Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What is Poetry?

Again I find myself questioning what is poetry? I wrote down some memories that I thought that I might use in my visual practice work and the tutor described them as poems. I suppose that they are poems but I hadn't been sure that they were until then. They are more like snapshots, small glimpses of a child's life.

The gaps between the stairs gape,
cavernous mouths,
like traps,
she is scared of them,
they have thrown her down before
from top to bottom,
clutching a life size baby doll,
whose head rolled off grotesquely,
causing her to scream at its hollow interior.

Helping at the brownie jumble sale aged 9, gave her a feeling of power.
She made some purchases:
2 books – Princess Anne (a novel)
Gulliver’s Travels
a dress that her mum hated but she loved in brown and orange stripes
in the tombola she won: a spray can of Brut 45
an LP – Tjuna Sounds of the living Brass
some bath cubes
her parents tried to look grateful but failed.

A daddy long legs batters its spindly body
against the window in the hallway,
under the glare of a naked light bulb
a girl uses her finger
to sign her name on the misty glass.

Poetry - a literary expression in which words are used in a concentrated blend of sound and imagery to create an emotional response

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What is Scary?

Thanks Richm for the idea of a horror party. I will bear that in mind. This week I have to write a ghost story. I haven't read many ghost stories for years. I was an avid fan of the genre as a teenager and had loads of anthologies of ghost stories. I can remember being really spooked by some of them.

These days there aren't many things that really scare me in a book. Maybe the age of cinema has hardened us up so that we harder to scare. We are certainly exposed to copious amounts of tension and violence via the cinema and tv. A friend of mine said that she finds ghost stories scarier if they are true tales - an interesting point.

The stories I find scariest are post apocolyptic tales where you can almost imagine they are real or could happen - in books this is things like "Day of the Triffids", Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend in a Coma" and Peter Dicksons Changes trilogy, in film it is things like "Children of Men" and Quatermass. Somehow these strike me as being far more chilling than something about monsters or ghosts.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I should be writing my horror story for college or working on my art project - but what am I doing? Thinking about whether or not to have a party for my birthday this year. last year I had one, I hired a room at a pub - it was great, but I was 40. Not sure 41 warrants spending so much money - and also as Hunchermuncher pointed out, would so many people come. However despite all that I am still tempted - partly because I like to boogie and don't often get the chance.

What is it that makes a good party? I was talking about that to someone at college today. We decided that the worst kind of parties are the ones that aren't good but you can't work out why. I have been to a few of those over the years - I remember going to a party once years ago where everyone sat on chairs around the edge of the room and no one spoke to each other.

I think my best ever party was my 21st birthday. I was living in a commune out in the countryside. Hundreds of people came (including a lot of gatecrashers) and we had bands playing, lots of food and a bonfire outside. Not sure I want to do things on that scale these days though....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Horror of Horror

We have been set a hard task at college this week - well for me anyway - to write a horror story in 500-700 words.
I don't think I have ever written a horror story in my life, so this task is even harder than the fairytale we had to write last week. I think I may have to have several attempts before i come up with something passable. It's the starting that is the hardest part.
I suppose when writing in this genre the author should look at what scares them and build on that - for me it's spiders and rats but they just seem too obvious a choice to write about. I did consider writing about something I know about and giving it a twist - a child' guinea pig becomes possessed by a ghost or a demon for instance.
Richard Spurling says show don't tell, which is a good maxim.
"Like all fiction, horror is not going to work unless you can take your reader away into another world. The basic tools and techniques of good writing are as critical in horror as they are in all genres. It could even be argued that the only difference between the genres lies in the emotions targeted."
Basically I believe a horror story works well if a reader can emotionally engage with it - the emotional response usually being along the lines of fear and discomfort.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Art Of Theme and Articulation

I am struggling at the moment to come up with a good theme for this terms poetry. I started off thinking I would use the theme of death and have written several trhat I kind of liked but when I posted them on the bulletin board no one responded at all so I can only surmise that they are rubbish and start over again.

I have also been having an interesting debate both on the bulletin board and with my son over the usage of plurals. I have c ome to realise that although I think I am good at English - my punctuation and grammar skills need a little work. it is one thing to be articulate in speech and quite another to acheive it in the written word.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Something Might Happen

I have just finished reading a really great novel - Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson, this is a sort of murder mystery set in Southwold in Suffolk, but it is so much more than that. It is a gripping and moving tale of the frailty and complexity of family life and human relationships and I found myself at times moved, disturbed, appalled and enthralled by it. At times I had to take my glasses off and cry. I would thoroughly recommend this if you want a good read. I remember reading Sleepwalking by Julie Myerson some years ago and while I did enjoy it I can see from this novel that her writing has improved in leaps and bounds since then. I just hope I can write such a compelling story some day.

Intellectual Snobbery

I was just looking at my last post and thinking am I a bad mother to encourage my son to watch such bad tv? the truth is that in our house we embrace both high and low culture - but with a limit. For instance we sometimes watch Neighbours but we never watch other soaps like Eastenders or Coronation Street. We watch comedy but usually things like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Spaced or Alan Partridge. Is this some kind of intellectual snobbery I wonder - I suppose it probably is.

It's interesting because I came across a lot of this kind of snobbery whilst doing my assignment on media book clubs - for instance chat shows are considered low culture, but they sometimes feature high brow books - some critics say that this devalues the book in some way. I would disagree with this surely it doesn't matter who is reading a book but what they are getting out of it that matters? and as for low brow TV - don't you have to watch it sometimes so that you have a stick to measure the rest by?

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Say what terribly bad manners

I am appalled - I just saw a video - or rather half a video by the band the Towers of London. Why am I appalled? Well for a start both the song and the video seemed to be a direct rip off of Green Day, and secondly I have never seen such a contrived load of ... in my life.

Lets start at the beginning - last week N wanted to watch the opening episode of celebrity Big Brother and as he is 14 I indulged his whim. It was terrible, as usual a couple of people who had actually done something worthwhile and the usual bunch of self promoting has beens and would bes. One of these was Donny Torette from the aforementioned Towers of London, who made a complete tit of himself making rude gestures and swearing at the press as he entered the house. Now don't get me wrong I am not a prude and I like a bad boy just as much as the next girl. But not a contrived bad boy. Everything about Donny Tourette is an an act, it comes across as completely fake. You can just imagine the boys from Towers (being very nice really) sitting around one day saying, we haven't got any musical talent so how can we get famous, ah I know behave as badly as we can, swear at everyone etc etc.

I can't help thinking it's all been done before but with more conviction - anyone remember the Sex Pistols perchance?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wednesday's child is full of...Happiness?

phew I have finally finished my critical studies - I have been working on it solidly for the last four days, that's as well as all the hours of research I have put in. At last I can have a bit of time to do the important things in life - like posting on my blog!

Today I have been thinking about new years resolutions - this year I haven't really made any. mainly because most years I make the same ones and don't keep them. There are lots of things I would like to change in my life though, moving house for one, and being less grumpy when things are busy and stressful. What is it I wonder that makes some people have a happy disposition and some of us less cheerful. Is it conditioning, the way our parents behaved when we were young? or is it some inherent personality trait (the happy gene)?

My guess is that it is a mixture of the two and my excuse...well I was born on a Wednesday and you know how the rhyme goes...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Made by a Real Artist?

I just finished watching the South Bank show featuring Brit artist Damien Hirst and found myself wondering how many of today's more famous artists actually make any of their own work. The show featured interviews with Damien at several of his studios, in each of which, numerous assistants were working on different projects, sometimes it seemed that he didn't know exactly what it was that they were doing. Jeff Koons was also interviewed in his studios and he seemed to have hundreds of staff who were working on massive paintings and sculptures.

I know that artists throughout history have used assistants but I can't help thinking that I have missed the boat. I have tons of art ideas and I make some of them, but I am often limited by time, space and skill. how great it would be to do the preliminary sketches and have someone else to help me realise the dream. Really famous artists seem to go one step further though and produce some canvasses that they have not even touched with a paint brush themselves. is this making a nonsense of the art world? If you were to buy a work of art by a particular artist, wouldn't you want to know that they had at least done some of the work on it?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Books, Books, Books

It's been a very literary christmas in our house this year. Both N and I got lots of books and Hunchermuncher had a few too. N being a 14 year old had several books about computer gane design, a novel about a wolf, a book on the art of the Muppets and a book about Manga. Hunchermunchers selections were Curb Your Enthusiasm, a crossword book and a book on web design. Mine were mostly art and literature, just what I like.

The Writer's Life - Ellen Gilchrist
The Collected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca
The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman
Illumination Night - Alice Hoffman
100 Albums that Changed Music - ed. Sean Egan
Postsecret - Frank Warren
The Picture Book, Contemporary Illumination - ed. Angus Hyland