30 March 2010

My Relationship With Poetry

I hate poetry. Or so I thought. That bratty twelve year old in me was sure of it. Poetry? Boring!!! And so it goes.

That twelve year old sat, bored, in class. Poetry was the order of the day - much to her dismay. Oh when will the bell ring to let me out of this gloomy whitewashed room? Surely you know the sun is shining outside? What a waste.

The teacher hands out pieces of paper - Banda sheets for those of us old enough to remember them from the spirit duplicator now only found in museums. The pink Banda lettering spells out the lines of a poem. Here we go. Please God - take me now.

We look at the words and the teacher reads them out loud. Then, quite unexpectedly, a voice rings out from the back of the class rudely bringing us back from our daydreams.

"Isn't that John Lennon?" Tom was always pretty smart.

"Mmmm", says the teacher coyly. Was he really in blissful ignorance that he'd just copied out the lyrics to John Lennon's Imagine? Was this a joke? Or was this guy really smart? It was the early 1980's after all and John Lennon was far from a distant memory.

John Lennon is poetry? Then the Beatles? Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, U2? Surely not? We've all been listening to poetry all this time... and liking it? Believe me it was quite a revelation as we studied those immortal words of Mr. Lennon. To be fair most of us hadn't really got far past "You and I in a little toy shop, buy a bag of balloons with the money we got" (whatever happened to Nena and her ninety nine red balloons?) - So Imagine was really something.

I've since learned this isn't a unique trick. I later saw Michelle Pfieffer perform the same trick with Bob Dylan (as opposed to Dylan Thomas), in the film Dangerous Minds. Obviously we were easily led.

Whatever you think of the relationship between song lyrics and poetry, (and I am aware this can be controversial) to a naive class of 12 year olds this was an exciting new discovery. I began listening to music on a whole new level and searching for meaning. I'm not saying that I became more discerning in my music taste over night or that I would only listen to music written by the more poetic lyricist - but there began my relationship with poetry - through music.

Music is still very important to me today - although neither my guitar playing nor my poems will ever make me a rock star, and that is a shame. Despite my "John Lennon Epiphany" at such a young age, poetry as a form of writing did not choose me as its custodian. It was other forms of writing that chose me. My relationship with poetry is no longer one of hate however - it is one of respect. If I choose to share one of my poems with you some day – please don’t expect too much!

I can't re-produce Lennon's lyrics here for you as they are copyrighted. But if you would like to see what all the fuss was about please google "imagine lyrics John Lennon" - it's easy if you try! Alternatively click here

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"It was a bright cold day in April and the Clocks were striking thirteen." - George Orwell

First line of the novel 1984.

Gets your attention doesn't it?

27 March 2010

Ever had a writing experience like this?

Sorry, I couldn't resist this video...


How they wrote in the old days...

Video Masterclass 1 - Ideas and Inspiration

I came across this YouTube video from Costa-nominated novelist Keith Gray of the Scottish Book Trust. I like this guy - he is clear honest and to the point, and anyone who writes with a parrot and a finch at his desk gets my vote - I just hope they are house trained!  I'll add more videos from this series later on.

I hope you enjoy this video. Over to Keith Gray...

Masterclass 1

Ideas and Inspiration

There are similar videos on YouTube from Keith Gray and The Scottish Book Trust - but I thought I'd stream this directly from YouTube here for your delectation.  The video is not part of this site and I am not part of the Scottish Book Trust - just a fan of this series.  I hope you enjoy it too.

22 March 2010


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