Saturday, 5 January 2013

Gathered on a Heading.

Gathered on a Heading
Another year sucked quietly from the blood (Kenneth Slessor, Captain Dobbin).  I don’t know who’s out there, but I hope we all had a jolly good Christmas and it was a joyful start to the new-year, and your resolution is to make 2013 the best year yet in which to progress your poetry.  The end of 2012 was a milestone for me in my writing – I had set myself a goal to have enough material written to home publish – no, I don’t mean ‘self publish’, I mean A4 pages double-sided copy on the B&W photocopier at work, stapled with Rexel 24 staples and bound with black duct tape.  The added incentive I set myself in order to complete this task was to give a copy to all the people I know who might expect to receive a Christmas gift from me.  Being who I am, that didn’t extend to a whole lot of people beyond my immediate family, so the place I work wasn’t deprived of too much of my time and that old photocopier hardly worked up a sweat.

Sometimes as an amateur poet I feel I write purely because I must write (Bukowski – so you want to be a writer).  But what is the point of writing stuff that nobody will ever read, even as an amateur hobbyist?  Ask yourself that question and it opens up a whole lot more issues – who is my audience, or who do I want my audience to be?  what do they want from me?  how do I assemble and present what I’ve got?  Oh yeah, the person who has no need for an audience, now that person is a pure artist.

So every now and then I feel I’ve got to gather up what I’ve done and present it in some published form.  That’s why I’m going with a theme in the titles – my first collection I called, Gathered in my Wake.  I had all this stuff I had written over many years in the Navy and from reflecting on life.  The work was done retrospective to my putting it together in a book – the writing was back there in my wake.  My second collection of verse and poetry is titled, ‘Gathered on a Heading’.  Having written enough for one publication wasn’t the end of it.  I was still writing.  But what do you call a sequel to ‘looking behind’?  ‘Looking ahead, a heading is pretty obvious.  That does leave me pondering if I haven’t perhaps painted myself into a corner when I think, well I’m still writing and one day I’m sure I’ll have enough work for a third volume.

In my two publications I’ve kept the naval, maritime theme in the title.  This sometimes concerns me that it’s too narrow a descriptive of what I write about.  Though I do assemble my poems under sub publication headings, Local & Domestic Headings for family and personal stuff; On the Way to Making a Living for things about work; Ships at Sea & Wanderings for going back to my time in the Navy, and Spiritual Headings for personal reflection.

I must admit, I felt pleased within myself when I wrapped individual copies of Gathered on a Heading in Christmas wrapper and imagined the recipients enjoying the flow and challenge of my words.  Feedback?  Nothing really…..  except from my mum who unsolicited, said, “I thought this one was better than the first one”.  Hey, I’m taking that as a clear sign of ‘getting better’, either that or I’ve cleaned up my language.

My poem for this post is selected to start the year light-hearted, Got Boat Shoes.  It appears early in Gathered on a Heading and it's influence comes from an old copy of Bab Ballads that I've got in my book collection. I do enjoy the very ‘British’ voice and the limerick style of humour.
2012.  I really do try to take fashion advice, but it don’t never seem to work out.

Got Boat Shoes 

She said I should buy a nice pair,
of those boat shoes they wear,
down at the yacht club (I don’t yacht),
neither does Paul (but he tries to be trendy),
I really could see myself posed,
in a new pair of those, so I did (Sebago’s),
but it requires they be worn
in a naked feet form (without socks),
and the skin on my ankles got torn,
she said, other men,
don’t seem to find, it a prob-a-lem.
I returned to old joggers (Adidas soft leather),
used mainly in walking the hound,
much better,
than boat shoes all round,
but they got stolen, somehow,
she said now,
what will you do,
for a new walking shoe,
joggers are not, in-expens-a-tive.
But of course, do not frown,
I’m still walking the hound (dog doesn’t care),
if I happen to wear,
Adidas, or Sebago shoes,
she sniffs and she licks at the fashionable gems,
.... and the mud on the trail, soft-en-ers them.
                                                         J. O. White

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