Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's been a long week

I noticed something for the first time this morning, something pretty banal really, but also something that shifted my mood from one of gloomy introspection to one of expansive joy.

The sun was shining at a wintry angle through Burgess park, one of the largest parks in London but also one of the least loved.

The yellow light was warming the grass and bringing out an extra level of greenness somehow, but in the long shadows cast by trees there was a thick white frost.

The shadows were roughly tree-shaped because they were the shadows of trees. So the frosty places were also tree-shaped.

As I noticed this I walked closer to the trees, Blackthorns I think. They were full of white blossom, the otherwise naked branches black against a blue sky.

As I came closer still my pace slowed and dark shapes stirred into crows that staggered away through the icy air towards the park interior. They left behind a dusting of snowy petals that fell onto the path around me.

I was reminded of a day in Richmond Park several years ago. Mary and I stood and watched a pond freeze before our eyes. A fierce winter breeze shivered the surface. Then we began to see geometric shapes appear. You could actually see the moments when the curved shapes of ripples froze into lines of ice. I was younger then and had a lot more time on my hands. I spent the next few months trying to fix that experience into lines of verse. I failed repeatedly until a moment of joy became a painful reminder of my limits as a writer.

Walking in today I still feel the need to try and fix the experience in place with words. But my failure to do so is less frustrating than it used to be. I used to see words as cages for experience. Now I see them more as cats eyes on a dark road...or the stars above a small boat, far out at sea...


  1. Angela don't, you'll only encourage him.

  2. Agreed.

    "The shadows were roughly tree-shaped because they were the shadows of trees."

    But seriously,
    Matthew: why starve all alone in your little garret?

    Have a look at: (or follow the links) (Mimi Khalvati's "Versification" course is highly recommended), or maybe
    I could go one but imagine

    these are all in C&P's local area and cater for anything from the longer term course-type, to the one-off workshop for those with limited time. Even online feedback from a mentor.

    Go on. No excuses. Persist. Ignore the non-dreamers.

  3. Passingpoet, thanks for the info but if you'd actually passed by C&P before you'd know that we did a monthly poetry night for our first two years with not only Mimi but loads of poets from the poetry school reading as well as Dalgit Nagra and Dannie Abse among others. We also gave the students of the Poetry School 10% off their first purchase at C&P but only one student took us up on the offer. We also did a launch party for a Spread The Word event.

    So thanks once again for keeping an eye out for us but I reckon we had that one covered already.

  4. No no, you misunderstand. This was an invitation to aid Matthew's development (as a poet), because his potential (as a poet) is obvious in his writing.

    I did go to a couple of those readings, including Daljit's. But selling books and being kind enough to host poetry events do not make you a poet.

  5. Passingpoet, sorry to be touchy but they're digging up the road outside and it's been a particularly full on morning.

    As for Matthews development as a poet... well I'll leave that up to him!

  6. Wow - thanks Angela.

    And thanks passingpoet.

    And thanks Adam, 'cos it was your post about There Will Be Blood that made me feel like writing something kind of serious for a change...