Tomorrow we leave for London*, where we will house-sit for three and a half weeks. Which feels like a gift from the gods, and I hope to use it wisely, thus, as well as the usual clothes, camera, and bathroom paraphernalia, I’ve packed these:
and hope I haven’t missed anything crucial. My plan being to work on my poems to the point where they’re ready to be sent off to magazines for rejection – it really is time I started collecting rejections in earnest – so I reckon I’ll need lots of poetry to keep me focussed and, quite frankly, to remind me of the variety of ways it can be done. One of the tools I’m thinking about using to get deep into the mechanics of poetry is the cento, a poetic collage made from the lines of other poets. I quite like the idea of getting T.S. Elliot into a dialogue with Morgan Parker; or John Berger with Gertrude Stein; or Sylvia Plath with Kei Miller, and so it goes. I’ve been meaning to play with this form for months, but I think I’ve been a bit afraid of trying, though no idea why that might be. To take the sting out of it, yesterday I picked ten random lines from ten random poets (5 of each male and female) and just wrote the lines out as I came to them:
As umbrella as catch can
totally abashed and smiling
there grows a fearful stain
bad dogs barking loud
what loss might feel like
we can find no scar
of Oreb, or of Sinai didst inspire
ripple in people’s mouths
yet indulge no regret
With luck I’ll just do it daily, as a learning exercise. I still have masses to learn about this form, and I’m determined to keep at it.
The other thing I want to indulge in while in the capital is the flaneur’s art, so I’m fermenting the notion of walking its streets as much as possible. To give some structure to this idea I thought I’d attempt to walk from London Bridge to as many bookshops as I can locate,** and then write about the experience al la Virginia Woolf in her essay ‘Street Haunting: A London Adventure’, or Frank O’Hara with his Lunch Poems. And use that as the basis for a small blog-post each night.
I do hope that I don’t disappoint myself by spending too much time luxuriating in the garden*** achieving nothing.
Header image from Vogue’s list of the best bookshops in London.
*Actually Blackheath, one of its suburbs, rather than the centre, which will, hopefully, suit D better than being in the thick of it – he’ll be able to retreat to the garden when tired of the concrete and steel and endless people rushing around.
**Not all in one day!
***We don’t have a garden and, after six and a half years here, I still miss the comfort of a private outdoor space, so I’m really looking forward to this temporary reprieve.