Sunday Poem – Ben Parker

Another blog post which will (hopefully) creep in just under the wire, in the last few minutes of Sunday night!  I will try not to go on about painting as some of my friends have suggested on Facebook that I need to get help, that I am, in fact, obsessed with painting.  But to be honest, there is not much else going on at the minute!  This weekend we’ve been painting our bedroom, which is basically an attic conversion – so it’s the biggest room in the house.  The old paint wouldn’t stop flaking away on one sloping ceiling yet it wouldn’t let itself be scraped off – so that took up most of yesterday – very tiresome.  We hit on the brilliant idea (well the man in B & Q told us to do this) of lined paper to cover up this part of the roof rather than scraping the rest of the paint off.  Then we painted over the paper and had a lovely smooth roof.  So far the paper has not fallen off so all is well.  Before next weekend I need to do another coat of paint on the purple wall and gloss the woodwork.  This has to be before next weekend because my parents are coming to stay – my dad is going to help us lay a new laminate floor as our poor laminate floor has basically worn away in many, many places.  If our bedroom is not done before next weekend, we will have nowhere for my parents to sleep as we are currently sleeping in the spare room…

Now I will stop going on about painting and talk about poetry – although I haven’t done much poetry this week but I thought I could put up some links to things which I haven’t drawn attention to through my own tardiness.  First off all there is a link here to a podcast from the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival with me and the other pamphlet poets.  We did this straight after our reading when I think we were all a bit…well…unstable, or excited or exhausted…don’t know what adjective is best! To be honest three cheers for the poor soul who had to edit this down and try and find 15 minutes of sense…I’m talking about myself of course.  The others were very articulate…

I had a brilliant rehearsal with the South Lakes Brass Ensemble on Thursday night – we managed to get some photos as well as playing an arrangement of the Queen of Sheba which sounded fab.  I’ve been working on a blog for the group and am probably another couple of hours off it going live.  On Friday I got to work with the lovely Andrew Forster again at the Young Writers workshop in Kendal.  We focused on sonnets this week so I’ve had great fun researching sonnets.  In the end I took ‘Prayer’ by  Carol Ann Duffy, ‘Waking with Russell’ by Don Paterson and a sonnet by Nick Drake from a sequence of unrhymed sonnets about the death of his father from his book ‘From the Word Go’.  I also found a really interesting essay on the Poetry Foundation website which was really useful which you can read here if you are interested –

I applied for part time poetry work and got a positive response – but won’t say too much until details are firmed up – I worked on a poem that I’m translating from Burmese and sent it through to Sasha Dugdale at Modern Poetry in Translation – sent a couple of questions to Burmese poet to get clarification on a couple of things – went to work of course – and that is about all I got up to this week!

So today’s Sunday Poem is by Ben Parker, another of the poets I met at the Michael Marks award a couple of months ago.  I’ve chosen the first poem in Ben’s pamphlet to feature here today – I absolutely loved this poem when I first read it – I clearly have a thing for animal poems, because I had a similar reaction when I read Chrissy Williams’ bear poem in her pamphlet..

I think this poem has such a unique voice.  It’s completely strange, and slightly surreal.  I think Ben is playing with the idea of the unreliable narrator here because if we disbelieve the narrators assertion that the animal is a horse, if we accept that it is a dog, then it is not surreal really, just strange.  And then we have to accept that the narrator is delusional.  But if we believe the narrator then it is completely surreal.  And the narrator’s voice is so confident – it never says ‘I think’ or ‘we think’ or ‘maybe’.  The voice tells us with complete conviction what is happening.  I loved the fact that it isn’t just a horse that they find, it is the first horse.

This poem comes from Ben’s pamphlet ‘The Escape Artists’ published by Tall Lighthouse.  You can order the pamphlet from the Tall Lighthouse website (who are also accepting submissions by the way for pamphlets I think)

If you would like to find out more about Ben you can have a look at his website

Hope you enjoy the poem and thanks to Ben for letting me use it.

Do you remember that day we found the first horse?
It was skittering the dust in a forgotten field adjacent to
a farmhouse that must have stood forever if not longer.
This was the horse from which all other horses were
bred; the horse of cave-paintings and untranslatable
mythology.  Undomesticated, rough-haired, and small,
it looked more like a mongrel dog.  We took it to the
backyard of our rented ground-floor flat.  Our friends
came over to see it.  That’s a dog, they told us.  We
resolved not to speak to them again. We brought our
horse fresh-cut grass every spring and oats throughout
the winter but it grew thin and restless.  We asked your
uncle, the vet, to inspect it for us.  He took you into a
corner and spoke in a gentle concerned tone, as though
he had forgotten you were an adult.  You sent him away
and cried for a bit.  That evening, to cheer you up, we
watched a documentary on horses and thought how
proud our horse must be to have delivered this noble
race.  Do you remember the day we found the first horse
chewing a rubber ball thrown over by the neighbours?

By Ben Parker

So today’s Sunday


2 comments on “Sunday Poem – Ben Parker

  1. well, here we are: Tuesday morning already, and still feeling baffled by this weeks poem, which tricks the eye into thinking it’s regular in some way or another. Except it’s not…it’s not iambic, it’s not syllabic, the line-breaks seem wilfully arbitrary, so it’s just too odd not to be deliberate. What it does do, for me, is what surrealism can do when it works. Ivor Cutler does it and so does Magritte. What it does is deadpan; it’s a poker-players art. Which is what Kim reads in it too…(and it’s why Dali is such a monstrous failure…all that blowsy theatricality). I’m not sure I like this poem, but I also suspect I’m not meant to.

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