Archive for June, 2008

in progress – May (2)

June 10, 2008

This time of year, when the moon is a smudge in the sky above bare trees, as though it were an afterthought, a mark left on the blue from something that isn’t there anymore. May’s jewellery is gold and ruby, platinum and diamond. Frost curling the edge of the air. The rolling crunch of acorns underfoot. The gutters and footpaths heaped with the season’s discarded wrappers, their colours stolen from the sunset. Blackbirds singing praise from every chimney-pot. As though we were blind, as though we hadn’t noticed.

autumn gust –
a swirl of leaves stopped
by the traffic lights

for Marina Bonomi


I went back and played with this one a bit, trying various suggestions. It came down to a question of intention: what was I trying to do? What effect did I want? And what was the relationship of prose to haiku?

Much as I enjoyed the Haibuneer’s ideas of enhancing the personification of the month (how did I not notice the run of three names before?!), I decided that doing so flattened out the mood shift between prose and haiku. The haiku is potentially light-weight, almost senryu. I want readers to see that it is also accurate. I needed to keep that sense of giddiness under control a it more. So May the person has been pulled back.

I shifted the reference to the blackbirds to the end to try and avoid the “noun and noun” pattern that was set up with the description of May’s jewellery. I also brought the “As if we hadn’t noticed” bit to the end – it follows from the blackbirds, and I do still need it. Partly to bring the reader to an awareness of human viewers, but also to prepare better for the transition to the haiku.

As always, I welcome people’s thoughts!

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in progress – Falls (part 2)

June 6, 2008

I took “Falls” to my first reader today. Very helpful. And frustrating. Oh well.

The main problem seems to be with signaling that phrases like “the ridge where ash trees grow” are actually the meanings of the various place names. I did originally have the meanings in quotation marks, but it looks ugly. So … italics? Does that come across clearly enough?

The three versions of this paragraph (yes, I’ve cut out Hawes):

V1:
The place names are ancient, and shape our lips to summon the alien past: Keld, Askrigg, Swinithwaite; the spring, the ridge where ash trees grow, the clearing made by burning. And Aysgarth of the falls; gap in the hills where oak trees stand.

V2:
The place names are ancient, and shape our lips to summon the alien past: Keld, Askrigg, Swinithwaite; “the spring”, “the ridge where ash trees grow”, “the clearing made by burning”. And Aysgarth of the falls; “gap in the hills where oak trees stand”.

V3:
The place names are ancient, and shape our lips to summon the alien past: Keld, Askrigg, Swinithwaite; the spring, the ridge where ash trees grow, the clearing made by burning. And Aysgarth of the falls; gap in the hills where oak trees stand.

Trying to find the balance between subtlety and clarity is a real struggle sometimes. Hmm.