Assignment 2 – A gin and tonic on the harbor

By fisherman’s huts

Where oysters were shucked

Sun’s rays warm my face

Wind rustles my hair

By pastel beach huts

Of lilac and green

Light flecks on water

Kids shout out and squeal

Laughter floats in from

The ladies who need

Flip-flops and sandals

To walk by the sea

Instead they stumble

Bare-foot over rocks

As afternoon haze

Curves on the far shore

Assignment 2 – Reflective Commentary

In “My dad smells like pee,” the title describes dad’s biggest challenge during his illness. I chose similes and metaphors that described him; for example, he enjoyed tea in a china cup and was also a spiritual person. In earlier drafts, I enjambed the meaning of lines over two lines but the poem read too quickly. Dad was slow. I chose first and second combined point of view to show an intimate conversation between a daughter and her father. As Josip Novakovich mentions in Fiction Writer’s Workshop: ‘This is the type of POV combination… frequently found in love poetry’ which seemed appropriate (1995:111).

“The 18:11 from Cannon Street” describes my journey home from work. It shows irritation rather than anger. The rhythm mimics a train’s motion, but I also attempted to emulate the tempo of angry hip-hop lyrics, like Forget about Dre by Dr. Dre:

‘…But ya’ll think I’m gonna let my dough freeze
Ho Please
You better bow down on both knees
Who you think taught you to smoke trees?’ (Young, 1999)

In “Last night he stood on platform one,” I used images to show loneliness, for example, the cathedral after evensong – when everyone has gone home. Searching through the poem for adjectives, I changed the title from “Last night he stood on the cold platform” to “… platform one” as coldness is described in the poem in the sixth line “his breath drifted in clouds above his head.” Peter Sansom in Writing Poetry states: ‘We are suspicious of adjectives… if you just had the right noun or verb, you wouldn’t need any at all’ (1994:50).

“A gin and tonic on the harbour” was written to show the happiness of spring coming to England. I wrote the draft of this poem in Whitstable watching English people enjoy the seaside and warm weather. 

“The funeral” describes my dad’s funeral. I chose quatrain stanzas with alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter to mimic Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I could not stop for Death:

‘Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality’ (cited in Sansom, 1994:91).

I hoped the meter would show the slow procession as the hearse reaches the cemetery and through the ceremony to the end as the coffin disappears behind the curtains. Once again, I chose first and second combined point of view to show an intimate relationship.

“What’s up now?” is a poem about anger. I used short lines and repetition to show this emotion. Also, I chose words that depict rage such as “red” and “slashed.” Mary Oliver says in A Poetry Handbook that the way words sound have an influence on the reading of a poem. Words that end with mutes (b, d, k, p, q, t, and c and g hard) stop the breath. Oliver says that ‘Shut up… is abrupt; it indicates… impatience and even anger… t and p are not softened… the mutes are the final brittle explosion of the word’ (1994:23). I chose words for this poem with mutes at the end, for example, shriek, lipstick, and spat to heighten the anger.




Novakovich, J. (1995) Fiction Writer’s Workshop.Cincinnati: F&W Publications.

Oliver, M. (1994) A Poetry Handbook. New York: Harcourt.

Sansom, P. (1994) Writing Poems.Tarset: Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Young, A. R. (1999) Forgot about Dre In: 2001. Santa Monica: Interscope Records

Assignment 2 – Reflections on Tutor’s Comments

The way that poems are laid on the page is important. The way a poem looks is important. Usually, they are single line spaced unless there is a good reason why not.

Punctuation is only necessary to guide the reader as to the writer’s intentions. I find this hard to understand and do. And it has to be consistent, but I cannot find the rules. Poems are not prose, and do not follow the rules of prose, but punctuation needs to be consistent. I will just do my best to understand what that means. And read a lot about it…

I have control over my lines and how I use them – and what words I chose at the end. This is something I struggle with too. Apparently, you can end them where the breath or meaning ends or you can take the meaning over to the next line to take the reader along which seems to speed up the poetry. But when I used long lines – the tutor said it was jerky and jumpy but not that it was wrong just that it did not make it slower.

Capitals at the beginning of the line are not used in modern free verse as they shout out.

Careful with metre and formal form as it is not as easy as it looks. Stick with free verse for now.

Tense – careful with tense – keep an eye on it.



Part 2 – Poems Read – Write up on Poems

    The Old World

Charles Simic


I believe in the soul; so far

It hasn’t made much difference.

I remember an afternoon in Sicily.

The ruins of some temple.

Columns fallen in the grass like naked lovers.


The olives and goat cheese tasted delicious

And so did the wine

With which I toasted the coming night,

The darting swallows,

The Saracen wind and moon.


It got darker. There was something

Long before there were words:

The evening meal of shepherds . . .

A fleeting whiteness among the trees . . .

Eternity eavesdropping on time.


The goddess going to bathe in the sea.

She must not be followed.

These rocks, these cypress trees,

May be her old lovers.

Oh to be one of them, the wine whispered to me.



Carol Ann Duffy


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.


Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.


Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales

console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls

a child’s name as though they named their loss.


Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –

Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


Orkney / This Lifepoem

Andrew Greig


It is big sky and its changes,

the sea all round and the waters within.

It is the way sea and sky

work off each other constantly,

like people meeting in Alfred Street,

each face coming away with a hint

of the other’s face pressed in it.

It is the way a week-long gale

ends and folk emerge to hear

a single bird cry way high up.


It is the way you lean to me

and the way I lean to you, as if

we are each other’s prevailing;

how we connect along our shores,

the way we are tidal islands

joined for hours then inaccessible,

I’ll go for that, and smile when I

pick sand off myself in the shower.

The way I am an inland loch to you

when a clatter of white whoops and rises…


It is the way Scotland looks to the South,

the way we enter friends’ houses

to leave what we came with, or flick

the kettle’s switch and wait.

This is where I want to live,

close to where the heart gives out,

ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky

where birds fly through instead of prayers

while in Hoy Sound the ferry’s engines thrum

this life this life this life.


I remember

Joe Brainard

Quite amazing

It is a whole book of memories

Some boring some shocking

The memories are mostly no longer than a paragraph. Some only a couple of sentences

All the memories start with I Remember…

The sentences are written in prose



Allen Ginsberg

I loved this

I did not understand it all

But I loved the way it fell along the lines in rage

It reminds me of some of Patti Smith’s ramblings

112 lines long – but the lines go over 4 lines some times – indented on the next lines (2nd3rdetc)

3 sections – first mainly start with “who” – second mainly start with ‘moloch’ – third mainly starts with ‘I’m’.

Moloch means the biblical name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice – Ginsberg means ‘the heavy judger of men’ – the power to give and take – a reference to capitalism which he was against (online references – Wikipedia and howl critical edition)

Third section about Carl Solomon a patient in hospital that Ginsberg met who was also a writer and wrote ‘Report from Asylum: Afterthoughts of a Shock Patient.

Out of the Dust

Karen Hesse

Supposedly a children’s poem but I loved it.

Full of images that just take you to the moments

I especially loved the first page describing her and her birth in the dustbowl on the floor of the house her parents lived in.

It is free verse

Like many different poems throughout the book but all about the same story of a girl born in depression USA in the dust bowl and a period of her life where she had many challenges.

It is a whole book with these poem sections that make up one large poem.


Part two – Ex 3 – The Sound of Words

Hoot Tremble Baton Anxiety Damaged Weird Maverick

Bad Scar Slow Crevice Dilates Blew Struggle

Breathtaking Stamp Laugh Sprung

Muffle Warm Toasty Cold Freeze Ice

Pretty Beautiful Glamorous Sexy Homely

Free Prison Prism Closed Enclose

Bang Crash Wallop Bash Tickle Tap

Temple Home Office Bungalow Flat Apartment

A part from

Tart Sharp Zing Ping Juicy

Draped Melt Battered Snort Dark

Scarlet Plum Swell Smother Sweet

Part Two – Ex 2 – Rhythms in Sentences

Five or six sentences in iambic pentameter


She fed her cat on caviar and lime

He washed his plates with sodden dirty rags

Under the table sat the anxious dog

The brilliant sky was blue with powdered clouds

My bed was made with pillows, sheets, and love

Ships rode the river up and back again

Pouring the milk upon my coco pops


Understanding faults coming home to tea

He interested her brother in law

Tomes written in half the previous time

Modern verse is spoken in double time

Poets pattern lines arduously now

Part Two – Ex 1 – Rhythm of Names

Crewe Cannock Chase Budleigh Salterton Devizes

Budleigh Salterton and Cannock Chase Crewe and Devizes

Devizes Crewe and Cannock Chase Budleigh Salterton

Cannock Chase Cannnock Chase Crew Budleigh Salterton

Crewe Cannock Crew Cannock Budleigh Chase and Salterton


Mudeford Wortley Stelling Minnis Covent Garden

Covent Garden Wortley Stelling Minnis Mudeford

Wortley Wortley Covent Garden Stelling Minnis Mudeford

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Stelling Minnis

Stelling Minnis

Mudeford Mudeford

Pour on water pour on water


Kendal Charnock Richard Bury St. Edmunds Otterton

Kendal Charnock Richard Bury St Ed

Bury St. Edmunds and Charnock Richard

Kendal and Otterton and Kendal

Bury St Edmunds and Kendal

Otterton and Charnock Richard


Amiens Lyon Pontoise Arles

Arles Amiens Pontoise Lyon

Amiens Amiens Amiens

Pontoise Lyon Amiens Arles

Lyon Lyon Lyon

Lyon Amiens Arles and Pontoise

Pontoise Lyon Arles and Amiens



Notes on Course Book Part 2

Connection has been perceived between poetry and madness

Believed that the poet is specially gifted

Poets are slightly dotty

Poetry is a craft as well as an art

Depending on good observation and much practice

Read other’s poems with an intelligent and well-informed eye

This will increase your understanding of what they are doing and what can be done

Imitation is an important method of attaining technical skill

Read widely

Not just 20thand 21stcentury writing

Read first and foremost for enjoyment

Sample and taste and if you find something you enjoy read it again

Learn why you like it and how it is built

“Make yourself aware of the sounds and rhythms of a poem that catches your attention”

Originality depends on freshness of observation and the words chosen to convey it

Your own life with provide material for originality – that is the your own slant on life – is how it has happened in your life


How to read a poem

Skim through it to get an idea of tone and shape

Look carefully at title which might give an idea of  the poets particular slant

Read again but slowly

Then read out loud – notice moods in the sounds


Good poetry does not approximate and needs no explanation. It stands on its own.

Words speak for themselves with understanding, associations and sounds

No two words have identical connotations

“words are sticky with association and history”

The sounds of words are just as important as their meaning

Formal form and metre has become less necessary

But sounds are used with rhythm just not formal rhythm

The exercises included working with

The rhythm of names [Crewe – Cannock Chase – Budleigh Salterton]

The rhythm of sentences [I’m sitting down to drink a cup of tea]

The sound of words [a sound of word may connect closely with its meaning – smooth – livid – slide – dawdle – hullaballo]

Sounds and breath [The lights begin to twinkle on the rocks. (Like a whisper)

The long day wanes. The slow moon climbs. The deep (long drawn out and the breathe after “deep”)

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends! (the end is decisive)