WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
The aches have turned into a sniffle.
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
The potential of future projects
Bonn Ist Supreme – Robbie Basho
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Last week saw me flitting about a bit, the main event of the week was Poetry Alight at the Spark Café in Lichfield and most of you will have seen on my extra blog last week with my review of this excellent event. For those who missed it you can see it here: https://pollysworda.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/it-takes-just-a-spark-to-set-poetry-alight/
Perhaps I should clarify my use of the word flitting as it sounds a little flippant. I am not referring to the meetings or events which were all purposeful and full of glorious value and potential. Flitting refers to the state of my unsettled mind and is an inner feeling that I may not outwardly express.
So having cleared that up, the Lichfield poetry event was not the only item in my busy diary as I had meetings to set up some workshops for The Wall project, these will take place later in the month, with the Tamworth Writers Group and three community cafes, exploring responses to the lyrics of Pink Floyd.
Thursday saw the fortnightly meeting of the Runaway Writers’ with some excellent pieces from the members including the latest from Margaret Torr’s children’s novel where the main character is James, whose adventures in his flying wheelchair are full of delight and enchantment with a cast of characters whose quest is enacted in a world of disrupted time. Margaret is a natural story teller who keeps me hooked – I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Friday saw me flit across to Stafford for a meeting to discuss the potential role of Staffordshire Poet Laureate which has been very well received and although it is not confirmed that this will happen. The County Council are keen to explore how this role can be shaped and how a framework to sustain it can be developed. Something I will be working on in the coming weeks and may well ask for further ideas from local poetry community.
On Saturday evening, I was delighted to catch up with one of the Poets Trail Poets, Barry Hunt, The singer /songwriter who was performing with his daughter Chloe at one of the local village pubs. They performed a great set with a mix of modern to traditional songs including their own material that provided something to induce the rock/folk/pop vibes of everyone. Barry is a master guitar player who eased his fingers around the frets to produce a warm vibrant sound to accompany Chloe as she gave us her special blend of confident vocals.
You can catch Barry and Chloe at the Yardbird in Birmingham on 18th March.
Yesterday saw me banish the sniffles to their nasal pit and head into historic workshop of the world, Birmingham to record two more Lost Poets for Radio Wildfire.
So staying with Radio Wildfire – on to this week and the upcoming events.
Radio Wildfire’s live broadcast is tonight at 8:00pm (GMT), which Dave Reeves informs me, includes a great line up of Spoken Word and Music.
www.radiowildfire.com – Monday 5th March 8.00-10.00 pm (UK time) + Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary from 10.00pm + Gary Longden with Longden’s Listings.
March: in like a lamb but we’ve got a lion of a programme lined up in this month’s Radio Wildfire Live!
Listen in for a poem from Jenny Hope submitted to Radio Wildfire especially for Earth Hour 2012; a memoir from Jonathan Taylor extracted from the poignant story of his father’s struggle with Parkinson’s, Take Me Home published by Granta Books; a variety of production poetry variously using multilayered voices and backing drumming from Stephen Mead, Andrew Barnes, and Zeandrick Oliver & James G. Laws; and a short play from Keith Large called Where Does He Go On A Wednesday? – a mystery drama set around life in a timber company, it’s vibrant and engaging and most definitely not wooden: with all of the above having been uploaded to the Radio Wildfire Submit page.
There’ll also be songs featured from the new cd by David Francis, On A Shingle Near Yapton, a truly exceptional piece of work from the New York singer-songwriter and poet; the latest edition of Mal Dewhirst’s The Lost Poets; and, as if that wasn’t enough, in the studio we’ll have poet Roz Goddard talking about her role as coordinator of the West Midlands Readers’ Network.
Plus we’ll be announcing exciting news about another Radio Wildfire live Outside Broadcast that will celebrate 75 years of the Mass Observation Movement.
The show, as always, is presented by Dave Reeves.
Radio Wildfire Live! is followed at 22:00 by the monthly diary from Birmingham’s poet laureate with Jan Watts’ Irons in the Fire and then Longden’s Listings with Gary Longden, the only complete spoken word events diary being transmitted. Listen in and catch your own events being discussed.
Join us: Monday 5th March from 8.00 pm UK time at www.radiowildfire.com
Radio Wildfire: the purr of the big cat’s whisker.
Talking of Birmingham Poet Laureate, Tuesday 6th sees the Monthly Night Blue Fruit in Coventry with the wonderful Jan Watts as guest poet plus open mic. This event starts at 8:00pm at Taylor John’s House in the Canal Basin in Coventry.
On Wednesday I have a meeting with the local council to discuss creative people and places followed by the Mad Hatter’s Writers Group – then I have a free diary to do some writing, film editing and attend a rehearsal for the Leukaemia Research Fund raiser which is on March 30th. Busy,busy, busy – I love it.
My Lost Poet this week is Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694)
I first came across this Japanese Poet through the guitarist Robbie Basho who changed his name to Basho in honour of this master poet who developed the structures of Japanese poetry forms that gave us the Haiku, from the traditional forms of Tanka and the collaborative Haikia no renga.
Matsuo Basho was born Matsuo Kinsaku and was also known as Matsuo Chūemon Munafusa he is the most famous poet of the Edo Period of Japanese Literature and Culture. His father was a low ranking Samurai which would have seen Matsuo progress to a life in the military had he chosen a less notable path for his life.
However as child Basho became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada, who shared Basho’s love of collaborative poetry known as Haikia no renga which saw a poem constructed starting with a Hokku in strict 5-7-5 mora format followed by a 7-7 mora verse from another poetic voice. Basho and Yoshitada developed their voice that saw the first of Basho’s poems published in 1662, they collaborated on several pieces including a one hundred verse Rengu in which they collaborated with several other voices.
It was Yoshitada’s sudden death in 1666 that saw Basho lose the comfort of the role as servant and to resign himself away from a samurai life to become a traveler, he is indecisive as to whether he should become a full time poet and continues to write and be published in anthologies. Renga and Haikia no renga are viewed as low status pastime rather than high artistic form and this may well have influenced his indecision. He does however produce a publication in 1672 entitled the Kai Ōi or the Seashell Game, where he compares the merits of poems produced by him and others.
It is at this time he heads for Edo and ingratiates himself within the fashionable Literary Circles, his poetry is recognized for its natural style and simple form and he is soon initiated into the inner circles that enables him to teach and he is soon the tutor of twenty pupils. Despite this new found appreciation, he feels the need to take himself out of the public eye for a more isolated life and following a series of events such as the death of his mother and his hut burning down his dissatisfaction grows and leads him to embark on the first of four major journeys, two of which I will discuss here..
Travelling throughout the country at this time was considered a dangerous affair and Basho’s initial anticipation was that he would be killed by bandits in some remote location. His mood changes as his journey progresses and he makes friends, his poetry takes in the world around him and reflects his observations rather than the introspective themes of his earlier poetry.
His journey takes him to places such as Mount Fuji and Kyoto where he meets other poets, who seek his advice. In the summer of 1685 he returns to Edo, much refreshed and happily resumes his teaching post. The poetry from his journey is published as Nozarashi kikō Account of Exposure to the fields. Despite his apparent new found contentment in Edo, Basho knows that this will only last through the thought of another journey which he privately plans.
The culmination of the planning leads to him setting out on a journey with his apprentice Kawai Sora in 1689 that saw them explore the Northern Provinces on an epic 2400 kilometer trip. Basho documents the journey in a log, creating poetry as he goes. This was published posthumously as Oku no Hosomichi
The Narrow Road to the Interior.
Basho returns to Edo in 1691 and suffering from illness in his later years, he spends his last days receiving visitors, he died peacefully in 1694 and although he never wrote an official deathbed poem, his last poem has been taken as being a fitting farewell to his life.
tabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru
falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / over a field of dried grass 
Basho interests me on several levels. His development of the Haiku from the traditional forms not being the least. The Haiku becoming a standalone form of the original Hokku.
I can see the similarities between his life and that of Michael Drayton, both poets went into service of literary patron as children who nurtured their craft as poets. Both head to the cultural capital to enhance their study and careers, both write landscape explorations Basho as described above and Drayton PolyOlbion. The Polesworth Circle also wrote collaborative poems through letters, examples of poems written between John Donne and Sir Henry Goodere still exist for us to study.
Collaborative poetry has also been a feature of some of my work in the last year, with the Kite poem on the Poets trail using the words from the Primary School children and the Word poem developed as part of the Nuneaton Summer poetry day.
Links to further information on Matsuo Bashō
Classical Japanese Database – Has some of Bahso’s Haikus
Simply Haiku has an account of Basho’s last days
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
Readings in March.
March 5th – Radio Wildfire – Lost Poets. – Broadcast then on the Loop.
March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.