Saturday, August 17, 2013

Writing Experiments: Step into the Bhakti-verse

Some of you might have noticed that I spend a lot of time on these blogs writing about my mother. They say that your life influence comes out of the five people you spend the most time with. For two people who spend most of their time on opposite sides of the globe, my mother and I see each other a lot. I work with her (and sometimes for her), we send each other interesting links, and like many other mothers and daughters, we Skype. (Is that a verb now? Like Google?)

Another reason we're so close is that we share so many interests. Science fiction & fantasy. Illustration. Calligraphy. And writing, of course.

My mom's writing is a strange animal. She's been going to a class for a few years now, but her degree is in film and advertising. She's also read a lot of spiritual literature, as well as writers like Robert Holdstock and Patricia McKillip, who do lyrical, descriptive work. A lot of her writing is brief but rhythmic, like a media sound bite from an alternate universe. She also really likes alliteration and parallel structure.

Lately, as a writing exercise, she re-worked one of her favourite pieces into three poems and asked me to read them and see what I thought. You can read them here:

My relationship with poetry is a lot like my relationship with abstract art: I only know enough about it to have a like/don't like reaction, which I can't always explain. So this next bit isn't so much a review as an opinion.

Despite being very different structures, all three of these poems are immediately recognisable as being from one person, with the turns of phrase, alliterative passages, and obvious love of wordplay.

The three-haiku piece is short but effective. Instead of using images to create a single moment like traditional haiku, the poem uses the 5-7-5 beat to play with metaphors and sounds. The phonetics create a tone almost of war-drums, giving the reader a feeling of standing on a field watching a literal holy war. Mom and I read Norse mythology; she would probably enjoy writing in Fornyr├░islag.

The free-verse visual style is probably the closest to the original prose work, but my favourite poem is the chain, where each successive verse starts with the last line of the previous one. I mentioned Mom's love of wordplay and odd phrases (e.g. the deliberate use of 'them self' instead of 'themselves'; I still can't decide if this is crazy and off-putting or innovative and thought-provoking. Both?). This is the one that makes pictures in my head, that I want to turn into an illustrated scroll and hang on my wall. The images here are so vivid that they stick. Love or hate the sentence structure, this is a powerful and fascinating poem.

1 comment:

  1. thank you babe - your insight & feedback always blow me away