Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The squeezed-out conference attender

Well, I'm back from the AUA ( conference up in Nottingham and feel like a squeezed-out sponge. It was well worth going, but these things are always very intensive and it's great to be back.

This isn't going to be a huge blog, I'm afraid (thank God, you all cry!), as I can barely keep my eyes open, and I still have to (a) wash up Lord H's sausage & chips supper (yummy) and (b) unpack. Not to mention the mountain of post to deal with - oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Highlights of the conference: getting an Easter egg as a goodie bag in the second seminar; actually bringing it home unwrapped for Lord H to share with me; having chocolate cheesecake for dinner on the first evening; seeing lambs in the fields next to the M1. Lambs with black legs and white bodies, no less. Ye gods, it must be Easter.

Oh, and a couple of times during the conference I think I almost sounded like a professional. But not for long, I fear.

And I've come back to a lovely review of "A Stranger's Table" ( by Anna Avebury of the Ver Poets Society, as below:

“In this collection, the poet reveals a striking awareness of the power of poetry to enact a ‘strange sea-change’ on the ‘heated substance’ of the reader. The majority of poems are celebrations of the life of the imagination and the senses, skilfully crafted, timely reminders of an aspect of life all too often neglected. A veritable “Ice Dancer” herself, Anne Brooke communicates ‘the danger, the explosion/of words/into ice’. She explores the inner world of personal relationships with an acute awareness of its complexity and is able to share these insights in poems, which are richly sensuous. Nor does she neglect the mundane: “Calling” describes a fridge door crammed with telephone numbers and messages; although she finds the ‘net of community’ ‘unforgiving’ and ‘beyond our calling.’ “Things I fold away” lists not only the obvious ‘briefs, bras, (into nests) … socks, jumpers …’ but also ‘my history, silences … your disapproval … resentment, irritations …’ And ultimately, ‘life’. The last poem in the collection, “The cat’s response to yellow”, captures the elusive nature of inspiration and its transformation into art, leaving the reader pondering the experience of ‘the echo of yellow air.’”

That's kept the smile well and truly on my face.

Oh, and before I left, I finished the poem on Marat:

The Death of Marat: The Studio of Jacques-Louis David

One pale arm hangs down,
gripping a quill
with which he might have written mercy,
while the other holds the letter
that condemned him,
making the unseen woman
a murderess
and him a martyr.

High upon his body,
almost at the collarbone,
a thin trail of blood
trickles down over white skin
to the bath he ran to soothe it.

His head, wrapped in cream cloth,
rests on the nearest shoulder,
eyes closed in peace,
lips half-smiling
as if only asleep
or dreaming.

In line with the tilt of his face,
the woman’s knife lies
his life’s blood still staining
its ivory handle.

And, above,
only the vast, uncharted dark
hangs waiting.

Today's nice things:

1. Coming home
2. The review
3. Lambs.

Anne Brooke

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