Sunday Poem – Gene Barry

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Evening folks.  This is going to be a very short post today – towards the end of last term I lost my pen drive which had all my resources on.  I remember vaguely thinking it would turn up over the summer – unfortunately it hasn’t and tonight I’ve been cutting and pasting various powerpoints, trying to get ready for tomorrow when I’m back at work.  I always get slightly anxious about going back to work after a break but I have excelled myself this time!

The performance of ‘Cartographers’ took place yesterday, despite heavy, persistent rain!  It went really well – both performances sold out last week and god love the british public – they stood there for the whole hour with their macs on and a few umbrellas between the lot of them, without complaining about the awful, awful weather.  The cast were fantastic – one of my pupils played a trumpet solo and then we did a duet towards the end of the show which went really well – I was very proud of him – it was his first paid gig as well so I’m sure he will remember it when he is old and wrinkly – I remember my first paid gig was playing in ‘Singing In the Rain’ (rather appropriately!) with my trumpet teacher.  He said the most important lesson I would learn as a second trumpet was to get to the bar as soon as the last note had sounded of the first half – he even made me do a dry run to make sure I knew the way…I did wish I’d remembered this yesterday when we had to queue for 20 minutes in the theatre bar for a cup of tea and a scone…

Anyway, writing the play has been an amazing, memorable opportunity – completely intense in a taking over the summer kind of way – there were moments when I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew and I wouldn’t be able to do it – but it all turned out in the end and I’m really grateful for the chance to work with Lindsay and Joe Ward Munrow from the Alligator Club – they were so confident that it would work and it would be great that I started believing them!

It turns out a play is more ephemeral than a poem – a poem can live on in a magazine or a book or a pamphlet – but a play is spoken and then it kind of disappears – strange isn’t it?  Unless you are Shakespeare of course, I suppose.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Gene Barry – the founder and chairman of the Fermoy International Poetry Festival over in Ireland.  Gene’s just had his first collection ‘Unfinished Business’ out with Doghouse Press and you can order it here http://www.doghousebooks.ie if you would like to!  Gene Barry is a poet, art therapist and pyschotherapist from Cork City in Ireland.  Gene runs a poetry group on Facebook called ‘Elbow Lane Poetry’ which is bursting at the seams with poetry at most hours of the day and night, posted up by its many members, well worth a look.

I enjoyed trying to work out in this poem how each image, or each line relates to the ‘she’ in question – I also like that this poem has echoes of the rather excellent poem by Michael Hartnett which can be found here http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/17736 and the equally brilliant Norman McCaig poem which can be found here  http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/aunt-julia

I don’t know if Gene was aware of these two poems when he wrote ‘She Was’ but I think Gene’s poem uses what I would call the ‘scaffolding’ of these two poems and then leaps off into its own world, piling on image after image and leaving the reader to unpack each one.  I don’t know who the ‘she’ is either – I think of her as a mother figure – I think there are subtle pointers to this – some of the images show someone who cares about other people – the ‘non-stinging ointment’, ‘a bowl of floury potatoes’ and I liked the shortened line of ‘a shoulder’ – I heard the unspoken and unwritten ‘a shoulder to cry on’ when I read this!

I hope you enjoy, and apologies for this brief and maybe slightly terse blog!

She Was – Gene Barry

a penny from the bottom of a couch
a Sunday supplement
a necessary haircut
a ball of malt at a cold funeral
a phlegm spit
a copybook tackle
a shoulder
a nail on the head
a sea that couldn’t take lives
a favourite sister
a below the waist swipe
a found sock
a raw poem
a painful fracture
a perfect insult
a first French kiss
a bowl of floury potatoes
a clean handkerchief
a nettle sting
a non-stinging ointment
a back heel
a fight at a tinker’s wedding
a new flavour
a clenched fist
a child’s hug
a memorable holiday
a beautifully battered ship
a take-me-now confession
a perfect fit
a suitable estimate
an ambush…so she was.

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One response »

  1. God bless Sundays and Kim’s poetry post (which Isn’t terse at all). Little hot jewel tomatoes last week (with no misplaced apostrophe); this week, a list. I’m a total sucker for a list, and equally for ambiguity, so ‘She’ leaves at least one reader quids in.She may be the mother who can use a flannel ‘below your waist’, who can kiss you better, whose ointment doesn’t’ sting.Or the girls of a first French kiss.Or the feisty lass at the fight at a tinkers’ wedding. Every image is the odd surprise of the coin rummaged from the bottom of the sofa (and Isn’t that exactly the right word?) Isn’t every one an ambush? Man, I wish I could write short nuggety poems! Thanks for this one.

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