‘A Woman on the Edge’ – workshop project of prose and poetry: Omega.
by Marie Marshall
One day nature will declare my work-in-progress a canon, and there will be an omega stamped, sealed, upon my work. It will be as final as a horseshoe-print on my skull, a line drawn underneath the last word on the last page. The moment before that line is drawn and the Omega is spoken I know that I will be praying to write just one more line, one more metaphor. Perhaps it would have been as apt a metaphor as – life imitating art – was drawn by those foresters who lately cut down some trees in a piece of Perthshire woodland. No doubt in an act of supposed ‘management’ they culled those on which, a couple of months previously, hand-written poems of mine had been pinned, but more than management it seemed like retribution exacted by the landowners for their having participated in an act of revolution. Cruel landowner! Cruel foresters! The trees were innocent bystanders, or at most unwitting insurrectionists!
Still, it made me think.
It knocked clean out of my head my project of hidden poetry, buried under the earth and leaf-mold of the forest floor. In its place was panic at the thought that a day would come when I produced no new poetry, not simply poetry that would remain unseen. How awful a glimpse of mortality!
I shall seed amongst old books some scraps and notes, lines in my hand on the backs of old envelopes, hints of manuscripts completed but undiscovered, so that there will always be speculation as to whether any ‘canon’ is complete, whether there are poems out there new to the reader’s eye. I shall redecorate my house, writing in felt marker upon a wall before I apply paste and paper, so that – perhaps – when they blue-plaque the building with a reverent Marie Marshall, author and poet, lived here it may be treasure-trove. I shall give my man-of-law a box and specify that it is never to be opened.
Such you may consider to be sleight of hand, deception, half-lies, total falsehoods, and finite even if secretly so. I shall bequeath to other poets a phrase each, an idea, some few words, a sentence, a rhythm, a rhyme – something. Along with each bequest will be a plea for them to run with it, weave it in-and-out of the pommiers of their poetic orchard or of the bollards and signposts of their city streets, to mortar it as a reclaimed brick into their own wall. I will release my works to the world and say: If you have a mind to poetry, then lift these, re-mould them, extract text from them, expand the images and metaphors, or simplify them, encapsulate them in seventeen syllables, do anything you wish… but please be sure to acknowledge them!
Perhaps there is an Edgeland between life and death, and this is why we believe in ghosts; perhaps my own dreams – the ones where I can fly, rather as one treads water – are intimations of this state seen through a crack in time and space. If this is so, I might be watching as it all unfolds. I might be the goose that walks over the grave of the reluctant poet – the one who doesn’t pitch in – and makes him shiver. You have been warned.
now take a risk – take out every reference to self – all the ‘I’s and ‘my’s . Rework it as an objective piece in which it’s the poetry we care about first, not you. Make it thought-provokngly, heart-rendingly universal, not whimsically personal.Then we’ll believe.
(As your poems themselves are believed)
I tend not to revise. Also I tend to write in the first person a lot as I find it lends immediacy to expression, it invites the reader to identify with the narrative voice and thus, in its own way, is universal. Free indirect speech is another possibility, but then a third-person narration always strikes me as creating a barrier, if only a thin one, against the reader, thus rather lessening the universal. Still, it’s a thought, and this project was always a workshop. Thank you.
“Perhaps there is an Edgeland between life and death, and this is why we believe in ghosts; perhaps my own dreams – the ones where I can fly, rather as one treads water – are intimations of this state seen through a crack in time and space. If this is so, I might be watching as it all unfolds. I might be the goose that walks over the grave of the reluctant poet – the one who doesn’t pitch in – and makes him shiver. You have been warned.’
My God. This is Beautiful.
Thank you, Jen.
Please, please, consider me a disciple. I will take what you give and run. I am inspired to post my poetry guerilla-like now. I stand with you. Beauty is our weapon we fire upon an unsuspecting world. They have been warned!
Poetry is a smart-bomb.
It is a beat-seeking missile! 😉
What if we posted QR codes with links to poetry? People scan them almost without thinking….I’m calling mine “Guerilla Post”.
I shall leave the technical aspect to you. 🙂
I taught over 80 students to create QR Codes for a poetry or song lyric link yesterday. Today I’m reading “If-” by Kipling to all of them! Thanks for the inspiration!
…buried words are not words…forests unreplenished by new growth are not forests. Beginnings birth endings, but endings may also birth beginnings… This Omega project inspired me to imagine an ‘Alpha’ rebirth, the ‘cycle’ of life being renewed through living, breathing words. Wonderful, I thought. And then it hit…that all too human frailty — reluctance…(ok…you weren’t thinking of a Canada goose when you take up your flying stint, were you…? Just checking…) 🙂 Sue, Winnipeg, Canada
Not exactly, but it’s a thought.
to pull a phrase from another commenter: “God, this is beautiful”. I love the written word and I love what you have done with it.
I’ve messed around with it a little, that’s all. 🙂
you mess around quite well
Yes, I like the way you work as well. Cool. Well met.
And so I recently said goodbye to my love in a poem, which he will never read, and buried it beneath the soil. My knowing it is there (and only me), an incredible act of closure.