Re-engaging with Lawrence Durrell’s ‘Alexandria Quartet’ recently has sent me back to exploring the poems of C.P. Cavafy. This is one of several image/poems I’ve written before and since our recent Cavafy workshop.
I’m very pleased to announce that my poem The Apotheosis of Colonel P.H.Fawcett has won a prize in the 2013 flamingofeather poetry competition.
Colonel Fawcett was an English explorer who disappeared in the Matto Grosso area of Brazil in 1925 while in search of an ancient city he referred to as ‘Z’. I first came across him when I was a boy reading Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming (brother of Ian Fleming). Peter Fleming set out to discover what happened to Fawcett but, along with other expeditions before and after, failed to do so. Years later, I read Expedition Fawcett, by one of Fawcett’s sons, which rounded out my understanding of the man. I wrote the poem earlier this year.
flamingofeather have put the poem on their website and this is the link to it:
Trying to get away from stereotypical ideas of what might make a stanza ahead of a poetry workshop I’m leading later this month, I have come up with a structure that I think may be original and which a few experiments of my own so far have shown to be fruitful.
I call it the five digit stanza, not because it consists of five numbers, but because the line lengths follow the finger lengths of the left hand, starting from a ‘wrist margin’. The structure is very effective, and with enjambements proves very flexible. Here’s my poem ‘Starlings’ to illustrate the form.
As dusk fell, the last cars
were boarding the ferry, and passengers,
no longer cramped, spread themselves in the lounge.
Headlines in English newspapers depicted
the bright, urgent landscapes of home.
I stood on the afterdeck as the sky
darkened with starlings. They rose, sank,
circled in great swarms, the shapeshifting abstract of love,
perfectly formed, that as the bow doors
clanged to, embraced the whole town.
The form is a delight to work in, and I hope others will find it of interest.
I’m delighted that poetry i.d. have asked me to read from and talk about my latest collection of poems at The Settlement, Nevell’s Road, Letchworth Garden City on 3 May. The collection is called ‘On the Blue Cliff’ and it consists of 100 poems based on the 100 koans of the Japanese ‘Hekiganroku’ or Blue Cliff Record. The evening is open to friends of poetry id and to interested members of the public.