Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Bumbling by day...

08:00:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , , , , , , , , , , 4 comments
...leaping by night.

Hello language lovers.  It's been a while since I wrote for the blog and I am, as usual, writing under the influence of too little sleep.  I think my subconscious prefers it that way.  I suspect that when I'm tired and closer to sleep it finds it easier to whisper to my bumbling consicous mind, making the obscure connections which some call creativity.

The theme this week is Mad Hatter.  It's a leap, appropriately, from the 'mad as a March hare' phrase to the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice stories.  It's that leap from one element of language to another that I think ties poetry to its original culture and means that poems in translation must be reinterpreted rather than simply translated word for word. 

These leaps are also the foundations of figurative language.  If we're thinking in colour we might leap from the word hatter to the bright orange hair of Tim Burton's Hatter in his film adaptation.  If we're thinking in sound we could leap from hatter to tatters, smatters and batter.  If I think personally, hatter makes me think of tea cups and songs, a large nose and a bit of paper with a price in old money.  It also makes me think of tailors/Taylors and coopers/Coopers and dyers/Dyer whose names recall old and current trades

In Carroll's fantastical linguistic, mathamatical novels, his Hatter is an enigmatic, eccentric fellow who sits alongside similary incomprehensible friends.  These characters seem as confused as our dreams, speaking in rhyme and riddle:

`If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, `you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'
`I don't know what you mean,' said Alice.

`Of course you don't!' the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!'

`Perhaps not,' Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.'

`Ah! that accounts for it,' said the Hatter. `He won't stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he'd do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o'clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you'd only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!' 

I think that when we make creative leaps in our poetry, we are not only trying to communicate as fresh an image as possible, we also emulating the strange associations that our dreams and subconscious mind throw at us when our conscious mind isn't looking.  The conscious mind can only understand the huge web of experience in terms and images that it can recall.  When a poet creates a series of images strung together that ring true to us, and the degree of recognition surely must differ for each one of us,they seem to be speaking to us in the language of the subconsious, that larger, smarter part of ourselves which controls much of our actions but which we do not control.

With that thought looming in the in your ridiculously facile conscious mind, here is a snippet of a poem which speaks to my own creative leaps.  It's an excerpt from Poor Fish by V A Sola Smith which can be found in the Sculpted: Poetry of the North West anthology, edited by Lindsey Holland and Angela Topping:

...a whisper

between the isles of bargain basement food stuff stores,
stealing from the ginnells and cobbled snickets, the not-yet
ghouls, tripping unseen about their fate like the helter
fun house stairs, we rode along the promenade as kids,

waiting for the night to tear across the shore line, faceless
and fearless and one against the jetstream of the whole

If you want to buy Sculpted, it's available direct from the website.



Christo said...

Hi, Vicky, and thanks for the delving article.

There are so many mazes down the Rabbit Hole of Writing which you encourage us to explore.
I'm especially pleased to see your prompt for the SCULPTED Anthology which I know was a labour of love for its editors, and is prefaced by a very thoughtful Introduction by David Morley who teaches Creative Writing at Warwick University, though he hails from Liverpool originally.
His sister has just retired as Chief Feature Writer at Blackpool's Evening Gussett and is now setting up a freelance writing and promotions business.

Shaun Brookes said...

Great post, great comment. You both make me want to network and write so much more!

Lara Clayton said...

I love the image of the helter skelter - something about funfair imagery just sets my mind into flashes of colour and excitement.

Christo Heyworth said...

So do so, Shaun.
I guarantee that when you are 65+ you will spare little time regretting what you HAVE DONE, but far more time regretting what you HAVE NOT done.