tipping the clouds
My blogging has become a bit sporadic over the last few weeks. Partly, I’ve not felt I’ve had much to say, but then I have to remind myself that by just sitting down to do the work, words flow.
So, it’s raining outside, heavy and persistent, though now and then the sun seems to be trying to come through. The small apple tree we planted a few years ago is full of rain-soaked blossom and the starlings are darting to and fro as if they’ve got plans. A pair of blackbirds keep tamping the grass and pulling up worms, no doubt taking it in turns to feed their young, although the nest of chicks I photographed for my last blog post succumbed to the attacks of a magpie.
I realise both haiku and lockdown have made me focus more on nature, and things close at hand. No bad thing really. There’s lots to see around here. Nature and the weather are constantly changing, so there’s always something new to discover. Lately, I’ve been trying to learn the names of wildflowers (I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been able to identify more than a handful). What I’ve really enjoyed is finding out the variety of names for one single plant. Plant names can be quite local, and it’s fascinating to find alternative words for wild flowers you already know, almost like learning another language. One wild flower I’ve had fun with has been stitchwort (below).
Stitchwort, aka devil’s corn, bird’s tongue, lady’s lint, May grass, break-bones, addersmeat, moonflowers, poor man’s buttonhole … I could go on. I said above, it’s like another language; what I think I mean is, it’s another layer of language, one that can be placed over your existing knowledge – and new words yield new meanings, so needless to say, some of these names have found their way into the haiku I’ve been writing.
Alongside the writing, there’s been some reading too. I’ve been blown away by some of the haiku in paul m.’s ‘witness tree’, and reading Wally Swist’s ‘The Windbreak Pine’ has made me appreciate the longer line (many of his poems are 17 syllables, although not necessarily 5-7-5). Both books are from Snapshot Press. I’d like to say more about these collections, but work has been hectic (plugging gaps due to an outbreak of Covid that seems to be rumbling on despite many other areas having lowers cases). Time hasn’t been on my side – is it ever? What I would say though, is that I have never been disappointed by any books I’ve bought from Snapshot Press. and I have a few more still on my wish list!
This sort of brings me round to another thing that I’m starting to do, which is sell some of my poetry books. From time to time, I give books away, either to fellow writers, or to the local Oxfam bookshop in nearby Holmfirth. I don’t do this lightly, but space is always a premium and sometimes I realise I’m unlikely to keep returning to a particular book. Most of the books I own aren’t worth that much, but one or two might be considered collectible. So, I’m dipping my toe in the waters of e-bay, in the hope that some of these books will find the right home, so to speak. My mother has a saying that goes something along the lines of: ‘She knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’. I’ve had a careful think about what I value, and currently, it’s haiku. Any money I raise will go towards the purchase of haiku books. And I’ve taken the plunge and joined The British Haiku Society too (not sure why it’s taken me so long, something about a formal organisation that I find slightly off-putting, but we’ll see). Anyway, that’s where I’m up to on this rather rain-soaked Saturday afternoon. I hope that wherever you are, you are reading, and writing, and loving what you do!