Category Archives: poetry

Seven Percent

As I wrote it, I thought the title seemed familiar. Entering “Seven Percent” into Google confirms that it was the title of a Sherlock Holmes film, though one of the later stories. That’s “later” as in after Conan Doyle died, though I do note that the seven percent solution was mentioned in some of the original stories.

That is just a diversion, the real purpose of the title is to report progress on my 100 Post/100 Day challenge.

I’m sure Derrick J Knight and Tootlepedal have posted for years with no interruption. I have managed over 100 days of successive posting several times but I’m not as well-organised as they are. I’ve also noticed a difference since I started work again – after a hard six hour day battering a keyboard and posting parcels I often find I’m too tired to post. I’m getting soft, which is one of the reasons for the challenge and its public announcement.

I’ve been practising my poetry skills for the last couple of years and trying to write something every day. It’s been hard work getting back into practice and I’m not sure I’ve really returned to my levels of 14 years ago when I had my other, brief, career as a poet.

That, plus the blog, was as much writing as I could comfortably do.

The rot set in when I started looking at ebay as part of the process of getting back to work. That takes more time than you’d think, even though a lot of it isn’t really productive.

Add a job to that, even if it is only six hours a day, and the catering and blogging have been suffering. Hence the need for a challenge.

It came about because I needed more haiku practice. Someone had written a blog detailing their challenge of writing 100 haiku in 100 days, and the benefits they gained. I thought I might try that, as I need the practice and polish, but before I started, I read this.

My report on the 1,000 Hiku challenge is that I’m five days in, and I’m ahead of the count. I’m already learning a lot, but that’s a discussion for another day, though one of the things I’ve learnt is that I really ought to stop taking this sort of thing on, and I should stop telling people I’m doing it.

100 in 100 days would have been plenty…

 

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Sumac Tree and Sunshine

For pictures I’ve used two pictures of the sumac tree in the MENCAP gardens – I’ve used them both recently but not together. They are about two weeks apart.

Time is passing.

 

 

A Garden Visitor

We sat and drank coffee from a flask before getting on with the serious work of the day. Today we had Jaffa cakes.

Look who came to sort through the woodchip, shortly after robbing the bird feeder.

 

Sometimes it’s good to stand and stare as a preparation for the day. The poem actually mentions squirrels, something which I’d actually forgotten since the last time I read it.

Then I went to work and started listing medallions. I was still at it when we packed up for the day.

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Lots and lots of medallions…

Tonight, I expect, I will dream about medallions…

Back in the Game

You may recall me mentioning that I’d had a haiku accepted for publication two weeks ago.

You should do, I mentioned it enough.

I then sent a few off to another magazine. I thought several of them were better than the one that had been accepted, so I was quietly confident about getting another one accepted.

Unfortunately, I didn’t.

That happens, and alongside the quiet confidence I always try to keep a sense of reality. After all, if it was easy everyone would do it.

Anyway, not only did I get rejected, I was advised by the editor not to be downhearted because competion made it tough to get into the magazine.

I could live with that.

It was the next bit that twisted the knife. He advised me to read the magazine and write something suitable. Well, thanks to the internet I had been reading the magazine and I had thought that I’d submitted something suitable.

Apparantly not. Apparantly I had completely missed the point.

So I entered a deep depression and started an internal monologue telling me I was rubbish and should give up. This was possibly an over-reaction but we can’t all be well-balanced.

It was made worse by the realisation that I had set the bar high. Possibly too high. Stretching yourself is one thing, but arrogantly setting out to target the top magazines is embarrassing when it doesn’t work.

Rather than prolong the agony, I will just tell you that everything is fine now. I have read some articles about how to write better haiku, including some written by people who don’t know. Some of them even admit they don’t know. Some of them don’t admit it, but their haiku examples show it.

That’s the trouble with the internet – lots of words and lots of people who really should be disconnected.

I’ve actually written a couple of haiku that are probably better than the ones I had rejected, so it’s been a positive experience.

I’ve also had an email telling me I have just had two haibun accepted. Not just one, but two. And I had a pleasant note from the editor, which restored my faith in editors.

Looks like I may be on the right track after all.

 

 

 

Lack of Sleep and an Accidental Poem

After rising at 4.40 am yesterday I expected to sleep well last night. I didn’t.

First waking at 3am I was up again at 4.30, 5.30 and 7.30. Good bit of planning there – I missed 6.30 and slept through the alarm.

You’d have thought that after 60 years I’d have got the hang of sleeping, but it appears not.

As part of my cruise through poetry I now know that if I add a haiku to this post (and grandiloquently call the post an essay) it becomes a Japanese-style poem called a haibun.

Following on from yesterday’s condensed sonnet I’m going to condense another well known poem into haiku form. I originally tried to condense Daffodils, but it kept trying to turn itself into a Limerick. This one worked better. If I acknowledge a debt to John Keats it will reveal the base poem, even if the first line doesn’t.

mist and fruitfulness

poppies and the cider press

swallows gathering

It even falls into 5-7-5 format, even though I wasn’t aiming for it.

 

Things Fall into Place

Sorry, in the earlier version of this post I may have been a bit sloppy and given the impression that the haiku I wrote was the one in this post. In fact I did write the haiku in the post, but merely by taking words from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19 to illustrate how he used a lot of words that he could have used for something else.

My haiku, which won’t be published until October, is not as good. Though it does have ducks in it.

I just had a poem accepted for publication, my first in fourteen years.

This isn’t as bad as it may seem at first glance, as I actually didn’t submit anything for fourteen years. After a few years of limbering up and writing limericks I decided to give it a try again.

The first two submissions came back so fast it felt like they were on elastic. In the days when we had to use post it was all much more stately. So I tried again and seem to have sneaked in under the quality bar.

It’s only a haiku as I’m famously lazy and can’t see any point in writing more than I have to. Three lines, ten words, fourteen syllables, no rhymes.

In terms of effort it beats a sonnet hands down.

This is Sonnet 18 cut down to a haiku. It’s ninety-nine words shorter and though it’s not going to achieve immortality, it’s an example of what Shakespeare could have done if he’d have set his mind to it.

(Looking at it, I wish I’d thought of doing this sooner as it’s a lot easier than writing one from scratch).

a summer’s day

rough winds shake buds of May

eternal lines

If Shakespeare had written haiku instead of messing about with sonnets he’d have had more time to write things like a spin-off from Henry V where Sir John Falstaff opens up a small hotel on the south coast, with hilarious consequences. Falstaff Towers could have been so good…

 

Haiku, clerihu and an idle moment

I’ve successfully procrastinated the morning away since dropping Julia at work. I blogged, I slept, I composed twelve haiku on modern subjects, I reflected on Clerihews and their superiority to haiku and I replied to a few comments. I even read one post from someone else. It was fascinating, though it didn’t seem promising at first. Try Repro Arts of Great Yarmouth. It’s a print shop, but one that has made at least one fascinating blog post. I say “at least” because I have not yet read any of the others. They may all be fascinating, but in line with my theme for the morning, I’m going to read the rest later.

I recently invented a new poetic form – the haiklerihew. So far the world’s stock of haiklerihews is one. It’s probably all we need. I’m thinking I might have a crack at the clerihu next, though amalgamating a four line humorous poem nobody values with a three line nature poem that people are very serious about could take some doing.

 

from ancient Japan we have Basho

who never has gone out of fashion

deep in the woodlands

a nature cliche gestates

serious poem

 

I’ve amalgamated the first two lines of the clerihew, with the name, then added a haiku underneath. Clerihews, for those of you who have missed previous efforts, are allowed to be bad in terms of rhyme and scansion. I think I have achieved that here.

The haiku is a bit unkind, but some of them are a bit cliched in terms of the nature reference – I know mine are. I’ve used the 5-7-5 syllable format which is now seen as a bit old-fashioned – that way you can tell it’s a haiku. I had to change woods to woodlands to get the five in the first line, which is in the bad poetry tradition of the Clerihew.

All in all, a satisfactory poetic form, and much better than the haiklerihew.

I’m now going to brace myself for death threats from haiku poets.

Writers of Clerihews are much more laid back.