from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 7 July 2011

not a poem about sex

Well, my friends, this bloggers' world is a funny one. You drop these words, cyber-messages in e-bottles, out there into the world not knowing who reads them or what they make of them – except that sometimes someone tells you, and that is such a gift.

And a few of you (often bloggers yourselves, so you're kind of tuned-in to variations) have emailed to ask if I'm OK; to say that they (you)'ve noticed a subtle shift in how I'm writing and the subject matter recently. Particularly noted is that there has been less of the personal 'me' in evidence.

You astute people; no, things have not been easy chez moi, on either the personal or professional fronts recently. 'But –' you might justifiably cry 'you've had two books out recently. What more might a writer want?' And I'd respond yes, and that's great, and long-awaited; but in these days of no-one, especially small presses, having any money for promotion (and I haven't had an advance on a book in 13 years), and royalties being a tiny percentage, not of cover price as per before the Net Book Agreement, but of publishers' receipts, a very different beast, and royalties anyway being due up to a year after the book is released, I can expect a few pounds only maybe in 2012 and will need to keep doing a lot of promotion myself. So in some ways there's the post-book anticlimax (the more so since Imago was written 17 years ago, and has hardly hit the bestsellers' list – not, I hastily add, that I had any expectation that it might); plus the ongoing issue of how the hell to keep bringing in even a pittance.

And there have been a number of other more personal difficulties.

So yes there has been I guess a certain verve lacking lately: I am on my way to reclaiming it. In honour of some cathartic events which have undammed some dams, I'm going to post below a very different poem from my usual; just so you know (I perhaps mean just so I can remember!)  that I can occasionally be frivolous!

’im an’ me

I said to ’im ‘this ain’t a poem about sex’
an’ he said ‘then there’ll be a great gaping hole
at the heart of your poetry’, an’ I said
‘it’s about mortality’ an’ he said ‘sex
is an attempt to counter mortality’
an’ I declined to answer and wrote this anyway:

‘it’s like one of them chalk pavement drawings,
innit, soon to be erased by rain; and your
brain cell’s slithering away with a mind of its own
that ain’t yours’ (and he interjected that even
the slithy tove never slithered like that); ‘and
your memory was last seen packin’ a bag
and hitchin’ a lift out of here; and all them
bits that should be staring at the sky
have discovered the laws of gravity;
and you don’t know what it’s all about
and you were never sure whether there was
a God anyway; and life slips by like a field mouse
scarcely shakin’ the grasses’ (I pinched that line
from Ezra). And he said: ‘Never mind
darlin’; nothing that a cup of tea won’t sort.’

– Roselle Angwin


  1. Yes - but would you consider taking out those apostrophe and faux cockney thingies - it would still be funny - and serious!

    (ok, shut up, me)

  2. get a sledge hammer to the kettle. flatten it flat
    as a cloth cap.
    Immerse yourself in paint,
    or clover.
    Put your hands together and thank
    Your lucky stars.
    Swing a string
    up to the moon.
    Be with horses.

    Best wishes for you

  3. Those both made me smile. Veronica, thank you for the passion - the fire, the poem! :-) x

    A - have tried it both ways. Thank you for making me look at it again. Felt it was too 'slight' to try to make it serious (tho yes of course in some ways it IS serious); I think it does need the hamming up. Might of course change my mind! Love x

  4. PS I think I should say that my poem arose in less than a minute from an easy bantering conversation with The Man, and although it raises deeper questions it was never intended to be a serious poem!


Blog Archive