Poetics and Memory Lane

I might have come down off my soap box from last week but it set me on memory lane, as did others things from across the week. As I floated along the path I have already tread I finally sat up and noticed; each time I have encountered something I have not been able to comprehend, I have turned to pen and paper; weaving riddles, living in images as I let my mind run riot over the page or just writing to make sense of the situation.

Five years is a long time to not do any significant level of writing, when once that is all I could think of ever doing. As I said; life gets in the way. Though that is a poor enough excuse, however valid it might have been at the time for me. I remember the emotion I felt living the lives of those characters, penning stills of life in rhyme and poetry and it feels like I burnt out – using all that passion and emotion – leaving none for later on.

Among the incredible lasting effects from my Masters is a single voice. I can hear it ringing through my head, and in one instant it can see me sad, put a smile on my face and give me the strength to believe. That voice belongs Nigel Jenkins; poet, teacher, writer and giver of sage advice. If he was still here, he’d likely agree I spent a year of his poetry classes disagreeing and pulling a face as if I didn’t believe any of it. But that’s the truly sad part, he left us way too early in life in January of this year, and I am sad that I can never truly thank him for his advice ever again, or ever again sit in a Swansea pub and just listen to him telling his stories, because now, I do believe. Believe in my own voice and the tools I can use to harness that voice. I could never write like him, nor would I want to – why emulate something that is already great? Poetic grace is unique to all of us, subjective or not. He taught us the techniques, and I’ll be honest I fell well short of a bardic voice but he was willing to tell me where I was going wrong and where I’d gone right.

At one point, in the second poetry class he asked us to write a particular style poem and wholly unintentionally I wrote a poem not far different in subject to one he had written. Without even reading his! After class he showed me that one and half jokingly asked whether I’d plagiarised the idea, but when I finally read his – in the middle of the Swansea Uni corridor – I burst out laughing. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of his poem but as soon as I can I will dig it out. However, my hilarious moment of lunacy is: Desert and Sunday Dinner.

Nigel, for the fact you where prepared to debate because I disagreed with almost everything and the fact you spent your days encouraging all of us; with the perfect mix of pragmatism added in. At least I found that cassette tape of his poems buried in my bedroom in Wales. He’d been getting rid of them one open mic night because he’d been clearing out and one ended up coming home in my car. It might be old technology but at least it is a recording of that voice that I will always miss!

You might think that I should have lived more first and done the Masters now instead, but it would never work, as frustrating as it often is for many of my long suffering family, friends and teachers, I have always had to come to things on my own. Wall of Fame being a perfect example of that life long trait!

I have always found poetry is like penning a memory, you might be writing about what you see in front of you but you are effectively building a memory, one that can be shared by the reader in the language you use.


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