Sunday, 1 January 2012

And in with a poem...

So – Happy New Year friends and visitors. 2012... sounds kind of dramatic, doesn't it? This time last year we were just about to set off on our big 6 month trip abroad but right now we have no such adventurous plans. This year will see our girl move into high school (adventures of some kind for her in store, no doubt - it's her above with her film guide xmas gift...) but for us adults it will be... well, who knows? Just another year? Something completely different and unexpected? One thing I do know... at some point I will have to decide how much of 2012 I am going to spend trying to do something with the huge poem I have just written... a lot, a little, none at all..? Will it be wasted time? Does anyone really want a 142 verse rhyming poem in 2012? For now I'm avoiding thinking about it. We've still got visitors, girl is still off school, there are lots of other things to do and think about...

One good thing is that I've managed to read a little over Xmas. Lately I've been reading one of my presents (Nile Rodgers' “Le Freak”... he of Chic – a great read, what a life story...) and before that I read “The Room” by Emma Donoghue. I'd never heard of Donoghue's 2010 book until it was recommended by Kat Mortensen a little while ago (who told me nothing other than it was something like brilliant/unusual) but soon after that I spotted a copy in a charity shop and so paid a whole 99p for it. It's got quite a best seller look to it and whilst in theory I don't have anything against bestsellers (who wouldn't like to write one..?) in practice I do often find that they're a bit slight or predictable or something else that doesn't work for me. “Room”, however, is every bit as good as Kat said it was. And though it starts off fairly grim it has so much else going on once you get into the story. You can find critiques of the novel around of course, if you look for them (especially highfalutin ones) but I'd have to say that there are sections of it that I really loved and I found the central character (who to me was Ma, much more than the young narrator, Jack) a magnificent portrayal of a young woman. The book is about many things and that's partly what makes it good. Yes, there is the story of the room (which you'll either know about or you won't... as I say I had read or heard nothing about the story and I'm sure this helped me get more out of the book... I went in with no preconceived ideas) but there is so much beyond it too – about family, childhood, relationships, modern society. It's not everybody’s idea of Xmas reading but it worked for me. There's only so much Santa I can take.

One character in “Room” quotes poetry now and again. First there is a bit of Louis MacNeice's “Snow”, later a bit of T.S.Eliot's “Burnt Norton” and then there is a little from this poem by Emily Dickinson (punctuation and so on below from Faber & Faber's “A Choice of Emily Dickinson's Verse”, 1968):

The Soul selects her own Society ―
Then ― shuts the Door ―
To her divine Majority ―
Present no more ―

Unmoved ― she notes the Chariots ― pausing
At her low Gate ―
Unmoved ― an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat ―

I’ve known her ―from an ample nation ―
Choose one ―
Then ― close the Valves of her attention ―
Like Stone ―

by Emily Dickinson

And that's it for today. Good wishes for 2012... and beyond.



Enchanted Oak said...

Happy new year, my friend. Tell your loved ones that Joe and I are curled up with our fat beagles, listing the happy moments of 2011, and you three are there on The List! You wouldn't recognize me now, 40 pounds lighter!

You have rich questions to answer for yourself in the coming year, it sounds like. Good wishes to you.

Rachel Fox said...

Nice to be on a happy list! Love to you all.

hope said...

As H. goes off on adventures, tell her we received her card yesterday and it was so cute, it's on the bulletin board...meaning it won't join the old ones in the trash. :)

Let today be yours to do as you please and worry about the rest of 2012 when tomorrow rolls around. I can't wait to see what's in store for all of us!

Thanks for all the fun you put into my life, my friend.

the watercats said...

happy new years :) and thanks for the great comment earlier. Have been wondering whether to check out Room or not, I'd sort of heard the gist of the story and it sounded interesting, but I was cautious because of hype. I think I'm waiting for my find of it in a charity shop, then i won't mind risking it. Wishing you all the best things in 2012. The sun is shining here and everything, have a feeling it'll be a good one ;)

A Cuban In London said...

Happy New Year to you and your family! Beautiful photo the one that adorns your latest outing. Loved the poem too. The Room has been recommended to me as well but my to-read queue grows longer and longer per day. Thanks for the thumbs-up.

Greetings from London.

Marion McCready said...

Happy New Year to you and your family, looking forward to hearing more about this poem!!

Rachel Fox said...

Nice to see you all here in 2012. Happy New Year!

The Bug said...

I've added Room to my wish list - but that darn list keeps getting longer & I keep reading blogs instead of books. Perhaps there should be a New Year's Resolution about this situation :)

Rachel Fox said...

As I said I hated it at the start (I really do not like reading about cruelty) but the story does develop into more than that. Worth sticking with it, I think.
I haven't even thought about resolutions this year! I think I've learned over the years how pointless they are (at this time of year anyway!).

Domestic Oub said...

Delighted to hear positive things about 'Room'. My book club in general wasn't keen, but I loved it. Read it in one sitting. It is tough in the beginning, but worth the read I thought.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I very nearly stopped reading and sent it back to the charity shop (I am not one of those people who reads loads of what they call "misery memoirs"). Glad I stuck with it though. It has highs and lows.

Domestic Oub said...

Oh, I'm with you on the miersy memoirs! Awful yokes in my opinion - though I've been tempted to write my own (entirely made up) making it as ridiculously over the top as possible. Suspect it'd be a best seller :)

Rachel Fox said...

Sounds good. I understand why people write them and I understand why people read them... but I've never felt the urge to fill my brain with them. Once again it is a publishing fashion issue really... and fashion is often one of my least favourite words!