Friday, 16 September 2011

Coming clean

So my Wednesday trips to Arbroath... no secret mission for the government... just my first ever art classes (once a week for ten weeks). Of course, like most people I did get some art classes in school but I don't remember ever being taught anything back then... apart from that I wasn't very good at art. I remember us being given painting tasks to do and always being disappointed with what I produced. I also remember that awful task that everyone seems to get in high school art (and that very few people can do anything with) - "draw/paint the person sitting opposite you". I remember making a picture of my friend where she looked like a horse with a painful staring problem and thinking "well, best keep to the stuff I'm better at" (pretty much anything besides art back then).

Anyway, I wanted to do some art classes last year (to do something new with my brain partly) but the ones I chose then didn't happen due to lack of numbers. And then we came back this summer and there was a poster in Arbroath library advertising some classes with local artist Jackie Gardiner. So now, here I am, once a week, trying lots of different things like painting and pastelling and drawing and what-not. Two classes so far and I am having a ball - it feels so good to not be working with words and wordy ideas for a change. And maybe soon I will start to understand what my artist friends are talking about now and again. It's a win-win.

In the meantime I did manage a poem this week too. One of the reasons I've been off poetry for a while is that I got tired of endlessly writing about my Mum and the lack of her. I felt like I was just upsetting myself, boring everyone else and, worst of all, that she would hate it (she was a doing person, not a whining person...). Still, I've been reading a book recently called "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg (1986) and it's all for getting everything out and just keeping on writing so maybe that's what has helped this poem along. I found the Bones book via the website of the writer involved in the book of adoption stories I wrote about a couple of posts ago (Ann Angel - I'm guessing not her real name). "Writing Down the Bones" is totally not my kind of thing (I dislike books about writing most of the time and even the subtitle of this one makes me wince - "freeing the writer within"...) but sometimes it's good to face things that are not one's kind of thing, I think. Hence the art classes also I suppose. Anyway, the poem:


You're in that lonely coffee pot
The tiny size of it
The way it pours

And in that rose tree
The clusters of its buds
That choice was yours

You are the empty chairs
The quiet on the stairs
The wisps of light

And though in heavy plastic urn
You take a very peaceful turn
You still burn bright

RF 2011

There is a hint of Python in the urn I know (or Morecambe and Wise...)... yet, still I leave it. Hard to explain why. Maybe it's masochism (so not what anyone sensible in modern poetry would do... and it rhymes too). I am beyond help.

p.s. quick audio version of the above here



The Weaver of Grass said...

Re the poem Rachel - I like it. I think you have to continue until you have worked it out of your system - I found this out when I was widowed.

Re the art lessons - I am doing a course on line but have found my drawing skills so awful that I have stopped and am doing a drawing course from a book for a few weeks to try and get a bit better before I continue with the course proper. Like you I want to do it to stretch my brain in new areas.

I find that the drugs I am on since my illness last November seem to suppress my creative side.
But I am trying to over come that. Good luck with the art lessons.

The Bug said...

You know I never even had any art classes. But I remember making origami cranes one Christmas so there MUST have been some emphasis on art at least until I hit high school where I avoided it like the plague. I doubt that I'll ever try either - I'm pretty sure that's NOT where my skills are.

My mom's been gone for 6 ½ years & I still break out in poetry about her from time to time. However, I didn't really write anything much until I started my blog in 2009. I didn't want to face what the words would be, I guess.

These words are lovely - & speak quite a bit of truth. My mom's not in an urn - I should write something sometime about the vessel I finally chose for her :)

Titus said...

I am so taken with the phrase 'a painful staring problem'.

And I liked the final paragraph. When you know what you're doing, you don't need help.

Rachel Fox said...

My Mum was a regular widow, Weaver so it's something I know a bit about. And in a sense she and I were partners for parts of our lives (just the two of us at home for some of my childhood, together quite a lot in the last years). It's certainly a new life without her and I feel a little bit compassless.

She's not meant to stay in the urn forever, Bug, but as yet there is no ideal place for her 'remains' (horrible term!) so she's still in the house for now. I move the urn about from room to room. Now and again.

You think I know what I'm doing, T? That's reassuring as I have respect for your opinions!

Anonymous said...

Please stay beyond help. That's a great wee poem!

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you. And like you I'm a fan of sound... so I will try and get a (spoken) audio version of this one up over the weekend.

hope said...

I love that the poem speaks the truth of missing someone but without being melancholy. Because even when someone leaves us physically, they still live on in memories and sometimes objects.

I have a wash bowl & pitcher set that belonged to my Great Grandmother, who passed it down to her oldest daughter, my Grandmother. I'm the family tree nut so I love this stuff. But it's the memory of my Grandmother laughing when she gave it to me that makes me smile. She said, "You're the only one who'd see worth in something so plain, every day old." It's in our bedroom, on an antique dresser..and it makes me smile.

And so do your words.

Enchanted Oak said...

Hooray for the new art form project, and hooray for the poem too. What Hope said. Wordsworth said poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility, and though loss of your mother may be a recurring theme, the poems are a working out of deep emotion that is universal. There's validity in that. I send love.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Hope, and in some ways it's almost like she is here MORE than before which is unexpected! But then she did live in this house. Who knows - maybe she still does.

Love always welcome, Chris! Good to have it in the bank. Good to read about your great poetry reading too.


Marion McCready said...

I quite fancy doing an art course, I know what you mean about a change from having to think about words all the time. The poem is nicely done.

Dominic Rivron said...

Like your poem. I wouldn't worry about writing a lot of poetry about your mum. Bereavement is an area where a lot of poets have "let it all hang out" (T|ony Harrison for example). George MacBeth wrote extensively about the progress of his own fatal illness. If something creative can come out of the bloody obstinately negative side of the human condition, all the better.

Rachel Fox said...

I know, Dominic, and you're right. I know people have written whole books of poems about one bereavement (even won prizes for them, I think) but I so don't want to do that.
Still, we don't really get to choose our subject matter, do we?

Rachel Fox said...

p.s. can recommend the art course, Marion. And you'll laugh - I brought home 2 pictures I'd done and h said to me "so are you an artist now then?" And she wasn't being sarcastic. I laughed.

swiss said...

hurrah for art classes! painting/making is, i won;t say better, but different.

and the poem yes, i agree, subject matter isn't what we might always want it to be.

Rachel Fox said...

Writing to me is always work... and I don't mean that in a bad way... it's just what it has been, how it feels (well, as much as I've ever known how work feels...). But this does feel more like play (to me anyway). Maybe it's because I have absolutely nothing invested in it, as it were. I have no intentions for it to be anything good, no theory, no ambition. Fetter-free! Hm - already I learn lessons about my writing...


Liz said...

Oh yes, art classes, did some here once but was more chiseling wood and kneading clay...still hanker after having a go at painting some day, come to think of it, this post has just reminded me of my dream last night which was about choosing a painting easel...weird! :)
Liked your poem for the glimpses it gives, especially like the ending lines. I think writing 'will out' and like you say, sometimes we don't have a choice.

Rachel Fox said...

Glad you like the ending lines, Liz, as they were the bit I was really unsure of. I know it's kind of on the edge of taste... but worrying about taste worries me in some ways. I feel we're obsessed with it sometimes - I call Ikea 'the plague of tastefulness'.