The Poetry Place

Open Studio

A writer's blog

Trevor Millum, Teachit poet in residenceThe aim of the blog is to try to show the process of writing. It's a bit artificial because you can't reproduce all the thoughts and crossings out that take place either metaphorically or literally.   

However, it might help to show students that poems do not spring fully-formed onto the page. 

Previous blogs are archived: see the list at the right of the page.  Quite a few have been inspired by existing poems (by Edward Thomas, Duffy, Heaney, Armitage and others) and there are also villanelles, sonnets and lots of light verse.  I enjoy this - and it keeps me writing!  Any comments welcome.

 

Sunday, 10 July 2016 14:35:25

Sunday, 10 July 2016 14:35:25

Still cutting away at my original notes:

Easy climbing as far as the turn ups of his trousers

with a little effort I can clamber onto them

and consider the next part of the climb

It’s arduous.

A steep climb up navy blue trousers,

just enough creases for hand and foot-holds.

At the knee, I can pause.

I think lines 4 and 5 can be combined:

It's an arduous steep climb up navy blue trousers

 



Climbing my dad

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 15:26:20

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 15:26:20

I'm finding this quite difficult. But need to make a start. The italics are the original notes. To begin with I am just trying to consolidate - to get rid of anything superfluous>

He is sitting in his chair, the one he made himself.

He sits in the chair that he made himself

It is unlike any other.

A chair unlike any other

Worn now and though very upright and angular,

Square and upright with solid arms

Worn into familiar comfort.

In the next section I have changed handhold to grip as handhold is repeated later and there's some unexpected alliteration I may as well make use of. 

I gain a grip where the black leather of his boot

meets the solid sole,

still with soil attached.

A hanging black lace gives a handhold

and up I go onto the jungle of eyelets and ties. 

 



Climbing my dad

Friday, 1 July 2016 15:58:47

Friday, 1 July 2016 15:58:47
I think there's enough material here now for me to start trying to mould it into a shape. Sometimes that's what poetry writing is like - taking lots of raw material and sculpting it. 


Climbing my dad

Monday, 27 June 2016 10:57:22

Monday, 27 June 2016 10:57:22

From the shirt pocket up to the collar is easy, though he's removed his collar and only the collarless shirt top remains. That's OK. There are a few stray hairs to get hold of here and I can haul myself up the craggy neck hand over hand towards the ear. It's tricky but once I'm over the ear lobe I'm safe inside the cave of his ear which, too, has a few bristly hairs.  Should I venture out across his cheeks? 

 



Climbing my dad

Friday, 17 June 2016 09:38:14

Friday, 17 June 2016 09:38:14
The next part is arduous. A steep climb up those navy blue trousers, with just enough creases for hand and foot-holds. At the knee, I can pause. There is a wide plateau of his gardening apron with the cave of a pocket which might contain anything from secateurs to bits of string to a cutting from a rose. I don't go in. He's removed his jacket and the climb is made easier by the shirt and braces. I can squirm between the two and make my way up, resting on the lip of the shirt pocket to get my breath.


Climbing my dad

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 10:25:52

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 10:25:52

I might as well begin where the climb begins - at the shoes or rather boots. On special occasions my dad would wear shoes but I remember him best in boots or slippers. 

First a handhold where the black leather meets the solid sole, still with some bits of soil attached. He is sitting in his chair, the one he made himself. It is unlike any other. Worn now and though very upright and angular, comfortable. No one else uses the chair.  A hanging black lace gives a handhold and up I go onto the jungle of eyelets and ties. It makes easy climbing as far as the turn ups of his trousers, where with a little effort I can clamber and consider the next part of the climb.

At the moment I am finding it easier to write this as a prose account. I'll see whether it will transform into a poem later. And if not, I will leave it as prose. Sometimes you just don't know.

 



Climbing my dad

Friday, 10 June 2016 14:45:09

Friday, 10 June 2016 14:45:09

Some notes to begin with...

Boots - self-repaired - heavy duty
Dark trousers then the gardening apron - navy blue, with a big pocket for secateurs, wire, string...
A mixture of apron and jacket, a white shirt without a collar
brown skin, wrinkles, a bit of stubble, a nice smiling mouth...eyes - brown  and big bushy eyebrows... dark hair then bald head



Climbing my .......

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 12:14:58

Wednesday, 8 June 2016 12:14:58

Waterhouse's 'Climbing My Grandfather' grabbed my attention and made me think that I might do something similar. Mine, though, would have to be about my dad rather than my grandfathers, neither of whom I recall very clearly.

Once again, I'll need to gather memories and do some jotting first....



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