It's been an interesting week with two highlights I wanted to briefly write about.
Firstly, was a wonderful talk/lecture/reading by the poet Alice Oswald, inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost. She talked openly about the travails of writing to commission, especially in homage to an epic such as Paradise Lost, and how many of her ambitious ideas, and certainties, fell by the wayside.
In the end, she created a relatively short poem, Shadow, that she recanted for the first time to a hushed audience. It managed to capture both the cosmic space-scale and the tiny, quirky exactitudes that make up observed truth - and I don't like to paraphrase but here are two lines that I will now think of when I notice certain shadows -
'it's as if I've interrupted something
that was falling in a straight line from the eye of God'
The poem is printed by The Letter Press and it is inlaid with faint lines of Milton's epic and presented as beautiful folded up letter-poems in an A5 envelope. I am reliably informed they should be available for purchase through the Poetry Society website soon. But it's the words and music that matter (matter being the literal word) and if ever Oswald is reading again I would urge people to take the chance to hear her..
P.S this is probably only relevant to me but I liked the way she had ungroomed hair and no make-up and left her own reading seconds after uttering her last lines (in the pomp of Buckingham Palace no less) to catch her train while everyone else mingled afterwards drinking wine.
There is something profoundly vital about certain voices, and poets, and Oswald perhaps the most elemental of all I have heard read alive. She tends to recite from memory but it is more than that - she is almost oracular, a vehicle for the other, or elsewhere, to channel. She draws power from the wellspring of earth, from a great teeming taproot of existence which sometimes Ted Hughes seemed to do. It's as if she is one ear and listens. I don't know how to define it further..
On another, very different note I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy yesterday. I am very proud of my mother who is part of a collective of five print-makers, named Pine Feroda (I don't know why) - and they have a print at the exhibition. You can find out more about them here - and it was wonderful to recognise my mum's 'hand' in the beautiful galleries, in much the same way you might recognise a poet's voice.
I took some photos of art that inspired me. I love the scratchy edge-of-whimsy of Tracey Emin - it just appeals to my sensibility, I guess. I also enjoyed very much some of the sculpture (see pics below) which captured the heft of this bull head's corporeality, and the gothic qualities of a bird shape. And again the almost-prissiness of embroidery/cross-stitch detailing anatomy. I think the pieces I responded to best were the ones that crossed or transgressed categories.. for example a jerkin woven from a woman's own hair. You could see the little globed hair follicles woven through it like moth eggs..
A wonderful show. I couldn't take in the rooms of paintings by the end as my brain was full but again highly recommended. Here are some pictures of some inspiring things. I also felt inspired (and to some extent tenderness) towards the range of human inventiveness and resourcefulness. How each piece was the product of hours of thought and emotion and craft, and all wonderful multiplicity of creation..how humans will always make things in order to say something..
Me, (with bump) in front of Pine Feroda's 'Looking South' - the rather luminous sea-rock-scape
|Emin - Bird and Fox|
|Not sure how I feel about this - pity?|