The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

Hello everyone! How has your week been? This week has been a week of though-provoking classes. In my Representing Contemporary Cultures module we have moved onto looking at 9/11 – how the way it was represented through the media and literature affects how people discuss and even perceive what happened. It got me thinking – how long a gap is necessary before literature can truly deal with such a world-changing event? This week’s poem is Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath which was published posthumously in 1965 in the collection Ariel. In it she connects holocaust imagery with the oppression she feels because she is not allowed to die – despite her multiple attempts. The gap between the events she draws upon and the poems publication is twenty years – yet we still feel the enormity of her meaning today. All the literature and even the films about 9/11 are still in their nascent stages compared to this, will it take a longer passage of time before language can truly express people’s feelings surrounding  9/11 and the events that happened as a result?

The Sunday Poet #6

Lady Lazarus – Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

The Sunday Post #6

What I’ve read…

  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath: I’ve loved this collection of poetry ever since I first encountered it. The poem I included above is really haunting, not just because of its references to the Holocaust but because I read it as a woman eating/removing the doctors that treat her as if she were something precious so that the next time she tries, she might finally die.
  • Black Dogs by Ian McEwan: this was recommended by a fellow student on my MA course when we were discussing books that defined an era. It follows the story of a once-married couple, how their different world views caused them to separate and how the terrifying vision that the wife had on their honeymoon caused this irreparable divide.
  • Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess: I’m sure hundreds of other people have bought this book for the very same reason that I have –the best first sentence ever. ‘It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.’ I’ve only just begun this very long novel but I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

And the rest…

Another fairly quiet week on the news front for me! I’ve been researching a lot, beginning to think of the essays that I will be handing in just after Christmas and what work needs doing before I crack on with the writing. However last night me and the boyfriend did end up going to an incredibly good night at one of our local bars – despite being billed to me by the boyfriend as ‘80’s goth’ when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of 80’s punk and alternative being played. It reminded me of being a teenager and listening to my dad’s CDs all over again. So yeah, if you are in Manchester and think that might be your jam – have a look at their webpage and head on over! You’ll see me there dancing like a loon in the corner 🙂

Becqui

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The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #5

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #5

This week has passed by in a blur of work and studying; I was determined to knuckle down his week and I feel pretty happy with what I’ve got done. Thursday and Friday were spent watching films (for research obviously!) and reading copious amounts of books on New Queer Cinema for my independent study module. I was in that groove where things click together in your mind, was feeling really energised and excited about my work so when I was trying to think of a poem for this week, wanted to find something that captured that feeling for me. Now, the poem that I’ve chosen is nothing to do with studying – however it reminds me of hours spent researching and reading. The poet, John Berryman, was the subject of one of my undergrad final assignments and after initially finding his poems infuriating – critically analysing them resulted in one of my most highly marked pieces of work.

This poem comes from a collection named The Dream Songs, and each poem within provides a fragmented glimpse of the whole. They combine baby talk, a minstrel show and a whole host of disembodied voices to be amusing and tragic at the same time. It is impossible to read them without being reminded of the events that marked Berryman’s own life: his father’s suicide , Berryman’s alcohol abuse, battle with depression and own eventual suicide.

The Sunday Poet #5

John Berryman – Dreamsong #14

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored,
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as archilles,

who loves peoples and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sky or sea, leaving
behind: me, wag.

The Sunday Post #5

What I’ve read…

  • The Girl With all The Gifts by M.R.Carey: ok, so I might have been a bit keen with reading this one as it is for book-club which isn’t for over a week away! In TGWATG humanity has been almost wiped out by a parasitic fungal infection; those who are infected (‘hungries’) prey on the flesh of the remaining humans and are little more than walking mouths. However there seems to be a mid-way camp, infected children who retain all of their brain function and can talk and learn, yet still have the appetite for human flesh. It is up to a research team led by Caldwell to discover if these children are they key to a cure.

What I’ve watched…

  • My Own Private Idaho (1992) directed by Gus Van Sant: This film explores a friendship between Mike (River Pheonix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves) two young men who are living rough, and working as rent boys on the streets of Portland.
  • The Living End (1992) directed by Gregg Araki: I’m going to tentatively say that as part of my MA I am going to write about this one! It’s a brilliant pastiche of different styles of cinema, all delivered with a tongue in cheek attitude – that scarcely conceals the depths of meaning. Two HIV positive men go on a roadtrip, with a fuck the world attitude and a need to explore death.
  • Doomsday (2008) directed by Neil Marshall: Me and the boyfriend had a cosy Saturday night with a bottle of wine and this film – and it was bloody brilliant. Doomsday is like an apocalyptic sci-fi with a dose of grindhouse styling. Scotland gets hit with the ‘Reaper’ virus, aptly named because it cuts swathes through the population. In order to prevent the spread, the UK decides to wall off Scotland, and mine the coasts – effectively abandoning the people to the virus. Fast forward thirty years and the virus resurfaces in London. Meanwhile the government, who have been keeping an eye on Scotland, have seen evidence of survivors in Glasgow. They make the decision to send a team in, to try and find survivors and a cure.

And the rest…

To be perfectly honest, this has been a quiet week – apart from the reads and the films that I have seen listed above! One thing I have been enjoying is that autumn seems to have finally arrived here in Manchester and the leaves are turning to beautiful colours, meaning that it is soon to be Halloween and Bonfire Night – oh how I love autumn!

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All these autumnal photos I have unashamedly re-posted from my Instagram! 

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #2

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #2

The Sunday Poet #2

This week’s poem comes from Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets, which I bought for my course then slightly regretted when I could find all the material I needed on-line. However I haven’t even used it for studying yet and I’ve already fallen in love with it – great range and variety of poets included, and it is also a surprisingly purse-friendly size for an anthology! And that is important for someone who carries a tome of poetry at all times. Anyway this poem is a little bit of whimsy, because when don’t we need that?

PugNick Laird

i.

Bruiser, batface, baby bear,

bounce in your moon suit

of apricot fur with some fluff

in your mouth or a twig or a feather.

Emperors bored you.

You with the prize-winning ears,

who grew from a glove

to a moccasin slipper

and have taken to secrecy

recently, worming in

under the furniture.

To discover you here

Is to keep still and listen.

The settee begins wheezing.

                                                                          ii.

Hogarth loved the fact

that for your first half-year

you hardly differed from a rabbit.

When you’re over-excited

you tend to get hiccups.

You squeak when you yawn

and your tongue is unfurled

in a semi-circle, salmon-pink

on coastal rock, that trilobite

embedded in the slate

roof of your open mouth,

perfect for the mascot

of the House of Orange.

Your weapon of choice is the sneeze.

iii.

Above the winter garden

a hair-thin moon, reflecting.

You are as open as a haiku,

All karumi, hint and sigh.

The Buddha would’ve liked you.

Watch us from your separate dream

then pad across to clamber through

the plastic flap and plant your paws

four-square again on grass, like this.

Your hackles bristle and you ridge

your back and bark and bark and bark,

at shadows and the fence,

at everything behind the fence,

the cuttings and the railway foxes.

pugs

I couldn’t resist including a picture of these cheeky critters! Thanks Google for providing me with hours of entertainment searching “pugs in costumes”!

The Sunday Post #2

What I’ve read…

And the rest…

This week actually involved another trip to Manchester Food and Drink Festival, to see a friend of ours and his band play. Naturally this involved another round of yummy food – this time from Viet Shack. I’ve been meaning to try their food for absolutely ages now, and it was well worth the wait! I plumped for lemongrass chicken, which was deliciously smoky, served over noodles and a lovely fresh carrot salad with chilli, mint and basil. For a naughty evening out I was impressed with how restrained I was food wise! This week also heralded the official start of my MA – with an induction meet and greet over all the English courses. It was really lovely to meet people before actually starting the course, and to also get a glimpse into what other people will be studying over the year. Next week the teaching starts properly and I am so so excited! How was everyone else’s week? What have you been reading?

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #1.

Happy weekend everyone! I’m still new to this whole blogging malarkey and posting regularly hasn’t been my strong point. I noticed lots of people have a certain post or theme that they run with every week, so I thought if I do that it might make me post more consistently.  I also wanted to be posting more than just book reviews on here, as I read a lot more widely then the fiction I’ve been sharing. So every Sunday I will be sharing a poem that encapsulates my week along with a little update of what I’ve been up to and what I’ve been reading. I hope you like these posts; do let me know either way!

The Sunday Poet #1

Demi-Jour en Creuse – René Char

Un couple de renards bouleversait la neige,
Piétinant l’orée du terrier nuptial:
Au soir le dur amour révèle à leurs parages
La soif cuisante de miettes de sang.

Translation by Nancy Naomi Carlson

A pair of foxes, disrupting the snow,
Were trampling the edge of the nuptial den:
At dusk, their hard love reveals to surrounding brush
Their burning thirst in crumbs of blood.

René Char is a French surrealist poet, whom I greatly admire. I became interested in his work through the philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault who cites him in several of his texts. The poem I’ve included above was included in Foucault’s funeral – I’m not sure if it was read out or just as a memorial, but I really love it – and enjoy the connection between two writers that I admire. I’ve been thinking about René Char this week as I am currently preparing for starting my MA and sorting through all my notes from my degree found several lines from this scribbled down. If you like it then definitely look up some more of his poems, they are so haunting and interesting to read.

The Sunday Post #1.

What I’ve read…

  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory by Nikki Sullivan : again preparing to return to university expect to see a lot of this theoretical stuff cropping up. I think this is a great introduction to anyone studying or just interested in queer theory as it breaks the topic down into easily digestible chapters.
  • Modern Nature by Derek Jarman: I’ve nearly finished reading these haunting journals which are written after he discovers he is HIV positive and decides to make a garden for his cottage upon the coast of Dungeness. Expect a review shortly!

And everything else…

I’ve been working loads at the café this week, trying to cram in as many hours as possible before returning to uni – need those pennies for the millions of books I’m going to buy! However we had some friends staying with us so on Saturday night took a little wander to Manchester Food and Drink Festival. There was a great atmosphere and it was so much busier than I expected it to be – also the weather perked up whilst we were there so we caught some lovely evening sunshine. I had a “Festival Dog” from The Splendid Sausage Company which was possibly the most incredible thing I have ever eaten – a locally produced sausage topped with bacon, black pudding and Lancashire cheese and then onions in Vimto chutney. Truly decadent, but as a lass who hates hotdogs – I have to say they have converted me.

I’ll leave you with a snap of the Town Hall from that evening, hope you enjoyed catching up with my week.

Becqui

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Dig the City – Manchester’s urban gardening festival.

Dig the City – Manchester’s urban gardening festival!

Recently I moved from  a ground floor flat with a massive garden that attracted all kinds of wildlife into a city centre flat with no outdoor space. Luckily it does have massive windows and captures the sun, so lately in lieu of my own outdoor plot I have become obsessed with my little house plants. I also love getting out into the green spaces of Manchester, and  therefore was extremely excited to find out that Dig the City – Manchester’s urban gardening festival was back for another year!

This festival sees the creation of beautiful urban gardens amongst the bustle of the city centre, there are little art, craft and of course – flower markets as well as outdoor bars and live music. There are loads of events on for families, the National Trust were exploring 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ and on the days I visited there were loads of children busy making mudpies and making the most of a very windy day by flying colourful hand-made kites. Stockley Farm in the City were also keeping the children entertained over near Manchester Cathedral – I think the novelty of having animals you could pet just minutes away from the shops was keeping many adults entertained too!

However, a personal highlight for me was the colour that this festival brought to the city centre. Not only did the festival create some beautiful spaces, transforming features of the city into blooming delights but it felt as if the whole city centre contributed. All the pubs and restaurants revived their hanging baskets, and many of the shops created floral window displays. For a girl missing her own green space the city was transformed into a whimsical oasis full of magical surprises.

Anyway, I think that’s enough wittering on… here’s some pictures!

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These photos are from a lovely Show Garden, which was based upon optical illusions. The grids of greenery on the floor led back to a sky scape of Manchester – whilst hidden amongst the mossy walls were peepholes lined with mirrors. Looking through these created a kaleidoscopic effect – which you can see below.

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  I was inspired by the hanging baskets throughout the festival, in particular these ones which used unusual objects to house plants.

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IMG_2858Not only were there flowers growing out of items such as boots and teapots hanging from the lampposts, but if you took a closer look amongst the greenery in the pots there were hidden items there too. I love how the pale china contrasts with the glossy colours!

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Finally, I will leave you with a lovely picture of a piano sprouting with colourful blooms! Are any of you heading to Dig the City? I think I will be heading down tomorrow for a last wander before it all packs down. If you want to see more beautiful pictures of everything going on you can catch them on Twitter: @digthecitymcr

Becqui

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