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Mirrored Poetic Form

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I cannot for the life of me remember what the technical term for this is, but I have recently become fascinated by mirror poetry – where the first stanza is mirrored in the second. I read a poem of this form in Lucy Burnett’s book of poetry Leaf Graffiti and it’s incredibly clever. I attemped my own version and found it to be very infuriating. I’m not happy with the poem and this is by no means a finished version but if you give this form a go you will realise just how stressful it is to try and write a poem that works well and can be reversed. I have even more respect for Lucy Burnett after trying myself.

Oval – v. the mirror

By Lucy Burnett

 

I’m wearing no clothes. Right this minute, now,

my eyes averted down as though i am ashamed.

Centred in my parents’ room – the door is shut –

a certain sign, a symbolic line of suture. My scar is

six inches long, its darkened, slightly crooked smile

which makes me tilt my head like nurses do.

I slowly stroke the bruises of my swollen side

as I try and figure if the dent I feel is really there.

My skin appears to droop and sad around my fingers

in contrast to the fullness that I felt before.

My fingers knead my new-found lack of symmetry,

a half-aborted womanhood. The doctor promised me

‘the woman left will end up working twice as hard’.

I wonder, catch my own reflected eye, what if?

 

I wonder, catch my own reflected eye, what if

the woman left will end up working twice as hard?

‘A half-aborted womanhood’, the doctor promised me,

my fingers need my newfound lack of symmetry,

in contrast to the fullness that I felt before.

My skin appears to droop and sag around my fingers

as I try and figure if the dent I feel is really there.

I slowly stroke the bruises of my swollen side,

which makes me tilt my head like hurses do.

Six inches long, its darkened, slightly crooked smile

a certain sign , a symbolic line of suture. My scar is

centred in my parents’ room – the door is shut –

my eyes averted down as though I am ashamed.

I’m wearing no clothes. Right this minute. Now.

 

And here is my attempt…

Polarized

ripened flesh, a fruit ready for peel.
that smell like plucked buds or white linen, of
dry lips cracked like burning wood.
the moment I’ve been hoping for.
I thought I heard you say, “this is
the point of no return.”
the short carpetgap boiling between our feet
at room temperature. we reduce to
less than brief clothes could contain. feverish
silence, like sweat it sticks. vulnerability in
a question asked in shapes. the night now
blackened, enlarged, outgrowing all. my words
staccato, splintering into your eyes,
held in lockstare. heart pulses
pushing and pulling to a full stop.
fingertips meet magnetically.

 

fingertips meet magnetically,
pushing and pulling to a full stop.
held in lockstare. heart pulses
staccato, splintering in two. your eyes
blackened, enlarged, outgrowing all my words.
a questioned asked reshapes the night. now
silence. like sweat it sticks. vulnerability in
less than brief clothes could contain, feverish
at room temperature. we reduce to
the short carpetgap boiling between our feet.
the point of no return.
I thought I heard you say, “this is
the moment I’ve been hoping for.”
dry lips cracked like burning wood.
that smell like plucked buds or white linen, of
ripened flesh, a fruit ready for peel.

I welcome all comments and criticisms 🙂

Also, if you liked this post here are some other awesome poetry posts…

 

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Any Poem with Cats is a Poem Worth Reading

il_340x270.457958621_7luy[1]I’ve been reading Emily Berry’s debut book of poetry Dear Boy and I’ve fallen in love with it. She twists a surreal edginess in a pragmatic tone, you seem to begin in one place and end up in another. The narratives lead you through odd, surprising images, comical to a degree. Her phrasing is easy to follow, the simplicity accentuates the absurd in it’s frank manner, for example in one of my favourite poems My Perpendicular Daughter:

                                     …they hung her

upside down inside me: now she sticks

straight out, gets in the way when I stand

close to walls.

 

The role and expectation reversal plays imminently throughout her works, such as the immature parent, or the disturbing doctor. This theme is repeated in The Tea-Party Cats, where power is explored cleverly, the cats admired and the protagonist fearful of her otherness, her “taillessness”. I love the assonance of that neologism, phonologically reminding me of ‘tastelessness’. Images of formality, overt prestige and suave manner intimidate the voice of the poem, but all under an impression of artificiality. I wonder if this poem is exploring the kinds of people that society looks up to, presented as a group of seemingly narcissistic cats, especially the final three lines which conclude by threatening the cats’ previously established ‘perfect’ image. I think there is something about cats that imply a kind of underhand, elegantly deft nature, seen in “whose whiskers nicely referenced their bowties.”

I really respect what Berry has done here because as a writer I find it difficult address issues in this kind of light-hearted tone. Dark and depressing definitely comes easier, but Berry’s poems are playful, genuinely fun to read. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to experiment with. Let me know what you think about this poem, I’d love to hear your view and if you get the chance I would recommend having a flick through the book.

The Tea-Party Cats

by Emily Berry

 

We’re suspicious of the tea-party cats;

we don’t know why. They all turned out so well

today and aired their charming characters;

they were so smart they frightened us to death.

We longed to have their style and easy knack

of fitting in; we feared our taillessness

would show us up, or our sickly looking

skin. We tried our best all afternoon,

but nothing seemed to do – we spilled our tea

into the saucer, we couldn’t think of things

to say, we weren’t as dapper as these cats

whose whiskers nicely referenced their bowties.

We stood in corners, if you want to know,

nibbling biscuits though our mouths were dry.

Some of us slipped away before the end.

I stayed until the speeches, when the cats

thanked each other proudly, proposing

endless toasts; and then one of them exposed

a weakness, but quickly covered it up.

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hello-my-name-is[1]

The Daily Post published a post encouraging bloggers to explore the notion of names. When I read this I knew I had to respond as I changed my whole name, legally, by deed poll. I became transfixed on this idea of changing my name from quite a young age. It began when my much older sister introduced us to one of her friends that first did this. The first couple of times we met him he had one name and few months later it was completely different. By this I mean it had no correlation to his previous name at all, forename, middle name and surname all brand spanking new. I must have only been about 13 when the idea came into my head but from then on I knew that the moment I turned 18 I would too change my name by deed poll.

I won’t divulge my previous name, it wasn’t a bad name, nor did I change my name to distance myself from my family/past or anything like that. I just didn’t like it, and without sounding tacky changing it just ‘felt right’. When you think about it, your name is probably the word you hear most, so you have to like hearing it, and frankly I didn’t like how my name sounded.

The hardest part of changing your name is deciding what you’re going to change it too. I guess most ‘normal’ people have an idea of what they want to change it to, however I just knew I wanted to change it. I spent a lot of time looking through baby name lists, popular name lists, unusual name lists and I kept getting drawn to Alexis, because I’m an avid English student and writer and lamely I liked the ‘lexis’ part. But it didn’t sound quite right. I settled on Elexa because I preferred how it sounded, the ‘x’ being the most important bit. I have no idea why but I love the letter ‘x’, also I am not too fond of the letter ‘a’, so I decided to be different and use an ‘e’.

So that was the forename settled I had to decide on a surname. I wasn’t too fussed on this as I am bit of a traditionalist and always plan on taking my husband’s name when I marry (for a sense of unity not because I feel that this is in any way a subservient act), but for now I wanted something that had meaning but also sounded good as a whole. ‘Rose’ is a verb and noun and I love words that have ambiguous meanings and cross grammatical categories. To get really nerdy, my name, Elexa Rose is an example of the shortest, grammatical sentence, object + verb. Plus, it refers to Shakespeare’s quote from Romeo and Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”

A name is simply that, a name. I changed my name for no great philosophical reason other than how it sounded. I don’t believe it changed my identity, because who you are is in your behaviour, in your ideas, not in what people refer to you as – really it is arbitrary. But still I chose to spend £20 on the deedpoll website and a very long time sending copies of the certificate to and from banks, the government, my university, the DVLA. So why bother? Just because I don’t believe your name really shapes your identity, I still believe it has something to do with your character. Just as naming characters in my work I believe to be very important in shaping the character. I like having a name that is memorable, it stands out from the ordinary and many writers and artists publish work under a pseudonym and I think this helps in creating the ‘character’ that is the writer you aim to be. It changes how people first perceive you. Your name is usually the first thing people learn about you, so why not make it an awesome one.

Getting my friends and family to adjust to my new name wasn’t that hard. I did it at the same time as moving to a new city to begin University, new start, new name, so that helped greatly in the transgression. My old friends from childhood still sometimes call me by my old name, which doesn’t bother me hugely, on the whole 90% of the people I talk to call me Elexa or Lexy so the few who can’t quite change over, it doesn’t matter. It feels weird hearing it now though, it’s strange, when I hear my old name it still catches my ear but not in the same way that is used to. It doesn’t feel like my name any more. Elexa comes more naturally now and I definitely prefer it. It took about a year or two to get fully used to it, but to anyone wondering whether or not to make the change, do it, why not. It’s your name, you should be called whatever you want.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/

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Becoming Elexa Rose

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Blog Test

A new blog, again – I’ve started blogs before and never managed to keep them going but this time I am determined! I want a place to write more about the kinds of stuff I read and what I think about it. I’m also really interested into the the production side of writing and how we read the stuff we do. Such as this whole blogging culture that has sprung – most of the reading we do these days is on screens, a real touch-the-page book is a kind of a novelty. Lit-blogs in particular, there is an abundance of them. I don’t just want to write, but read too. See what’s out there, because I’ve never really delved in too far.

I recently joined twitter (maybe a bit late jumping on the bandwagon?) and there seems to be swarms of good, interesting, well-written blogs being posted every day. A constant flow. And I’m sure there are some bad ones too. But quite frankly I feel like I’ve been missing out a bit so this is me joining the forum. Plus it’s good habit to keep me writing every day, so I may post about progression in my own work as well.

It’s spring, so that’s a good time for beginings. The days a longer and productivity feels higher. And with the last of my degree drawing to a close in just a short space of time, and ‘real life’ looming ahead, hopefully this blog will keep me reading and writing, keep me grounded 🙂

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Beginnings

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