Catch a poem by its tail

Just re-watched one of my favourite TED videos : Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity. The bit about poet Ruth Stone’s writing process is what I love most about this talk :

“As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’. And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”

(Stole the above text from this blog)

Apologies to Harvard

Poetry spammage soon. Watch out. Not mine though.

Excerpt from John Updike’s 1973 Phi Beta Kappa poem:


We took the world as given. Cigarettes
Were twenty-several cents a pack, and gas
as much per gallon. Sex came wrapped in rubber
And veiled in supernatural scruples—call
Them chivalry. A certain breathlessness
Was felt; perhaps the Bomb, which after all
Mushroomed us as we entered puberty,
Waking us from the newspaper-nightmare
Our childhoods had napped through, was realer then;
Our lives, at least, were not assumed to be
Our right; we lived, by shifts, on sufferance.
The world contained policemen, true; and these
Should be avoided; governments were bunk,
But well-intentioned; blacks were beautiful
But seldom seen; the poor were with ye always.
We thought one war as moral as the next,
Believed that life was tragic and absurd,
And were absurdly cheerful on that basis.
We loved John Donne and Hopkins, Yeats and Pound,
Medieval history was rather swank,
Psychology was in the mind; abstract
Things grabbed us where we lived; the only life
Worth living was the private life, and—last,
Worst scandal in this characterization—
We did not know we were a generation.

I stumbled upon a couple of lines from the above excerpt in the book “The Class” by Erich Segal.

The last line is just.. inspiring.

Reading List and Eliot

So much to read!  Mythologies, The Second Sex and now I stumbled across Laura Mulvey’s essay“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

Also, totally tripping on T.S Eliot.

“For I have known them all already, known them all -
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?”

- The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Missed Train

there is this version for him and

another, and the other will

be this version, for her

the insurgence of now

no matter, the fire where it

burned, the embers remain

of a long pause and now


wisdom, I laugh

no pain, no gain

and I lie here when I say

there is a another train to catch

I will never reach

the same place

I will never know the place again

when it is bathed in us


Were there promises of love?

Of children, and houses

“Just come with me”

Did he say it, or plead?

Shall I believe them, she asks

what can I say, but look

a watery smile :

“He’s the One”

And then she’s gone,

Swept away, sunshine

and then


here they come,

wailing and sobbing

“All wrong, all wrong!”

Those dreams, they gurgle down

the dirty drains where soggy

tossed out fantasies go

washed down by downpours

of Heartbreak and Sadness

(always in season)

Advice to Women

Advice to Women

Keep cats
if you want to learn to cope with
the otherness of lovers.
Otherness is not always neglect –
Cats return to their litter trays
when they need to.
Don’t cuss out of the window
at their enemies.
That stare of perpetual surprise
in those great green eyes
will teach you
to die alone.

Eunice de Souza

Poem found on this blog


the platform

eternal pausing, the shells

of smoked peanuts


drips of tea on the stone bench

cold, now

and as I watch the train pull away

dragging a bit of my heart

with each chug

across the littered tracks

there are questions

answers I don’t need

for now, I’m a blur

a thing-of-the-past

yours, a moment ago

when you ran your fingers

through my hair

as always, your fingers caught

in the tangled ends

and just like always

you left them like they were