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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!

Learning a b c and Ps and Qs

Thursday, 16 October 2014 18:38:44

Thursday, 16 October 2014 18:38:44

Here's a different take on the same subject:-

I literally learned my ps and qs –

The p was odd

and there was a very funny zed

2 3 and 4 times tables 

on the high classroom walls

way above my head

When I got them wrong

I had to come back after school

Miss Francis said

But times weren’t so tough

mental arithmetic - sums - and comp

we had no homework to do

before we went to bed



Autumn School memories

Friday, 10 October 2014 13:43:00

Friday, 10 October 2014 13:43:00

I'm happier with this now.  And the final three lines just came to me as the way to end it.  I still have another version in mind, though.

I can still see them
 the smudges on the tramlines
 where the tail of a g or a p
 didn't go right
 and a rub with a damp finger
  only made things worse

I can see the numbers on the wall
  pastel circles making patterns
  reminding me of dice or dominoes
  helping us to recall
  four threes are twelve

I can see the coat pegs in rows
Crammed with winter clothes
And the little queue of milk bottles
Lined up like soldiers and
Thawing by the stove

What I cannot see is me
Shy, not quite sure what’s
Going on – or why.

 



Tuesday, 7 October 2014 14:21:51

Tuesday, 7 October 2014 14:21:51

Oops!

Something went wrong there. My fault I think. But it means I've lost the entry where I managed to get the first two verses into shape.

Such are the perils of using digital means rather than a pen and paper!

I will try to reconstruct them...

Later: success!!

I can still see them
 the smudges on the tramlines
 where the tail of a g or a p
 didn't go right
 and a rub with a damp finger
  made things worse

I can see the numbers on the wall
  pastel circles making patterns
  reminding me of dice or dominoes
  helping us to recall
  four threes are twelve



Saturday, 4 October 2014 15:56:49

Saturday, 4 October 2014 15:56:49

What else can I see? Ah yes...

I can see the coat pegs in rows
And the little queue of milk bottles
Lined up by the corner stove

- I need to add something to that first line:

I can see the coat pegs in rows
Crammed with winter clothes
And the little queue of milk bottles
Lined up by the corner stove

I can see the coat pegs in rows
Crammed with winter clothes
And the little queue of milk bottles
Lined up by the corner stove

No -
Thawing by the stove is better.  One more line:

I can see the coat pegs in rows
Crammed with winter clothes
And the little queue of milk bottles
Lined up like soldiers and
Thawing by the stove

 



Autumn memories

Thursday, 2 October 2014 18:24:42

Thursday, 2 October 2014 18:24:42

Edging towards finding a structure for this. You know how difficult I find free verse!


I can still see them
the smudges on the tramlines
where the tail of a g or a p
didn't go right

and all made worse by the licked finger
trying to fix it

it never works and only serves
to annoy teacher
and earn a rebuke

why not give us pencils with a decent point?
ah yes  1950s health and safety



Early school memories

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 16:58:00

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 16:58:00

New title as I home in.   It's not that I'll necessarily use any of the notes I've made but they did trigger more memories and some increasingly specific ones about writing. Very early days of writing, too.

smudges on tramlines  where the tail of the g didn't go right

the pencil getting blunter   the wet finger making it worse  a telling off in store

more ps and qs - and a very funny zed

2 and 3 times tables   dice numbers on the wall in pastel circles

on high classroo walls way above my head

I had to come back after school she said

48 in a class in 4 rows of 12

mental arithmetic - sums - and comprehension exercises I could slowly work through

but no homework to do before we went to bed

 - Something can be made of this, I think.

 

 



Autumn memories

Friday, 19 September 2014 17:59:11

Friday, 19 September 2014 17:59:11

I'm still trying to delve back and get at some of those early memories. It won't be as difficult for most of you - you have less far to dig!

You tend  to remember the upsets and indignities, especially when you were wrongly accused of something. But I don't want to dwell on those few occasions - better to recall the times you got away with things...

I do remember writing a very long story - pages and pages, for which I got praised of course. But when it came to parents day - or report, I don't know which - I was impressed by being described as a prolific writer, until I discovered that it merely meant I wrote a lot!  Hmmmm.  Only once do I recall being asked to write a poem and I wrote something truly dreadful. I remember rhyming teacher with preacher and heater and neater - ok rhymes but classic examples of making the meaning fit the rhyme! 

 



Autumn - back to school

Monday, 15 September 2014 17:57:43

Monday, 15 September 2014 17:57:43

Writing on those double lines so that all your bs and ds had bits the same size...and a funny zed we were taught which was never seen again after infants. Sometimes you would get told off for something and you didn't quite know what it was. Life at school was a bit of a mystery, especially in the infants. Children played games I hadn't heard of, didn't know the rules of. So much for living out in the sticks. 

I thought I would remember much more - but memories from early years are quite limited.  Perhaps the brain needs time to sift through its filing cabinet...



Autumn - school memories

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:25:55

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:25:55
Miss Frances' bulging eyes...the times tables on the wall - pastel circles getting more and more...the fire behind the railings in the classroom. Milk was brought in and stood near the fire on cold days.  Most of the time I didn't know what was going on.  We had reading books from way back - odd pictures that must have been little changed since Victorian times. Repetitive and too easy.  Janet and John would have been quite exciting. I didn't know anyone.  Then there were children you half knew and the idea of friends was very vague. Other children got cuts and grazes, other children threw up. But I was the only one who found the dinners indigestible and the dining room freezing. I couldn't believe how cold I was but again, no one else seemed bothered. Short trousers of course - something never explained to me before or since.


Autumn - back to school

Friday, 5 September 2014 15:55:40

Friday, 5 September 2014 15:55:40
Even now, September means back to school for me...   And that's a double-edged feeling: both a new start but also a return to routine.  It does make me think of memores of my school days and I wonder how far back I can recall.  We'll see.  


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