Second Class Poetry

I was quite proud of how quickly I located the room this time. It was gloriously, fuggily warm. In the short distance from the bus stop, my feet had started to feel like they were turning against me; coldly unhappy in my shoes.
There were four or five of us there. I hugged the radiator and someone asked if anyone had done the homework. We looked at each other as though the question were a trap. I sat down next to the same person I had been with last time. As it turns out, I think that was a lucky chance the first time, and a lucky choice last night. We admitted we have been throwing the word anaphoric around all week.
More people arrived. The tutor came in. This week I am sure he dyes his hair. Well, almost sure. It was time for the class to start and the room was only half full. The tutor decided to wait a few minutes. It always irritates me when tutors or speakers do this. Why should those people who have managed to arrive on time have to wait for those who are late? I don’t get it. Maybe it showed in my face. Maybe it showed in other faces. Anyway he got on with it, swiftly recapping last week’s class and outlining what we would be doing in Week 2. Strangely, he kept saying, “Is that alright?” I don’t know what he would have said if we had answered, “NO!”
He knows his stuff. We get a nice blend of erudition and example, of practice and play.
Had anyone done the homework, he asked. A few reluctant nods. Would we be willing to read? Fortunately one brave soul immediately said yes. She had even made copies of her oeuvre.
“It rhymes,” whispered my neighbour, her eyes wide. “Mine doesn’t rhyme. I didn’t even think of rhymes. Does yours rhyme?”
I shook my head.

The poem was read, read again, discussed, explained. Next. Another rhyming poem. Some nice lines. Touches of humour. Some comments on the rhymes. My neighbour and I quickly swapped our poems for some pre exposure feedback. I was jealous. I wish I had written hers. It was wonderful. I loved it. It had colour, sound, taste, smell, texture, sadness, humour, tenderness. She liked “erased, rewritten” in mine.
A third poem. It rhymed too. About his grandad, who advised him “to always go Dutch”. Sweet, and it has stayed in my mind.
Our anxious looks had attracted attention. The tutor wanted our offerings.
“They don’t rhyme,” said my neighbour. Then, “You go first.” I did. My palms rather sweatier than usual. I made myself slow down and look up after the first verse. I imagined I was reading to my mother. Eye Contact, I thought. But as we were at the back, it was mostly hair I saw.
You know, I don’t remember what the tutor said, though there was something about assonance. But the comments were kind. I was the only one not asked to read mine a second time. I don’t know what that means.
Then my neighbour. You could see people sit up, listen and want to hear more. Then a man with a poem about his recently deceased mother which brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, so I couldn’t even tell him how much I liked it.
I may not emerge from this a poet, but I have a golden three hours every week to look forward to until March.

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30 thoughts on “Second Class Poetry

      • Not at all. I love the reality of it. It makes me feel as though you are speaking directly to me, not typing something by yourself. I can picture the scenes so clearly. Some people write as though they are writing whilst others write as though they are having a conversation with you and you manage the latter. Not sure that I’m any good at putting my thoughts into words here but hope you get the general gist of it.

        • That’s lovely! Thank you. This is a sort of diary, and I am so glad you enjoy it. Isn’t the blogosphere an amazing place? We have conversations, have our thoughts prompted, our expectations raised and dashed, all at the click of a button.
          Big thanks to Tim Berners-Lee. What an incredible man.

        • In your “blogging style” posts I find it that way; your creative work doesn’t always have the same voice.

          Thinking more about it, I wonder whether it is more of a journalistic style? I was also reading that people are more likely to remember things written in a natural, informal style, and I wonder if that’s what we are picking up on?

        • But would my journalistic voice be my voice anyway? You have met me, so did I sound like you expected in the flesh and voice? When I listened to Hilary Mantel reading from Bring Up the Bodies, I was surprised at how different Cromwell sounded in her mouth to in my head. He is quieter, graver in my mind.

  1. Congratulations. I find it very scary to present my work to the public – I even have a moment of anxiety before I click the publish tab when I am posting my written work on my blog.

    • When I went to my first journalism class, the tutor, Janet Barber, who was inspirational, a terrific teacher, told us robustly that if we expected people to read what we had written we had to be prepared to read it aloud in front of the class. She was absolutely insistent, and we learned so much from each other. I think last night as so many people didn’t read there was a slight imbalance which I hope is corrected next time.

      • I would guess they didn’t do their homework (why the question in the first place?). Norms need to be set early in the class that it will start on time and it is expected that people come prepared. You and the others that came prepared can make the rules. If they don’t follow, you can ignore them (and wonder why they paid the tuition). Sleep well!

        • I think it is easy to be intimidated and to to believe everyone else’s work is better than your own. But if you don’t share, you don’t get feedback, so you are paying a hefty fee and not getting as much out of it as you should. I asked if we could have written feedback. The answer was yes, but the tutor didn’t make that clear to everyone. I think he should.

  2. I have never been good at reading my own work (or any work really). Good for you! I’m glad you are enjoying the class. And when is the cold going to go away? Miles and Att are not happy.

  3. I’m so impressed that you go to a class and do homework and consider and read aloud. That’s the difference between you proper writers and random lazy bloggers like me. Keep it up! πŸ™‚

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