Monday, March 30, 2009

Some thoughts inspired by Sylvia Plath's poetry

Sylvia Plath had a short life - 1932-1963. She worked at her poetry for a number of years, but particularly in the last couple of years of her life.

Her husband, Ted Hughes, interestingly described her as rarely discarding a poem but continuing to work on it to get something out of it. Quoting Hughes, if she could not get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair or even a toy. The product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity.

I have been reading a lot of Plath's poetry lately. It is often very powerful in its observations. Consider the following extract from Mushrooms.

Overnight, very
Whitely, discretely,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam
Acquire the air

How can you fail to see mushrooms in your head, emerging, growing, on reading those lines? In my opinion, this is what makes that powerful verse.

To be able to write like that requires great observation of details in what surrounds us - something that every writer needs to be able to do. The writer's journal or notebook is good for aiding this. I am rarely without pen and paper to hand and scribble down all sorts of things that catch my eye. In theory these notes are all transcribed into my journal although I must admit to having been terribly slack on that front of late.

I was sitting outside as I first began to scribble these thoughts.

A Crimson Rosella (a red and blue type of parrot for my friends outside of Australia) was feeding on the remnants of a sunflower head in the garden, the seeds audibly cracking in its beak with sounds like the clacking of an old-fashioned typewriter. A large, black Chuff swooped down in a smooth glide to land on the edge of the bird bath, to watch me suspiciously before taking a drink. Its strange, yellow eye, looks like a solitary corn kernel in the middle of an ebony plate. A plucky Mudlark - a smallish bird in striking black and white - darted in close to my chair, checking the ground for edibles before darting away again. A Noisy Miner - related to the Asian or Indian Mynah - perched on the edge of a flower pot, glares around. This is his domain! How dare these other birds intrude!

Moving so quickly that the eye is hard pressed to distinguish the actual movements, a skink darted across the pavers, from one bit of shelter to another, its body all sinewy movement in one moment and frozen stillness the next.

All fascinating little observations in only a few minutes. Several poems have resulted from these and I look forward to using those observations in creating a sense of place in a future story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I have just submitted a story to an anthology. This piece was a little different from my usual fare. It is a bit of alternate history with overtones of supernatural horror.

Researching the necessary historical aspects of Elizabethan England proved to be fascinating as to almost take over from the actual story telling. I had to remind myself that I was not writing a history but story within a particular historical setting. There is a significant difference.

So what next?

I have a script for a possible feature-length film under development. It is a romantic comedy. The comedic bits proved easy to do as did a comedic subplot. But the dramatic scenes are proving more problematic to get down. I shall keep plugging away at it as finishing such a large project will be a good test of my ability to stick at things.

I have been incredibly slack with recording things in my Writing Journal. But last Friday evening I attended a poetry reading with Australian poet, Les Murray. I sat there, scribbling thoughts on a scrap of paper as they occured to me. I also had the opportunity to talk to Les afterwards and tell him how I had adopted him as my internal Censor during poetry studies at university last year. It was a thill to speak to someone of that stature/

Those thoughts I captured have to be written up in my Writing Journal as the start of recording in it on a regular basis once more. I also have various other thoughts and ideas scrawled on random bits of paper that also need to be transcribed into that Journal.

I have a program of anthology targets that I wish to submit to over the rest of 2009. The next target is an anthology of zombie poetry of all things. But how to tackle such a thing?

First some research into zombies, looking for clues on what to write about. Next thoughts about possible poetic style. I was recently reading some of Kipling's poetry and was struck by its story-telling nature - I think that is the way to go with this piece.

The first draft has some twenty stanzas although a lot of editing is required yet.

Stay tuned to see how I go.

Monday, March 16, 2009

the talamaur

During a Flycon panel about vampires, I referred to an Australian vampiric myth and said I would dig the details out and post them here. Another panel member posted details of an Australian vampire myth, but that turns out not to be the one I recently read about.

Legends of Blood: the Vampire in History and Myth, Wayne Bartlett and Flavia Idriceanu

Even Australia has its own variant, the talamaur. This is a living vampire, which could extract an residual life force trapped in the body from a recently dead corpse (an interesting case of rule reversal).

That's it. Finding out more about this is now on my things-to-research-list and should I find out anything more in the future, I will post in here.