Monday, 27 October 2014

First thoughts, second part

I spent yesterday in a workshop exploring 'First Thoughts' i.e. Ginsberg's idea that the first thought is the best thought. So, there was a series of exercises and prompts to write poems very quickly - in 5 to 10 minutes generally - to ensure that there wasn't time to revisit the first thought and change it to the second, third fourth and so on. It was a follow-on from a previous workshop on the same topic, and like that one produced a number of genuinely outstanding pieces.

I'm working on a couple of ideas that sprung from the event, and here's one that I produced from the prompt 're-use a line from Long Days by Jean Follain' - I used "next to the worn-out animals" and the idea came from a recent online news story.

In Gaza zoo

In Gaza zoo,
the are no zebras;
the occupiers’ edicts
forbid the import of exotic species
and slowly, the exhibits
dwindle to taxidermy.
But even in Palestine,
kids know what should be on display;
to comply, keepers paint stripes on white donkeys
and children ride upon their backs,
a wire-fenced pleasure-beach,
parading until,
as the gates clang shut,
feral cats emerge
to yawn and stretch
next to the worn-out animals.

I'm quite happy with the story and imagery here, though I may rework it. On other occasions, inspiration let me no further than 'short and silly' as here, written in response to the prompt 'write a poem structured like one of the handouts' - I went with William Carlos Williams' As the Cat (not least because it's short and it was near the end of the day, but also I'm a cat-fan and enjoy sparse poetical structures once in a while). Enjoy... and if you fancy attending a workshop and can get to Southampton or Bournemouth, this is the place to look.

As the man

As Pavlov
rang his bell
and measured

canine salivation
the cat watched

pawing at
its collar-jingle
so the man

on hearing now
lifts his leg
and washes.

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