Tag Archives: Autumn

Another Go at Autumn/ Andrew O’Hagan at the Vancouver Writer’s Festival.

 

 

Autumn

The leaves on the trees

bordering the field

have abandoned

that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking

yellows and red

like a paint store catalogue.

 

I have played around with this poem a few times in previous posts, some poems are never finished,  I guess, they are just resting. Perhaps, in the case of this poem, it’s because the subject was pretty much nailed by John Keats in 1819 at the age of 24.

John Keats

My friend, the poet Slim Volume, once gave me this advice:

Avoid autumn and death,
They’ve been done before;
There’s little more to say
On either score.

Also, waves like marathon runners
Collapsing on the shore,
The inexorable march of time,
Don’t go through that door.

Autumn in Vancouver means it’s time for the Vancouver Writer’s Festival. Last Saturday I went to see the Scottish novelist and journalist, Andrew O’Hagan, talk about his adventures as ghost writer for Julian Assange and his ultimate disenchantment with Assange,  whom he now regards as an unprincipled narcissist. He also read from some of his own novels. He talked for close to one and half hours and is an engaging, intelligent, witty speaker who in the course of his readings imitated a range of voices from Marilyn Monroe to a group of Scottish people in an old folk’s home on New Year’s Eve. But it was a question he took at the end that more than anything else stuck with me long after the talk ended.

He was asked by an audience member whether he thought that the internet and the platform it provides for self publishing through blogs, websites etc was a good thing in general for English literature in that more and more people are now writing fiction, poetry etc. He replied that initially he thought that it was a good thing but now he wishes it would stop, primarily because of the poor quality of what is being produced. Writers are not taking the time to edit and re-edit their work, they are in rush to get something out when maybe they should be waiting. Writing, like all art, requires hard work, diligence and talent.

The next day, the sun came out after a week of constant rain, so we headed out for a walk on the beach. As we left the house, this line popped into my head: ” we walked out today to celebrate the absence of rain”. I’ve been writing haiku’s recently as a kind of mind game, a poetic Sudoku, so by the end of the walk, I had this:

we walked out today

to celebrate October,

the absence of rain.

When I got home, I went straight to my laptop and posted the poem. An hour later, I had a look at the poem again and I trashed it immediately. It was flat, wooden and had that self-consciously poetic tone  that haiku’s sometimes have. In addition, I had destroyed the rhythm of the original line by trying to adhere to a syllable count. This might have been better:

we walked out today

to celebrate

the absence of rain.

It keeps the assonance of the ‘a’s’ running through each line, plus the half rhyme between ‘today’, ‘celebrate’, and ‘rain’ and it keeps the ‘b’s’ in ‘celebrate’ and ‘absence’ close together. In addition, it’s an internet friendly length, three lines long, just the right length for clicking on and moving on.

On the other hand, I could just tuck the line away until I find a better context for it.

Is it just me, or is Andrew O’Hagan looking over my shoulder

 

 

 

Autumn (2 haikus)

   Autumn 

I

a clear day in fall

a call from the governor

a pardon granted.

 

II

trees leaking colour

like a paint store catalogue

et tu, chlorophyll?

 

This poem has formed and re-formed since I started this blog, I think this is the last re-incarnation.

 

Photo: Chlorophyll molecule (Chlorophyll-a-3D-vdw, licensed under public domain)

Autumn and Death (2 poems and a Conversation)

 

Autumn

The leaves have abandoned

that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking yellows and reds

like a paint store catalogue.

Death (a slimverse)

A God’s voice

roaring: You!

You are not

in control.

Conversation with Slim

Me: Slim, in a previous post “Slim’s Advice Part 2” you said and I quote:

“Avoid Autumn and Death

they’ve been done before

there’s little more to say

on either score.”

Are you being ironic here in a self referential way?

Slim: No.

Me: “Slim, the first poem here is an outtake or revision of a previous poem (Slim’s Advice Part 3), are poems ever really finished?”

Slim:

“Words can be ‘

rearranged

if you just

talk to them.”

Lately, Slim has taken to talking in these 12 syllable bites he calls “slimverse” and I find it irritating and more than a little disturbing. So, as gently as I can, I say to him:

“Slim, that makes absolutely no sense to me, do you not think you are being a tad cryptic, a tad gnomic, if you keep on like this, you are danger of turning into a fucking garden ornament”

We haven’t talked since.

Poet’s Corner 12 – Slim’s Advice Part 3

In which, Slim ignores his own advice. See Slim’s Advice Part 2.

A Clear Day in Late October

 A clear day in late October

is like a call from the Governor,

a stay of execution.

It is just such a day,

the leaves on the trees bordering the soccer field

have abandoned that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking yellows and reds

like a paint store catalogue;                                                         

on the side lines, the soccer dads

bark and pace like chain-linked hounds

like dogs locked in parked cars on a sunny day,

while in the bushes, Thwarted Ambition

waits to join them

on the long journey home.

Photo: Chlorophyll molecule (Chlorophyll-a-3D-vdw, licensed under public domain)

Poet’s Corner 11 – Slim’s Advice Part 2

In which, Slim delivers a poem for aspiring poets.

So, after his outburst in the pub (see Slim’s Advice Part 1), Slim comes up to me, mutters an apology and mumbles something about having to learn how to control his anger.

“No problem” I said” it worked out fine in the end”

For a moment, there was a feeling between us that approximated warmth.

“Anyway,” he said “I wrote a poem for aspiring poets”

“Is it inspiring?”

Slim looked puzzled.

“You know, an inspiring poem for aspiring poets”.

My wordplay seemed to irritate Slim immensely. That warm feeling evaporated like sweat in the desert.

Here’s the poem!

Slim’s Advice

 Avoid autumn and death,

They’ve been done before;

There’s little more to say

On either score.

Also, waves like marathon runners

Collapsing on the shore,

The inexorable march of time,

Don’t go through that door.

 

By the way, as you have probably guessed the delicate-looking guy in the picture is John Keats, who pretty much nailed “Autumn” in 1819 at the age of 24.