BASTARD

I have often thought of the inhumanity that is forced on women and the stigma that attaches to children by the sins of brute men. This poem is one of the most moving I have ever read.

muna chinedu

image

Bastard

They call you bastard
to make your heart contort
into folds of pain and rejection of yourself
you wish to fall into perpetual coma
you go to your mom to demand your father,
your mom that tied you on her back
and held tight to the thorny fetters of life
your mom that shielded you from bullets
targeted at you, and blinded her left eye
she bows her head, ashamed, rueful,
you feel the push to force her mouth open,
dip your hand into her throat to dredge it up

If you are the bastard,
who then
is the man that planted you into her?
the bastard is wandering about unabused :
the bastard
is that rapist that pounced on your mom
the bastard
is that unknown father
that goes about with his taut manhood
looking for more vulva to devour
the bastard
is that father that does not…

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Poet Interview – Toni Bunnell

toni-bunnell

I first observed Toni in my favourite cafe bar as she laboured away scribbling sentences in a notepad or tapped rapidly on her laptop. I imagined she was a teacher preparing lessons for eager students. After a year or so we were introduced and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Toni was, in fact, an academic,  lecturer, poet, author, songwriter and an accomplished musician. With many books and a range of musical CD’s to her name, Toni is a widely read and respected author and musician. I am pleased to welcome her to our blog this month. I hope that Toni’s experience of the writing world will inspire you and that you will choose to visit her web page and avail of her works.

toni-bunnel_the-nameless-children

Welcome, Toni.

What inspires you to write?

I am pretty much driven to write, having written songs since I was ten. Certain things catch my attention, and propel me into a new storyline.

What is a measure of success as a poet and author?

If the poems or stories that you write are enjoyed, provide an insight into a different world, and reach out and touch one person only, this is surely a measure of their success.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Wordsworth, Byron, Tennyson, Coleridge.

The Supernatural appears in many of your books. What inspires you to write about it?

Since childhood I have tended to occupy a parallel world much of the time. This was generally referred to as ‘daydreaming’ and was greatly frowned upon, particularly as I tended to do this during school hours. Inspiration happens as and when, and I have no hard and fast answer as to why I write in this genre.

You are a singer/songwriter as well as a poet.  What makes a poem or a song good?

If the words, and tune when portrayed as a song, engender the emotions in others that I felt when I wrote the song or poem, then I feel that I have achieved my goal. I tend to rely on feedback, when I perform my songs, regarding whether they are good are not. It is also useful to see if they stand the test of time.

What was the inspiration behind ‘The Nameless Children’? Could you say a bit about it?

With The Nameless Children, my gothic supernatural story, I happened to see a reference to ‘nameless children’ when visiting Howarth and the graveyard at the Brontë House. These two words conjured up a world of mystery and intrigue which drew me in, developing into a story that I would never have imagined in the cold light of day.

What advice would you give aspiring authors and poets?

Don’t waste time wondering about which genre you should write for, or what your intended audience might be, just write from the heart. In addition, don’t spend time developing a plotline, just because you think it is expected of you. This can often be distracting and might serve to suppress the creative spirit within you. Write because you want to.

Running

 

I ran today with the feet of a deer

I ran in my mind so no-one would hear

The thud of my heart as it beat in my chest

Or my soul call out to the East and the West

 

I ran through the deserts where the seas ran dry

I ran where no-one would hear me cry

The wind was my only companion

And stayed by my side as I ran on and on

 

And why do you run the voice inside said?

Do you run from yourself, from the voice in your head?

Or do you try to keep pace with the winds of change

Moving forever with the wind and the rain

 

And an echo came back through the rustling leaves

Finding its way around rocks, around trees

It spoke to the voice that still lingered on

Saying ‘run, if you must; run on and on’

 

For you need to feel the sun on your face

The deep-sounding caves out of time and of space

To go beyond limits where the edges are blurred

For no sense can be made of this parallel world

 

Your spirit must find its own way now

Not stay with the others or run with the crowd

For staying apart is your one saving grace

And being alone will help you find your place

 

© Toni Bunnell 290112

www.tonibunnell.com

April: Keith Terry – Poet Interview.

Debris Inside My Mind

 

KeithTerry

I met Keith in summer 2014. We immediately began a rapport that led me to a deep understanding of his poetic urge, right from the outset; we went on to spend and hour talking about the experiences in his life that had prompted a catharsis for pain, humour and his unique ways of wishing ‘to be’. Keith first wrote ‘First Aid for My Soul’ followed by his extended ‘The Debris Inside My Mind’. Here, in an honest and frank interview, he tells of his journey with the Muse.

What inspires you to write poetry?

My inspiration to write poetry is more often than not, the desire to explain and to release what I am thinking, without having to do it face to face. It is invariably to illustrate the darker or more euphoric thoughts and aspects of life and to express my feelings, emotions and observations.

What is a measure of success as a poet?

A measure of success is often measured in book sales. For me, that could not really be further from the truth, though the occasional royalty cheques are a bonus. The printing of my poems was a mere by-product and publication only icing on metaphorical cake. Success is knowing that something I have written has affected someone in a positive way, or at least begun to understand something of what and who I am, and have become. An example of this is an email I received from a reader, after I began to leave copies of my book on trains, with the label “Please read me!” This resulted in the following email: -I recently fell upon your book on a train from Tamworth to Crewe. I had just been in a job interview and was feeling down with a long journey ahead.The poems were inspiring and beautifully written, changing my outlook on that day. Fate will help me find the right job, and your collection made me thankful for what I have. So thank you! I left the book on my next train between Crewe and Bangor in hope that it reaches another willing reader. There is no greater measure than that.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Rob Stevens (also known as Steven Zarel – stevenzarel.com), writes with such depth and insight. He can be sought out through Word Wizards in Buxton. His style and rhythm is such that his reading of a telephone directory would be enthralling. Greg Lake, (of Emerson Lake and Palmer fame) penned “Daddy”, which is the most profound and moving poem I have ever read.

What about ‘The Debris Inside My Mind? What is special about it? What inspired you to write about it?

The first poem in my book, entitled “My first one”, relates to the investigation and my dealings with the rape and brutal murder of a 14 year old schoolgirl. This violent episode had a traumatic and long lasting effect on my life, culminating in nightmares for over 30 years. The process of putting these feelings into words was so psychotherapeutic, that the nightmares ceased after the poems very first reading out loud. ‘The Debris Inside My Mind’ then became a collection of cathartic meanderings of events throughout my lifetime, and expresses my hopes as well as fears and observations.

What makes a poem good?

The ability to convey thoughts to paper in such a manner that the writer can paint a picture the reader can relate to and find meaningful. Invariably, truthfulness and openness help when writing from the heart.

What have you had published so far?

I have had a few articles published in magazines and many of my documents and video productions are used nationally, however, ‘The Debris Inside My Mind’ is my first published book.

What advice would you give aspiring poets?

Engage a good proof reader! Nothing puts me of moor than simpull speling miss takes and grammatical errors. They can interrupt flow flow and really braking flow off other-wise beautiful thoughts and observations.

Both collections are available from www.amazon.co.uk in one collection on this link.

March: John Atkinson – Poet Interview

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

Today I welcome John Atkinson as our guest poet of the month. I have known John for six years. I met him first at the 80th birthday party of a mutual poet friend. I was immediately struck by John’s depth of thought and application of the word. I have enjoyed countless roundtable sharing sessions with John and, to me, he ranks with the best of the ‘nature poets’ I have ever had the pleasure to read. John is a quintessential  Yorkshire man and his ability with envisioning nature is enticing.

Enjoy ‘Lepus Becoming’ after the interview

Welcome John:

What inspires you to write poetry?

No doubt you’ve heard the saying – ten percent inspiration and ninety per cent perspiration. I’m not sure that this is true all the time, and it does not take into account the little bit at the end, when you sit back, satisfied with a piece of work you feel ready to share with the world. However, before this can happen the first bits of the thought process have to make themselves known – the ideas needed to show the direction to take, searching for the poem – so even the perspiration can be enjoyable. Also I have a desire/ambition to write something that comes as close as I can muster to the writing of my favourite poets. And finally, sometimes I just want to have a communication with as many people as possible about how I have seen some aspect of ordinary life in a non-ordinary way.

What is a measure of success as a poet?

Can I widen your question to include the successes of individual poems. Being published by a well-known publisher, getting work out to a bigger audience, being in demand, these are things to be desired. But how do we measure our own success? Hard to say really; speaking as a little fish in a little pond I think it is important to write for oneself. Be true to your own experiences, keep working on the language as the poetic journey leads you from poem to poem, and look on each step forward as a series of small successes. Like so many things in life it is a journey of discoveries.

I have changed several of my early poems, poems I was pleased with when first I wrote them. One reason for this is, as I try to improve my skills as a writer of poetry, I hope to find better ways of saying – describing – finding the best sounds – and interesting, or unusual metaphors. Of course there can be a danger of overworking a poem. Some poems are started full of enthusiasm and then become difficult to resolve. We need to know when to put something down; come back to it later. And then some poems – hopefully not too many – will be destined for the bin. Norman MacCaig had his two fag rule. He would spend his summers walking in the Western Highlands, taking notes on the nature and places he visited. He took these back to Edinburgh to work into poems. If he couldn’t get the poem as he smoked two cigarettes he threw it away. I suppose any non-smokers who like this approach could boil two eggs. It would be no good for me however, Mr MacCaig was much cleverer than I am; I plod along at my own, rather slow, pace.

However, every once in a while, a poem seems to come out of – what, thin air, the recesses of the unconscious – wherever they come from, for me, these kinds of poems usually come as a piece, are written quickly and you just know you’ve captured something. This is the great payoff for me; it gives such a sense of satisfaction it’s hard to describe. When we create a thing that others relate to, and the words present a new view, a different way of understanding; that is when we have succeeded.

Who are some of your favourite poets?

Dylan Thomas was my first inspiration at age seventeen. I like Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath very much, also the above mentioned Norman MacCaig. Simon Armitage is a wonderful northern voice and I think Carol Ann Duffy has done great things, a first class poet laureate.

Nature appears in many of your poems. What inspires you to write about it?

I was brought up on a farm in the fifties, so I grew up steeped in a countryside more ancient than that of today. I am also knowledgeable about the ways of things natural. When I first read Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill I too became the boy who, had the trees and leaves trail with daisies and barley down the rivers of the windfall light. Even now I am unable to read that poem without a great lump of emotion welling in my throat and seeing him/me revelling in the light on the magical waters.

What makes a poem good?

A hard question, isn’t it in the eye of the beholder? I envy those writers who come up with ideas I would never have thought of in a million years, but really wish I had.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Lepus Becoming’…could you say a bit about it?

The hare is one of my favourite animals, they have unusual proportions, their massive back legs enable them to gallop at great speed. They also have a sense of mystery: the moon-gazing hare, the March hares, boxing and chasing each other round and round – are they mad, or are they just revelling in the joy of being alive? A creature doesn’t have to be aware of an intellectual concept to be able to live it.

The writing of Lepus Becoming started with a little sonnet I wrote about a leveret (baby hare) that I found in a field many years ago. I never forgot the inky blackness of its eyes, or the softness of its fur as I touched it. I wanted to expand on it, build a few sonnets into a theme; at the time each one had its own title (please note; although the three sections of the poem have the correct number of lines for sonnets, and line breaks in places for the so-called turn, or volta, they do not have the strict rhyme scheme of the traditional sonnet form)

For the next one I delved into history: the Romans bringing rabbits, the hares natural enemy, to Britain(archaeology has now proved this as fact) then I went back to the end of the last ice age, when Britain was joined to the European land mass, then a reference to the mythology of Eostre, a Celtic fertility goddess whose name, and Spring festival, were taken over for the Christian festival of Easter (the same date, which, interestingly, is still fixed by the phases of the moon)

I stayed with the historical slant in the next section but brought it up to a more recent period, touching on the history and mechanisation of agriculture. At this point ,I realised that my little leveret sonnet didn’t fit into where I was going with the poem so I took it out. It is now a separate poem that I am very fond of.

I started on what became the third section, changed the title to Lepus Becoming, one poem in three parts, starting with the Romans. Another thing that happened at this stage, I came across a book called The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone interested in hares and the folk-law surrounding them. As the final section took shape I used the names of the hare, from Evans’ book, coupled with my partial knowledge of the constellations and some interesting ideas, slightly modified, from Gnostic Christianity, to form a mythological synthesis about the beginnings, becomings and endings of my trains of thought on the splendid creature that is hare.

What advice would you give aspiring poets?

Read as much good poetry as you can, even poets you find difficult to begin with – I’m not very good at this – must try harder. My friend John takes his favourite poems for walks. When he visits a special place he will have selected a poem to read there – a special poem in a special place – what could possibly go wrong? One thing which we may find hard is criticism. It can be very useful if done well, so don’t be too precious about your “darlings” Poems, like everything in the perceived world, exist in a state of change, until they’re published that is. Just keep on reading and writing. Good luck.

Lepus Becoming

The Glory that was Rome marched north and westward,

boarding boats to reach these shores. In addition to carnage

and death the legions carried a living larder of rabbits

and snails; also an idea there was one God only to rule

over Heaven and Earth, but he had a son made of flesh.

Hare, on the other hand, arrived before the North Sea gave rise

to shores, or a need for boats, so he loped across the lost land

from God knows where. Later, famously moon-struck,

becomes the favourite of Eostre, and who can blame her?

 

Beneath the face of a paschal moon he tries to forget

his many sorrows: the rabbits, who – like Romans –

permit no competition, kill and eat the brains of his young;

and equally multiplying, the followers of God’s son,

stealing his mistress’s birthday to mourn a singular death.

 

*               *               *

 

The swish of keen scythes could be heard when hand

followed hand, cutting swathes in successive arcs, each

described by the snaith’s wooden curves, bent around

the three dimensions. And gritty against peened edges, a rub

of carbide stones on thousands of blades, ends worn thin

by long summers of the mowers’ measured strokes; once

their grating sounds scraped across the fields of England.

Then the clatter-clat song of a reaper’s cutter-bar, then

the thrum of the combine’s deafening drum. All have sung

and turned about the falling stands of corn, where shapes

of men waited down the ages with sticks and guns.

 

Deep in a cover of crop concealed ears quiver.

A nose twitches to windward, smells the scent of danger.

Soon my timid friend your time to run will come.

 

                  *               *               *

 

Owd Sally, Grimalkin, Moll, Mawkin, Jack-o-the-stubble

Furze-cat, Swift-as-wind; there are places where his names

are not spoken lest it bring ill luck on those whose auguries

place him badly. Orion would invoke him, invite him

to the hunt, to race celestial hounds, outrun them if he can.

He’ll make a maze of his own scent in turns and sweeps,

retrace his steps, jump walls, dykes, hide in flocks of sheep

until the dogs have lost him. Chased and chasing across

the meat-eating Earth, his great heart pumps, to arteries,

muscle and lungs. But he must tire, and when he does, go

fetch a cooking pot, build a fire to roast a body,

mix blood and wine; after this feast he will become man.

 

If there is a familiar to guide us at our end I would like

mine to be hare, running beside me, leaping between worlds.

 

Barefoot in the snow

The Silent Eye

footprints-man-beach-morning

Have you ever walked along the water’s edge in wet sand, leaving behind a transient trail of footprints that will be washed away by the sea? The image is an evocative one, though a little trite perhaps. Many have seen it as an illustration of the fleeting and impermanent nature of our passage through the world.

Although there may be few things more wonderful than walking through warm shallows and laughing at the sun, that too brings an image of life to mind. The shallows are comfortable, they are safe and known, the point where land and water meet. We experience both without leaving our own natural element. We don’t even need to adjust much, simply take of the shoes and walk. At worst we risk stepping on a shard of shell. But we feel the caress of the waves on our skin and the shifting tides echoing in our…

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