Thursday, 13 January 2011

Path to Folly

Each new year is a path to folly.  We are so busy preparing to celebrate the depths of winter, that resolutions arrive last-minute, tacked-on to the year end.

If we make plans, we do not expect them to last.  Inspiration is as immediate as the present moment, as weather-worn as our whole lives.

So when a writer needed to write a Villanelle for a writing class, the idea sparked my muse.  From groaning about the poetry form, and deciding it did not suit my style, remarkably the completed form soon emerged.  The poem had been brewing through winter storms, and arrived almost complete in Janaruy.  While hoping my fellow-writer was being equally inspired, my pen twitched to another fountain of verse - and suddenly I find, I have rediscovered the Villanelle.

Whatever finished form your poem takes, it will bear little relation to those troublesome resolutions.  I don't bother with them nowadays.  The year I vowed to write a poem a day, one (experienced) poet went pale, and was kept awake in sympathy.  Needless to say, I slept soundly, untroubled by the prospect of 365 poems, but flexible enough to realise that one little sonnet (or preferably 7 haiku) could mean I relaxed for the rest of the week... by the end of that year I had achieved my target.

The REAL problem was slowing down my Muse after the year-end!  So now I don't make resolutions, although I have lots of ideas that I want to achieve in the year ahead.  Like this folly at Blickling Hall, we return to it every year.  It is a symbol of permanence, of country walks, like resolutions that come round every year.

But why Town End?  Delightfully set, on a Lake District car journey, it was strange to think of Beatrix Potter writing about kittens under floorboards, well-dressed animals, rolling pins... or anything else in the murky depths of this old house.  But writers use whatever's around them, and another's folly is their creation.

I did not resolve to relearn the Villanelle this year, but I would never miss the opportunity when a poem arrives - fully dressed - not after a year of 365 poems...
or 2010, the year of the mermaids.  The latest mermaid tale began life as 'What Perdita Did at School', a la, 'What Katy Did'... but testing the market, the title concensus was 'Mermaids off Cromer Pier and other poems'... and if you doubt they exist, I only write what I know... and planning for a Norfolk Poets Anthology in the summer, the final tail (!) has tipped the scales, so 'Perdita to Paradise' (a prose grand finale) is included in the mermaid's final search for Xanadu... but whether she finds Xanadon't, or if she finds the Norfolk Broads or Paradise Lost, you will have to read the book to find out.

Reserve your copy today, because the price will go up when I finally do my sums, and resolve on a sensible sum for the extra pages... oh, and lots of other great poets included in the line-up.

It's amazing what comes in on the tides.  Flotsam, anyone?

1 comment:

Caroline Gill said...

Good to read about the Villanelle!