It’s as close to finished as it’s ever been and, although there are still a few clangers in there that need ironing, I’m pretty proud of it to be honest. Poetry doesn’t come naturally to me at all, what with rhyme and meter getting in the way of what I want to say more often than not, but here you go.
A Poem That Doesn’t Yet Have A Name.
You suggest we open the cider
On the National Express.
I silently agree, red wine
Still lingering on my breath.
It’s not raining in this daydream
(It isn’t even breezy)
But if it was, my hair
Wouldn’t dare go frizzy,
And you’d tuck me into
Your brand new poncho.
Conjoined bat twins
Sponsored by Uniqlo.
You carry the tent like a cameraman
And we do the journey in stages,
Laughing at all the indie girls,
Their sideways hair and pink suitcases.
We pretend we haven’t noticed
The babies dressed as Cinderella,
Being pushed in a wheelbarrow
And twirling pink feathers,
But we know we’re both thinking
CUTEST THING EVER.
We pitch the tent like pros
But the cider’s crushed our eggs
And while I blow up the lilo
You make gags about oral sex.
With different coloured pens
We mark our choices in the programme,
You show concern about our future
When I call Julian Cope a madman.
On Sunday you want to see Cohen
But I quite fancy The Earlies,
Based on tour schedules
And probable life expectancies.
At night we wonder if Kings Of Leon
Will be as good as at the Apollo
And talk about Steve and Molly
Who will arrive tomorrow.
Steve will bring a range of knives,
With which to slaughter his tea.
Molly will bring a stupid pink suitcase,
And worry about going for a wee.
As we snuggle down to sleep
We don’t feel especially guilty
About drinking three quarters
Of the cider already.
Today it’s The Raconteurs,
But no other concrete plans,
And Jack White has turned himself
Into Edward Scissorhands.
You can’t tune a Les Paul
With velvet and kohl
But the darker your glare,
The more rock’n’roll.
When we feel like a burger,
We order kangaroo meat.
Steve thinks that Ray Mears
Would consider us cheats.
At sundown we buy drugs
And we dance,sweat and bond,
Decide that of minimal techno
We are really rather fond.
We lose Steve and Molly
And a fair portion of brain
But we buy a nice blanket
Which feels like a fair exchange.
We doze by a fire
With a juggler called Tiger,
Talk about our lives
And drink someone else’s lager.
I notice you have begun to confide
In a wind-up mobile charger.
In the morning, you’re up early
Albeit without one of your shoes.
You make us tea on the camping stove
That I swore we would never use.
Throwing me an orange,
You call me your “favourite panda”
Because yesterday’s make-up
Had thoughtlessly wandered.
Joanna Newsom takes second place
To your sexy two-day stubble
And the camping stove is left, unloved
While we enjoy special morning cuddles.
Molly and Steve were up hours ago
Enjoying the friendly disorder.
Molly has bought a pink tutu
Steve, a vintage deerstalker.
Sherlock Holmes piss-taking
Replaces any mention of Mears
Steve says he’ll give Cohen a miss
I say that’s “an elementary idea”.
On our way to free bean stew
From the Hare Krishna kids,
The cash machine queue stretches
Right past herbal highs and trips,
And we conclude our speedy service
Indicates changing demographics.
We tear our greasy poppadoms
Enjoy the chanting’s big finale
“Six out of ten” you say, since
“It doesn’t progress much lyrically”.
In the poetry tent,
I put my head on your knee
While a man reads a poem
About Stuart Maconie.
The sun turns the sky pink,
We become shadow puppets,
And in the dusty rays,
There’s that one from The Pipettes.
Lenny plays ‘Hallelujah’
And you remember your brother,
How tears pricked his eyes
Hearing Jeff Buckley’s cover.
We stand back and slowdance
As the night gets colder
You don’t even mind when I
Spill cider on your shoulder.
Later, we apologise
For calling Steve Sherlock Holmes.
We all share the last Pot Noodle,
Watch the fireworks explode.
I help Molly fold her tutu
As our energies dwindle.
A boy lies on his pop-up tent
As if it was an escaped criminal.
When our friends go to bed
You hold my hand and we walk,
Watch the lights from the hill
And drink a hip flask of port.
I don’t want to leave, so you say
“I’ll build us a house right near the Tor
We can both get jobs
On the kangaroo stall.”
©Megan Vaughan, 2008
Yesterday’s booksigning was quite the highbrow affair. I had a glass of wine and ate mini pitta breads with hummus. Simon Armitage read for about half an hour, hopefully not spoiling all the best bits from Gig, and then answered a few questions. When I asked him if one needed to have rhythm to write a poem, he skirted around the issue for a wee while, talking about song lyrics and working with musicians, and then ultimately said that yes, you do need to have rhythm “because a poem must be both the lyrics and the music.” I think I may just turn Regina-Spektor-in-a-box into a short story.
On a separate issue, I have finished Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and its accompanying short stories (possibly tagged onto the end to warrant the publishers charging £7.99, although the one about the woman killing her mother-in-law was pretty good) and I’m now onto Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. Admittedly, I was all too ignorant of the man until he died not so long ago, but I intend to make up for lost time, appreciating him to the power of at least 8 or 9 hereon in. I read Slapstick a few weeks ago, and his matter of fact prose is just incredible, especially when you consider the themes he covers. It’s the way I want my book to come across; unbelievable concepts relayed as if there is nothing unusual going on at all.
I also like the way he introduces his fiction as if his own personal reality. Perhaps this doesn’t happen in all his novels, but Slapstick is described in the early pages as being (if I remember correctly) “as close to an autobiography as I will ever write”, before he talks about harmonious brains and a killer fever and the introduction of artificial extended families. Oh, and going to Mars. In Slaughterhouse 5, which I have only just begun, the first chapter is given over to a reunion with an old war buddy, as Vonnegut wanted to talk about their experiences in Dresden in order to write the book as faithfully as possible. Perhaps it will turn into an entirely realistic portrayal of the Second World War, but I doubt that.
Sometimes I think that if my second year poetry module at university had included Simon Armitage, I may not have buggered off to start ‘real life’ before the end of the semester. In reality, even if JK Rowling had been a guest lecturer I’d probably have been far too headstrong to stick around, but I don’t half love Simon Armitage.
It was during GCSE English that I first came across him. Aside from the token Cooper Clarke entry in our anthologies (which our class never bloodied studied), his were the only poems that even came close to reflecting the interests and experiences of a sixteen year-old. About His Person was a valuable lesson in subtlety. I Am Very Bothered When I Think… was laugh-out-loud funny without ever relying on the premise of an actual joke. Cataract Operation proved he could paint a genuinely vivid picture with words. After my GCSE was over, I bought a couple of collections of his work, and then never looked at them nearly enough.
Now, Armitage has a new book out, and from what I gather from the broadsheet reviews, it’s less poetry-more memoir. Charting a lifelong love of music and its parallels with performing poetry, it looks bloody excellent. I’m going to buy it today, when I go to Waterstones to see Armitage speak. I’m going to get it signed and everything. Surprisingly, I’ve never been to a book signing before, probably because I’ve spent the last few years running from gig to gig with my notebook, which is almost ironic, since Gig is the name of this new book.
What I am most looking forward to about this evening is the possibility for questions. You may have seen my earlier post about my problems with poetry, and my Regina-Spektor-in-a-box idea. The first two stanzas are written, but they are utter balls, and as a result, I have been mentally addressing my many hurdles with the poetic form. Firstly, I am two explicit. As a (I hope) competant writer of fiction, I find myself establishing a scene and plausible characterisation in poetry, which is not at all what it is about. I work so hard on clever word-play that the whole flow suffers; like damming a river with alliteration. Ultimately though (and partly due to my housemate’s recent acquisition of Guitar Hero for the Wii) I have realised that I have no rhythm. None. I can’t even clap along to a Queen song without becoming a big syncopated mess of flailing. This surely must transfer to my ability to phrase a poetic concept, and later today, I’m going to ask Simon Armitage what he thinks.
Perhaps he’ll suggest joining a salsa band as a form of therapy.
I want to buy a camper van, so it is easier for me to escape this grime and appreciate things that I miss. Quiet, stars, seasons, exercise. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the end of the winter, but Manchester is stifling right now. I want to ride a bike and find birds nesting in hedgerows. The lack of live music would probably drive me to premature madness of course, but the ability to escape without hinderance (or expense) is definitely required.
My Dad gave me a beautiful box for my birthday this year. It’s the sort of box that could only have been made in some forgotten Celtic settlement somewhere, all polished rose-wood with cast iron inlay. It brings out the materialist in me.
So far, the box has lain empty for the simply reason that nothing I own is deserving of it. This box is far too special for miscellaneous hair clips and the odd broken pin-badge.
On a separate subject, I’m not much of a poet. I behold the lyrically gifted with a kind of hushed reverence, since I don’t even have enough rhythm to clap along at gigs. There’s a guy in Manchester who performs his poetry with a jazz band, and whose biting political comment is relayed with a sense of analogy that opens a gateway of understanding to under-privileged kids across the region. I take my hat off to him.
Regina Spektor speaks to me though. She opens up my chest and cries salty tears into the wound, healing every emotional pain through empathy and perception. She sings about childhood memories, drug highs and Guns N Roses. She knows me so well, that she’s written all about my problem with poetry. It was Consequences Of Sound that made me want to put Regina in my box.
I wouldn’t want to chop her up to fit it though, so for now, it will have to remain empty.
There’s a poem in there somewhere.