ringo?).

Peace and love folks.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Continuing On From

[dated 17.6.2014, minus minor revisions]

I'm sure you're all ravenous for more analysis of my journal journey. THIS was my last post on the matter.

I'm now past the two-hundred and fifty page mark, though the paper i'm writing on now has fewer lines than the pages in the original pad (admit it, you love this kind of enthralling and entirely necessary detail...) so that's not as impressive as it may sound (heavy stress on the 'may'). My discipline is definitely getting better. I think the longest i've gone without writing up is probably three or four days (if work, drunkenness/hangover or total lethargy has stepped in) which isn't too bad, especially when you consider the three-week period i let slip last time...

Again i'd like to iterate that i feel this habit has increased my prolific-ness. Although, thinking about it, that's a pretty ill-evidenced statement - i'm only concentrating on the positive evidence... But take, for example, a new novel i started. I had a few days where my discipline was great - writing bits of it on consecutive days rather than sporadically. That being said, there are many days, i suppose, where the journal is all i write. So perhaps i'm not writing more fiction, for example, but at least you can say that i'm writing more in general.

One of the things i've noticed about my development as i'm writing is greater awareness of structure. What i mean is, there have been times where the process of recollection was so laboured that my brain was focused solely on the act of writing. Now, however, i increasingly find myself so at ease with the tasks of remembering and writing, that my brain can add the task of structuring into the mix. In 'real terms', this means setting things up to create more drama (i.e. "i'll get to x later") and stuff. Plus there's the increased playfulness with the narrative voice, inviting more concerns over authenticity and madness of the narrator, so that's nice.

It's akin to things i've felt in fiction before. It used to be the case that i could only focus on the writing, and my thoughts progressed ponderously, but with more and more practise it became the case that i could think forward and backward through the story and come up with spanners for the works, etc, as i was in the act of scribbling it down.

You may ask the question; is the journal actually hindering production of other pieces? I don't think so. I think that's a question of overall attitude, not a directly blameable thing. There have been other projects and whatnot - they may not be all steaming ahead, but slow and steady may win the race (i bloody hope so anyway...). I'm keeping going every now and again with the HashtagBeer reviews, though i've let the dust settle on Blogtastic lately (it's been nearly three weeks since i last posted. That's rare, even for me), i've been trying hard with my university assignment Ontolangue (poetry), trying to keep reading plenty (A Clockwork Orange, Chess and some Mansfield stories) and whatnot. Overall effort is good, i guess. I'm not satisfied with it, but not too disappointed.

The main problem for me at the moment is, of course, the World Cup. I'm not trying to excuse myself, i realise this is a choice i'm making, but i'm basically watching six hours of football a day, which makes writing time harder to come by. What a great spectacle though, especially that Nederlands game. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Nederlands v Germany final.

Anyways, i'm not really talking about the journal anymore am i? What else is there to say? Just that i'll keep on going, i suppose. You can see i'm always trying to be aware of what's going on in terms of my writing and other life events. I hope that's going to prove to be recipe for success, as opposed to a recipe for faecal cake. Believe me, they don't taste as nice as they sound...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

An End

Today I handed in my MA dissertation ('manuscript' as it is better known in Creative Writing...). It represents not only the culmination of many years of work and thought, but also probably the final university assignment I'll ever hand in. I love education and 'the' educational process, but for me a PhD represents going on to teach, so, aside from the money argument, I don't think a PhD is for me. Plus, if you're wondering, though I love the idea of teaching, I'm not responsible enough. Or talented enough, lol.

I've written before about how certain times of year, representing for us Western further-educationeers beginnings and endings of major cyclical significance, bring to mind past memories as well as future hopes and anxieties. Well this time, as I handed in my collection of poetry titled 'Ontolangue', I didn't really feel the heaviness of the situation. I mean, sure, there was the anxiety of the fact that I've handed in a big part of my life and I don't think it's of a great standard, but for the future that I can be in control of, there's nothing. There's just 'freedom'.

Aside from the household/personal issues I'm dealing with, and searching for a job, I have a degree of freedom that's unparalleled since before I started my MA two years ago. Back then, I surprised myself how professional I was, reading regularly and writing often. I'm keen to get back to this 'open plan' living. I have to catch up on my diary project (that I intentionally suspended while Ontolangue was finished), but am looking forward to my 'itty bitty poetry', my sci-fi fiction and, y'know, all the stuff that pops up when you think you're in control.

Socially this means a lot of meeting up with friends (so beware! If I know where you live I'll be paying you a visit), watching all the footy I can and hopefully re-going to readings, especially Storm and Golden Sky, which I was enjoying before certain shits hit certain fans.

Hey, the future's pretty bright. Let's look forward!

Peace and love,

Martin x

[Dated 1.9.2014]