Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Monday, 27 October 2008

Drowning men and dead poems

Rejection is hard to take. Let's face it, no one likes to be rejected. But there's something worse. And that's the look on your kid's face when they've been rejected, they've not got the part in the school play or they've not been picked as class monitor or Belinda has decided she'd rather go out with Gary. It really doesn't matter what the situation is, you feel for them.

My dad used to collect me at the end of the day and drive me home from school – Primary School – and one day I had a falling out with my best friend who wanted to fight me and, not wanting to fight him, I fled to the back gate and the safety of my dad's car. The crowd that followed were suitably disappointed especially when my father, being who he was, decided to lecture the assembled mob about the wrongs of fighting. Embarrassing? Tell me about it. But there was worse. After said lecture did he not kick me out of the back of the car to fight my best friend just to show I wasn't a coward. My best friend, for the record, was built like a rake and I was by far the biggest and strongest kid in my class so all I did was stop him hitting me for five minutes before my dad broke up the sad excuse for a fight and drove me home.

If your house was on fire, what would you run in to save? Luckily my daughter doesn't live with me although I miss her terribly (now we'll see if she really reads my blog) so I wouldn't have to rush in to save her but I would run back into a burning building to try and save my writing.

Consider what these various writers have said about their work:

Kurt Cobain: All my songs are like my children, all have different personalities and characteristics

Kate DiCamillo: My books are like my children. I see them as deeply flawed, but loveable anyway. I can’t pick a favourite. I love them differently, but equally.

Maria Elyse: I realized that my poems are like my children. (Not that I have any children…but say if I did.) When it comes down to it, I love them because they are a part of me. However, like children, they definitely have their moments when they: annoy, upset, embarrass, anger and torture me.

Adrienne Rich: My poems are like children; you have them and you’re working on them, and then they go out into the world and they’re themselves and they’re not you anymore.

All this started me thinking about people and their relationship to their writing.

On the now defunct BBC Get Writing website I ran across this by a writer I can only identify as fayween:

I have been unlucky in my life, as I have no children to grieve my passing when it comes. Perhaps my poems are my children. A tribute to the fact that I have lived. A sad tribute indeed but proof that once I walked upon this earth. The fickle heart soon forgets and moves to other thoughts. Memories fade into the sameness of oblivion. If I could just write one poem or piece of prose that captures the mind and the imagination of men perhaps in this I can live on. If not I will be fodder for others poems, for future flowers and unwept tears.

It's quite poetic on its own I have to say but it's interesting to compare this to what the redoubtable – and also childless – Dolly Parton has to say about her songs:

Yeah. I grew up hard but I think people appreciate that you love your parents and you love your family. I do and I’ve been very blessed. So that’s that little song but they’re all special. I always say they’re like my children and I expect them to support me when I’m old — and some of them are. – Dolly Parton, The Sun, 13th Dec 2007

Sadly not all children survive. Teachers talk about "killing your babies" which is a gruesome image but I suppose it's meant to underline how hard it can be to let go of those cool lines or plot twists. In an article appropriately entitled "Kill Your Babies", Sallyann Keith references author Tony D’Souza:

“Kill your babies” Don’t become infatuated with something you have written. “A writer’s greatest tool is the waste basket.” Let the story be what it needs to be, not what you need to make it. Let it go. – Writers Forum

It's hard. I have so many cool quotes that I could've put in this article but how many are really needed for you to get my point?

I, of course, have been writing poetry long enough that it was only a matter of time before I wrote about this:



The poem came back today.

"Why won't you write me ?"
it asked.

"What use am I in your head ?

"They won't start to like you
even if you hide me, besides,
I'll glare out of your eyes
at them.

"And what'll you do then ?

"I will be born.
One way or another.
And you will love me."


Finally I gave in
and wrote the poem too soon
and it lay on the page
twisted and malformed.

"Dad - help me," it cried
and I went to tear it up.

But I couldn't do it.


"What sex am I ?"
the poem asked.

"You are a boy."

"Then there is life in me.
I shall go and sleep
with a virgin mind."


My poem came home today.

"Dad - nobody understands me.
I don't think they even like me."

"Don't worry son -
they don't understand me either."

30 March 1989

When an editor rejects your submission who exactly are they rejecting? Talking about your work as your offspring is one thing but it does also distance you from the work. They're rejecting the work, not me. It's like when you say to a disobedient child: "I don't hate you, I hate the things you do." But is there a difference in a kid's head?

We think about our writing as something that's come out of us and kids come out of us, right? So does pee and poo and sweat and tears and pus and sputum and sebum and earwax and dander. We shout at our kids and our wives, our dogs and the TV and our words won't come back, they're gone, out there, we can't take them back any more than we can reattach our hair or toenail clippings.

Part of me thinks of my writing as something that gets discarded or shed on the way. A lot of work usually goes into ridding myself of it – it can be a painful process – and when I'm done I don't need to go back and re-examine those issues. Let me illustrate.

Several times in my life I've found myself working on sequences of poems. The reason for this is that I've not been able to fully express or explore the issue in the first poem. One of these sequences was 'The Drowning Man' poems. The first poem in the sequence is 'White Light':


Did you ever think you might have
done it because you wanted to?
she said after.
No need to apologize.

Drowning inside I close my
eyes allowing such feelings
to cover me as will.

Unaware of their names I
open my mouth to the waters.

19 June 1985

Now, it would take too long to explain all the events that led up to me writing this poem (and I'm not sure I want to anyway), but after I'd finished it I knew I'd opened a whole can of worms. I realised that there was in effect a side of me that was struggling with certain emotions, literally drowning in them but never actually drowning.

Over the next five years I chipped away at this problem until I finally reached my Ziggy Stardust moment:


He is undead.
He comes from within
and his name is Hunger.

I bring him women
to help feed him
because their feelings are the strongest.

They give him guilt
and fear
and pain -
now there's a feeling
to sink your teeth into.

25 June 1989

The thing is, now I'm done with all that. The poems have served their purpose. I've worked out what was bothering me and moved on. It's the same with my prose writing. When I was editing my book a few months back I couldn't help but wonder who the guy was that wrote it. I'm not him any more. I've rejected him.

The point I'm making is about the difference between a writer's perceptions of his work than the reader's. I know who I was when I wrote 'White Light' and I can remember roughly what happened in the intervening years. I say 'roughly' because I don't think about that time in my life any more. It's done. I've moved so on since then.

A lot of people will disagree with me. And that's fine. I'm not trying to convert anyone but – as always – I'm hoping what I write will cause people to take a step back and think about they're relationship to their writing. I'm not suggesting for a minute that you burn all the poems you've ever written or flush them down the lavvy pan because they've served their purpose because other people can make something out of them that has nothing to do with you.

I returned to the poem-as-child metaphor a few years ago. A very different poem to 'Sons'. And this is where I'll leave you.


After many years the words returned
bitter at being forgotten so long.

They forced me to write down angry things.
I imagine it must have amused them.

They gutted truth with a single line
and left the corpse for me to dispose of.

And I was actually grateful.
The poem lay dead but I was alive.

There will always be other poems.

5 July 2003


Rachel Fox said...

I've heard that 'poems/writings are like your children' thing loads of times and I tend to just smile politely when people say or type it. Personally I don't feel like that about writing at all. Sure there are a few similarities - you send them out into the world and, to some extent, they have to then fight their own battles (or not...depends on your Dad's philosophy...if you have one...) - but in lots of ways it is such a different process/business/subject. As I think you're saying, I'm not sure it's helpful to think of them as children - not seriously.

So what are they then? Messages? Communication? Proof that we were here? Fun to do? Work? Something we can't help but do? Something to keep us busy? Something to keep us sane? Fascinating? Intoxicating? Friends? Therapy?

All of the above and more. That's why it's so interesting. That's why we can talk about it till the cows come home!

Jim Murdoch said...

My poetry? That's the scuff marks where I've maundered by. If you peer hard enough at it maybe you can divine something in it. I'm done with it. I've shuffled on somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Great blog post Jim. Years ago it would have been a disaster for me to have had all my writing destroyed. Today I'd see it as the chance to have a fresh creative start. I haven't quite worked out why my reaction has changed so much. Maybe I now put the emphasis on the writing process where as I used to make it on the finished thing? Maybe I'm just tougher?

Marion McCready said...

I'm with rachel, I don't think of my poems as my chidren, more like an arm or a leg.

The more I read your poems the more they grow on me. I'm not normally keen on poems about poems but I like all of these. 'Dead Poem' is a strange one, the message seems to be one of triumphalism of the writer over the poem and yet there is an incredible amount of pathos in that last line.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that, Adrian, and I suppose I'm the same as you in that I don't spend a great deal of time looking back at my earlier work. That said, I feel a sentimental attachment to my writing which is why I still have it all; the same cannot be said for my art and music. It wasn't until recently that I started to appreciate that writing was, for me at least, something to be got through and that I felt better afterwards and it was impossible not to think about the whole process in scatological terms. In many instances what I wrote was shit and there is no other word for it, but once it was out of the way I could move on to other things.

The culmination of this line of thought was this rather angry poem:

   Shit Poem

   I don't like reading
    I don't much
            care for writing them either

            but then what's a man
            to do with
            all the shit inside of him?

   I can't say why I
            have to
            lie in it
            or even play with the stuff.

   It just feels good to.
   So what
            are you all

    You can't really believe this is art.

    Sunday, 25 July 2004

Jim Murdoch said...

Hmm, 'triumphalism', eh, Sorlil? Yes, I suppose, but that's not really how that feels. A small victory. A battle won. In this context the writing of a poem is something you survive. The words come, you wrestle with them and, in the midst of the fight, your poems (your babies?) get caught up the fray and are slaughtered. You'll note that I differentiate 'words' and 'poems' and I do this because the words are ongoing, formless; they're something I am struggling with all the time. Poems are casualties. The words survive. I survive. The fight goes on.

Anonymous said...

I suppose we've found many of 'the answers' to the questions we were looking for when we wrote our old stuff.

Like you I can't quite delete my old work. Every now and again I look through it expecting to see an old gem and every time I find there's nothing to see. Move along. It's that 'what if' feeling that once burnt or deleted it's gone forever. I agree with you that sentiment about our old work is largely about nostalgia for the person we used to be. 'Shit Poem' sums it up pretty well.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Hello Jim - very glad to have found your blog after you dropped by. Rejection of your work is all part and parcel of getting it out there - it gets easier (or perhaps we get tougher). The urge to fight your children's battles is a strong one ... these joys still to come as they grow.

Rachel Fox said...

Forgot to say - I keep everything, poems, notes, scribbles, the lot. Sometimes old bits help me write something new. Sometimes old stories help me remember stuff. Sometimes I'm amazed that something I wrote wasn't as bad as I suspected or was told at the time! And sometimes I read an old miserable poem and think 'hurray for not being as miserable as that right now'! Until the next time...

Jim Murdoch said...

The thing about 'Shit Poem', Adrian, is that I'm talking about the good poems too. I don't think of poems as the end product. I'm the end product.

Kate, glad to see you and glad we've found each other. Now I've got another site to read that I've no time for. Ah well. I used to worry a lot more about rejection. It really doesn't affect me like it used to. I update the database and get on with whatever I was doing before I got the news. I don't like everything I read. Truth be told I like very little of what I read so why should I get myself in a state when someone doesn't like this or that piece?

And, Rachel, yes, it really puzzles me that I tossed my art and music because I am a wee hoarder. I also had a bunch of what I can best describe as comedy tapes that are gone forever and I would have loved Carrie to have seen that side of me. But there you go.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I know exactly what you mean.

Beth said...

What a good post. I do agree with you - my old writing is sort of a curiosity to me, to remember who I was then (a week, a year, two decades ago) but I've moved on.

As both an editor and a writer, I do know what it feels like to have my own work rejected - and my least favorite thing is to write rejection letters to other writers. I try to be sensitive and to say something real; both the poets and poems deserve that.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for your feedback, Beth, and I'm glad you're an empathetic editor. I know sometimes the sheer quantity of submissions makes saying much hard - my wife ran a literary magazine for years - but when I was starting out I was so appreciative to those few editors who took the time to tell me where I was going wrong.

xzone said...

cool blog !
presentation of ur blog is very simple yet powerfull i have blogmarked ur blog. great job...

Art Durkee said...

I think you've given here some good illustrations of the therapeutic-writing process; although most therapy-poems and journal-poems are artless and not very good poetry, and these are much better than that. The artistic-therapeutic process is something I think is extremely healthy, and not just for artists. At the same time I'm always aware that things we write out, to get them out of our system, are not always very good art. I like your "White Light" poem here best, but that's just me.

I worked in community radio for many years as a volunteer programmer and DJ. I mostly was on late at night, doing new music shows. (I liked the 11pm till 2am slot best.) I tend to view putting poems and art out as broadcasting, rather than as giving birth. The children analogy is only an analogy, although for some people it can be a very emotionally appropriate one. Especially now, in this blogospheric medium, it's a lot more like broadcasting than publishing. The phone calls you got from listeners at 1am were often very similar to these comments threads. I made one or two lifelong friends that way.

i've also used the analogy of shedding poems from the back of the wagon as I travel on. They fall out whenever the wagon hits a rut in the road, and bumps hard enough to knock a box loose, and fall off the tailgate. I shed a lot of haiku that way. They're very momentary.

The shadow side of viewing one's poems as children, which hasn't been explicitly discussed here yet, just hinted at, is that there are lots of poets who cannot suffer rejection or criticism or comment on their work AT ALL. The slightest suggestion for their improvement as a writer causes them to go into attack mode, as though you had just threatened to murder their "babies." The poetry critique boards are full of these kinds of responses. And truth be said, most such overly-defensive responses come from those younger and less experienced in the art. (Younger as writers, not necessarily as people.) Experience does seem to toughen the skin.

My late mother was a packrat. When I moved to my new house this year I discovered that Mom had kept a couple boxes of my old paintings, done in my teens. They're actually not as bad as I had thought they were. I do tend to keep everything creative, even if I've moved on. Looking back through old material is not something I do that often, but when I do, I often find things to pull out of the mine. usually just a fragment or an idea, but if it sparks a new and better idea, so be it. I don't revise older poems that got stuck, though; I let them stay abandoned. The data-mining I do is mostly in the old journals, not in the poetry folders.

Anonymous said...

Love the post...helped me to understand why I'm trying to write...if only just a little better.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for the feedback there, Xzone, hope your return visits are beneficial.

Man on Fire, glad I was able to shed a bit of light there. That's the great thing about the Web, the fact that we get to pass on insights like this.

And, Art, the point I was making here is that all my poetry is part of a therapeutic process. I would never think of posting on a site for poets who had miserable childhoods for example. I know a lot of people will focus on a specific thing they've endured or survived but that's not it for me. The point is that writing is a necessary thing for me to grow as an individual. It doesn't matter whether I'm talking about my woes or the world's woes.

As for the poetry boards, yeah, well, we've talked about this in a previous post. I'm like you and steer clear of those kinds of people. Good luck to them an' all but criticism is necessary for growth; you have to rise above it. That's why attacking a poem of mine is, to a certain extent, redundant because I've moved on from there. I know it's more than that but you get the idea. Onwards and upwards.

Art Durkee said...

Thanks for the clarifications. I appreciate that, as I agree with all of that. I still think you've managed to turn your process of writing-as-self-discovery, or self-therapy, into something actually artful, which is more than many of those we both have encountered have managed to do. I praise you for it. These poems are not "only" therapy, they're poems.

Amen to all of that!

Jim Murdoch said...

I think the difference here, Art, is direction. I didn't set out with a problem and thought, Hm, let's work this out through poetry, no, I wrote poetry and realised, many years later, looking back over it, that what I was doing was working out aspects of my life. The 'Drowning Man' poems are a good example because I can see a progression of thought reaching a natural conclusion. It's really is no different to an artist producing a series of works until he's worked out or through what's niggling him. I've said on all I needed to say about emotional turmoil in those particular poems.

The same goes for the novels. In The More Things Change, I look at the nature of inevitability; in Milligan and Murphy, the fact that not everything happens for a reason and in the current book I'm looking at what it's like to be left. The blogs have been helpful too because I'm having to find words and expressions for things. I used to tell my students: "If you can't explain something then you really don't understand it," and I know there are counterarguments to that but it's a good point of view to hold I feel. I suppose that's why meaning is fundamental to my poetry, in fact I'm just putting the finishing touches to a blog on meaning which I'm sure you'll have something to add to like you always do.

annie said...

(written before reading other comments, to hold, for a moment, the illusion that this is a conversation between you, me, and all those quoted folks)

I am not so compact an individual that everything I create has one name, such as "poem", but the sentiment is a familiar one. I've touched on it in a couple places recently... the aspect of creating being pulling something out of yourself (I frequently refer to writing as "exorcising")... the aspect of being anxious about whether something create will sink or swim after being sent out into the world... and especially the aspect of created works being progeny.

I'm not that special, but my husband and I won't be having human children, and with that decided at our age, I feel like an oddly-thinking misfit. This relates to the topic at hand because we're both creative types beginning our careers with the knowledge that if we want to leave any kind of legacy we'll have to intentionally create it ourselves.

"Sons" is beautiful, by the way. As easily as you toss off poems (hmm... the image of a snake shedding skin with words scrawled on the inside...), I see them as evidence of something different going on under the surface. Maybe it's simply appreciating an oyster for being an oyster, but oysters are not as common as, say, badgers.

Jim Murdoch said...

Enjoyed you comment, Annie. I never really thought about using exorcism as a metaphor when I wrote the article but it is a good one to consider. [Sound of Jim's brain considering away] I think why that doesn't work for me is that an exorcism involves expelling something that is not of you whereas the words we write are very much a part of us. Also, an exorcism is a) done by a third party and b) against the will of the possessor. Although my words do often offer some resistance I really think the comparison ends there.

My wife likes 'Sons' too. It's always been a favourite of hers. I've grown out of it so I can't say I have the same affection for it. It's really four little poems of course.

Please don't think that I toss off poems easily. That's far from the truth. Writing is easier now than when I was in my twenties but I've had a lot more practice. The main thing I've learned is not to force a work. And so I'm happy to leave bits of poems lying all over the place which I pick up, potter with, and then either decide they're done or save them for another day. Yes, some poems do come easier now that they once did but my style has also changed. I've simplified what I do and I don't obsess about getting exactly the right word as long as what I say is right enough; the readers fill in the blanks anyway.

Love the image of a snakeskin with words on the inside. You should do something with that.

Dave King said...

I must admit that I don't feel my poems - or any other writings - are liek children except in one respect: they tend not to do what you'd hoped they'd do, but potter off and do their own thing instead!
A good subject for discussion, though.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, Dave, it always surprises me what people make of my writing. They get excited over the oddest pieces and don't recognise the masterpieces. I suppose it's like when your daughter brings home the guy she's going to marry (or whatever they do nowadays) and he really isn't what you would have chosen, given a choice.

The oddest for me was a woman I knew casually – I knew her daughters better – asked to see some of my stuff so I dutifully collected a few together and left her with them. When I got them back she said she'd kept the last one in the set, and for the life of me I can't remember which one it was, but she said it meant something to her; she never said what and wouldn't be drawn on the subject – the poem was hers now.

She'd kidnapped my baby.

Anonymous said...

I've been published since 1978 (poems) and I consider my poems to be verbal snap shots. They reflect what is going on with me as I write them. No magic formula....

Jim Murdoch said...

Well, I guess that makes us contemporaries, Paul, I think my first poem would have been published circa 1976. 'Verbal snapshots; - I like that. I can see that, totally, in fact I often sit and thumb through my big red binder and virtually every poem will remind me of a time, a place and a person. Interestingly, most of my real snapshots are of other people – because I was the guy holding the camera – but that doesn't apply to 'verbal snapshots' now does is?

annie said...

Alright, I understand you a bit better now. I didn't mean to come across as disrespecting the care you put into poetry, but you seem to distance yourself from the poems you write. Though I'm looking through oh-so-small a peephole.

I do treat the "exorcising" comparison lightly, returning to it only because thoughts and ideas often nag at me until I get them onto paper. And it sounds like "exercising", which amuses me, because sitting and writing or drawing is obviously not that.

Jim Murdoch said...

Annie, I don't take offense easily. One of the reasons I write this blog the way I do is to understand better this writing process we've all been involved with for so long. I expect most of us are the same; we don't talk about what we do, we just get on with it. We do what we do because that's what we do and it's not until we struggle to find the words – now is that not an expression we all can relate to? – we start to understand ourselves that bit better. From there we can grow.

There are only so many ways of being a writer and to my mind if I can find the words at this stage of my career to help someone who is less experienced than I then maybe he or she won't have to waste time fretting about that aspect of who they are and they can make progress in other ways. We are all dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. Bernard of Chartres wrote that in 1159 and yet to someone who has never heard it before it will be as if his ink was still wet.

That said, I'm as keen to learn as I am to teach. No one knows it all. Not even the giants.

mand said...

Just popped over here from Adrian Graham's site - (baffled by Aggie n Shuggie but) i love your poetry and your train-of-thought writing in this post.

Recently a baby-beginner writer said to me that looking back at past work was depressing cos it looks so bad - but it shows how far we've come, which is a happier way and imnuho [nu = 'not usually'] a truer way of thinking about it.

As for children, yes and no. Mainly yes, i think. Ruthlessness works on both, self-indulgence ruins both, and losing either hurts like hell. Purely from my own experience, of course. I'm not a hoarder but daren't bin (almost) any of my work; i think Asimov (plus probably many others) said never throw away anything you've written.

I seem to share your taste in books n films, and a Kafka/Douglas Adams hybrid can only be good... Very glad to find you. 80)

Jim Murdoch said...

Well, Mand, for starters Adrian's 'Aggie and Shuggie' isn't going up till tomorrow so you can have another crack at one then if you fancy. I wrote the first one as a novel way of saying, "Here's a book review – go on and read it, please, and maybe buy the book? Pretty please." I'm really not fond of pushing myself like that but I'm here to promote my writing and so 'Aggie and Shuggie' were born. They're not easy to write let me tell you and you would have to pick about the densest one I've written so far to start with.

I don't get depressed looking back at my writing because of its lack of quality; I get depressed because of all the stuff it reminds me of. Quite a different thing. I'm attached to every one of them, how could I not be, a bit of me went into every one of them but I also don't make more of them than they are.

And the Kafka/Douglas Adams hybrid thing… Yeah, other people have seen other things in the book – if you read all the reviews you'll see how they've all struggled – but, for me, that's it. I'd never read Douglas Adams till I'd finished the book and its sequel so I couldn't say it was an influence stylistically but I had seen The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the tele and there has to be a bit of Arthur in Jonathan and Ford in Truth, there really has.

mand said...

Re 'Aggie and Shuggie'- tbh the accent put me off reading very far into it. I see from comments that this doesn't hold for other people so you can ignore my (truthful, helpfully intended and possibly not useful) feedback on this one!

I'd agree with you about not lack of quality 'all the stuff it reminds me of' being the hard thing about past scribblings. Otoh the hard stuff is the only stuff worth writing imo.

Hey, it's acronym day. Well, acronym sentence.

Jim Murdoch said...

You're right there, Mand, but if you're not surrounded by the accent then I can see how one might struggle. I've opted basically for a phonetic approach. The thing is, depending on where in a sentence a word is used how it's pronounced can vary, like 'no' – sometimes it's 'nae' and other times a rather emphatic 'no'. Sometimes it's simply impossible to get it perfect, e.g. 'brollies', most people would have a short 'o' but in reality the Scots would give it a long 'o' and how do you write that?

The Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter did a long running series of sketches called 'Parliamo Glasgow' which has to be an inspiration. In it Baxter presents a foreign language programme based around a Glaswegian family. The two 'words' people always remember are 'noohoosferra' and 'cudyegoa'. Here's a link to a YouTube video with a few clips and Baxter talking about the origins of the concept.

mand said...

Ah, but you see if people are speaking i'm fine with (almost all) accents. On the page/screen i find this hard going cos i have to 'translate', read aloud and listen.

I have been told (somewhere in the dim past) that it's better to indicate an accent with a light touch - comparable to a cartoonist indicating a brick wall by drawing in only a few bricks and edges rather than filling in the whole wall, which would be more accurate but also more distracting from the main point of the picture. I always use this simile as it makes my point better than clearly i did the first time i made it here!

I do like the idea of using this kind of dialogue to present reviews et al.

Feedback always offered (and taken, when it's given) in the spirit of help and working together not as negative criticism; i hope i didn't come across as just picking holes.

Thanx very much for the YouTube link - i love Stanley Baxter, and the Glaswegian accent, fond memories of long, in-depth conversations with a friend who had as much difficulty with my (then) 'BBC' speech as i did with his Gorbals.

Couldn't get away with saying that on QI, could i.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, Mand, and if this was a novel I might be tempted to do the same, in fact I have done. This is just a bit of fun and, as long I'm not churning them out all the time, I think they're fine, not too long and not too much. I have a poem coming out in December which is so dense I provided a translation very much in the Stanley Baxter mould. I lived in the Gorbals for a couple of years actually.

mand said...

I expect i'd love your accent then. ;0)

Personally i'm picking up the Wiltshire drawl these days... aaar.

Dominic Rivron said...

The idea of a poem as a child put me in mind of a speech by Les Murray I was reading yesterday, in which he says:
"What I create, really, is a new body made of words and the potent arrangement of words, in which my soul as it was at a particular moment will go on existing."
The whole speech and the poems that go with it are well worth a read.

Jim Murdoch said...

That's not a bad definition for a poem, Dominic, a "potent arrangement of words", yeah, I like that because I suppose every poem is like a battery full of potential energy just waiting for some daft bugger to come along and stick his tongue across the contacts (God, that takes me back about forty years).

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