Hello everybody. I have only just remembered (i.e 5 minutes ago) that I didn’t do a Sunday Poem yesterday, despite having the whole day at home not doing very much. My only excuse is I have been in a strange world over Christmas and New Year where my routine of being busy has been completely disrupted with great long stretches of time and nothing to fill it.
This had the effect of making me start some other, non-poetry-related projects. I’ve been decluttering the house which you might think doesn’t sound like a very big job, but bear in mind, I don’t think I’ve ever decluttered in my life. I’m the sort of person who keeps all their birthday cards since they were born. I found clothes that I wore when I was 18 and at university still in my wardrobe.
The hubby is the complete opposite – he is not attached to ‘stuff’ at all and would very easily live out of a rucksack, and has done. This, I told him, is one of the many reasons I married him. I think if I was not married to him, I would be one of those people on the programmes you see on telly with the chronic hoarding problem, where they have a little tunnel through all the stuff to get from room to room…
You will be glad to hear that I have not got rid of any of my lovely poetry books – although at the minute, rather annoyingly my collection is spread in three different rooms – the reason we are trying to declutter is so that we can hopefully sell the house, you see and buy another one with a garden and an office each…so at the minute hubby is in a possibly doomed attempt to disguise the fact our house is actually a poetry library that we just happen to live in…
So that is what I’ve been doing all over Christmas really – I’ve not been on Facebook or Twitter very much – just retreated into sorting the house out. I’ve been writing a little, and reading a lot as well, but nothing particularly exciting.
Tonight I’ve been doing my tax return, which is the most hated job of the year. I was slightly depressed seeing how much money I’d spent on poetry compared to how much I’d actually earned – I think I had been deluding myself up to this point!
Anyway, today’s Sunday (Monday) poem is by Jane McKie who I’ve been on the Poetry Business Writing School course with for the last 18 months. I received a batch of pamphlets from Mariscat Press and Jane’s was amongst them. I didn’t know Jane had a pamphlet out – she kept it very quiet! Jane is very modest – I did know that she had won the Edwin Morgan poetry competition in 2011 because in true stalker fashion, before the course started I had googled her. Jane’s first collection ‘Morocco Rococo’ came out with Cinnamon Press and was awarded the Sundial/Scottish Arts Council prize for best first collection in 2007. Her second collection ‘When the Sun Turns Green’ came out with Polygon in 2009 and the Mariscat pamphlet came out in 2011.
I asked Jane if I could have the title poem of the pamphlet ‘Garden of Bedsteads’ to use on the blog which she kindly agreed to. I enjoyed reading the whole pamphlet but I chose this poem because it reminded me of an experience I had in France when I was on a school trip as a teacher staying in a monastery. I sneaked upstairs into the attic of the monastery and found a whole room of bedsteads and they were very creepy.
The poem has that creepy feeling as well – the image of the hands around the bars, the bedsteads weeping rust, and their plaintive voices, but perhaps creepiest is the line that gives us a clue as to why they were carried out ‘the ceiling that caved, plastering hair’. The poem gives just enough away to keep the reader guessing and wondering, which I like. I hope you enjoy it and don’t have nightmares about bedsteads.
If you would like to order Jane’s pamphlet you can buy it from Mariscat Press for a measly £5 by clicking on www.mariscatpress.com
I should add that Mariscat Press were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers Award this year for the second year running I think so definitely worth checking out their website.
Garden of Bedsteads – Jane McKie
They came from the German orphanage,
just frames, no padding, craving
the crease of hands around bars.
In the garden, they wept. Rust marks
on the grass stayed after they left,
after the lawn had been mown and mown.
‘Remember the eggs,’ they pined.
‘The dyed-red eggs at Easter time.
Under our pillows, painted with crosses –
the lightest of secrets.
Remember the walls that peeled to pink,
the ceiling that caved, plastering hair.
Remember the men who came with a van
and lifted us up from the gravel drive.
Already emptied. Corroding in air.’