In previous posts I have referred to the poetry group I attend, the Dread Poets, who meet monthly to share and support each other's work. An aspect of the group that works well for me is the setting of a theme to write to and I have posted some of my efforts on these pages in previous months. Members take turns in selecting the theme and the topics are never easy, nor should they be, if we are to continue to challenge and extend ourselves as poets. The word for this month is 'ochre' and it's taken me a week or more to be inspired by this - or inspired to write on this subject. I've now written the draft of three linked poems that I'm quite pleased with but, more importantly, these are poems I would never otherwise have written without this prompt.
Another activity introduced this year is the monthly presentations on anything to do with poetry with rotational facilitation by members. These activities can range from workshopping an element of poetry, studying the work of a particular poet, to free writing exercises to a word or phrase - the topic is determined by the facilitator for that month. This sharing of skills is intended as a learning venture,as well as an opportunity to build the poet's confidence in their art. For the February meeting I will be presenting a session on erasure poetry, something I've developed a growing interest in.
What is erasure Poetry?
All poetry is fragment: it is shaped by its breakages, at every turn. It is the very art of turnings, toward the white frame of the page, toward the unsung, toward the vacancy made visible, that wordlessness in which our words are couched. [Heather McHugh, “What We Make of Fragments,” Broken English, P. 75]
While the following excerpt from Treasure Island is not the
passage I'll be presenting at the poetry group, I thought it
offered scope for practice for those wanting to give it a go.
On the night before the funeral he was as drunk as ever; and it was shocking, in that house of mourning, to hear him singing away at his ugly old sea-song; but weak as he was, we were all in the fear of death for him, and the doctor was suddenly taken up with a case many miles away and was never near the house after my father’s death. I have said the captain was weak, and indeed he seemed rather to grow weaker than regain his strength. He clambered up and down stairs, and went from the parlour to the bar and back again, and sometimes put his nose out of doors to smell the sea, holding on to the walls as he went for support and breathing hard and fast like a man on a steep mountain. He never particularly addressed me, and it is my belief he had as good as forgotten his confidences; but his temper was more flighty, and allowing for his bodily weakness, more violent than ever. He had an alarming way now when he was drunk of drawing his cutlass and laying it bare before him on the table. But with all that, he minded people less and seemed shut up in his own thoughts and rather wandering.
Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island (p. 15). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
On the night
that house of mourning
in the fear of death
the captain clambered
from the parlour
and back again
his temper flighty, violent
on the table