Poet’s Pet Peeves

(Spoiler: alliteration = not one of them)

Jay Mountney posted about authorial pet peeves and tagged her friends. And because I promised to Do Better At Posting, well… it’s a good reason to ramble about stuff.

1. Energy & Inspiration, Rarely The Twain Meet. Two lovers forced to live apart, only meeting once in a rare moon where the power of their combined magic sprouts forth Words, Glorious Words, in a way that is effortless and exhilarating, your fingers flying across the keyboard, your thoughts flying swift and sure like a cast of hawks. Words happen at other times as well. But it’s never quite as magical as when Energy and Inspiration come together in that one pure moment of time.

2. Can’t Find The Words For This Feeling. When the moment captures you, ties you up, pierces your heart and leaves you aching – could be something you see, or hear, or just a feeling. Could be fleeting blink-and-you-miss it, or it can linger and stretch. Could be the old woman by the beach, or a cat crossing the road, the wetness of fog that glues your lungs together or yearning for something you can’t even put a name to and you know, you know, there’s a poem here, right here, but. But. No words come. Or what words come are wrong and insufficient and make mockery of the moment, make it something false and no, no, you can’t have that, you want to wrap up this moment precisely so, to keep and give at the same time, but you can’t, you just have to live it, to be, and hope that something remains anyway.

3. The Long Percolation. There’s a poem in your head. No, no, not a poem. A seed of a poem. An idea, a tiny egg, a filter packed tight of ground up poem beans, percolating in the poetry machine of your brain that gurgles and gargles and drips and drops like pneumatic coffee maker from year dot. There’s a lot of hissing and puffs of steam are coming out of your ears, you swear they are, and why is this taking so long? You want that poem right now! You can almost taste it, but no, it’s still percolating. Forever. Percolating. Argh.

4. I’ve Got This Phrase But It Ain’t Mine. When you have the perfect line in your head. Except that it’s not yours because it got stuck in your head from a poem, song, story… And it’s beautiful and you love it but god damn it won’t go away so every time you try to write something of your own it wants to insinuate itself onto the page. Go away you precious phrase child, I love you But You Ain’t Mine.

5. They’ve Done It Perfect, Might As Well Go Home. When you encounter a poem by someone else that is so perfect the feeling it evokes is beyond petty jealousy and straight into the realm of ‘the universe is now complete, I can add nothing, good day to you’. Like ‘why do I even bother, look at his perfection right here and weep’. Wallow. Take a deep breath. Remember that poetry is like love. There’s always room for more.

That’s enough whining for a day, don’t you think? Your turn now. What are your writing pet peeves?

The rooftops all veiled in snow…

Except not, because there is no snow in Finland this Christmas. Stupid climate change.

Anyway! Hello! Bet you’re surprised to see me here. I am as well. I’m fully aware that I have let this blog and poetry in general kind of… drift to the background, while I’ve been buried under work commitments. I’m not happy about this so I’m going to try hard to make time for creativity and things-other-than-work in 2017. *pinky swear*

But let’s start with a seasonal post.

Here is one of my favourite Nordic/Finnish* Christmas songs, although it doesn’t mention Christmas once. It’s about a kotitonttu** doing his rounds and pondering on an important question. I may have spent quite some time translating the lyrics into English in a way that kept the meter (almost, there are a couple of lines that still sound awkward when I try to sing them) and the rhyme (pretty pleased with this) without compromising on the meaning too much (Finnish speakers, I’d be interested in what you think!). There is at least one another English translation out there but it is a literal one with, and I wanted one that actually fitted the song, so…

* The lyrics are a translation from a Swedish poem but the melody seems to vary from country to country
**Notes on the term ‘tonttu’: The word itself is a Swedish loan and
you can read about pan-Nordic mythology here. The Finnish word is haltija, and particularly here the song is talking about the kotitonttu or kotihaltija (house gnome, house elf, house guardian) rather than the Christmas version per se. I would also recommend reading the Haltija Wiki article. For the lyrics, I decided not to translate ‘tonttu’ because everything else (elf, gnome, brownie) just wasn’t quite right.

Anyway, here is the song…

With this I’d like to wish my dearest Flist:

Happy Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah…
However you celebrate, or don’t, have a lovely mid-winter time!

The lyrics translation is under the cut!

Continue reading

Lyrics Translation: Veteran’s Evening Call

***

I’ve been very busy and very stressed lately, which is not conducive to creativity of any kind and I’ve mostly been feeling like a dishrag squeezed dry and left moulding in the corner. I haven’t written any poetry for ages, and I haven’t even felt like reading any, and I have been keeping away from poetry events as well due to feeling antisocial and less than creative. It’s a slump, bring on the violins.

But. I did do a lyrics translation of a Finnish song in honour of Finland’s Independence Day on the 6th of December and I thought I’d post it here for posterity if nothing else. It was quite tricky but interesting to do. I tried to keep the meter and the meaning, so it isn’t a literal translation although it is pretty damn close most of the time. I’d be most interested to hear what Finnish-speakers think of my efforts!

Veteraanin iltahuuto
(lyrics and composition © Kalervo Hämäläinen)

Rannalle himmeän lahden aurinko laskenut on.
Kutsu jo soi iltahuudon, taakka jo laskettu on.
Taattoa muista sa silloin, askel jo uupunut on.
Lapset ja lastemme lapset, teidän nyt vuoronne on.

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

Hymni soi holvissa hiljaa, tummana kaipuuta soi.
Aika on korjannut viljaa, sarka jo kynnetty on.
Ammoin me marssimme kahden, tulta löi taivas ja maa.
Rannoilta Äänisen lahden kelle nyt kertoa saa?

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

Laineissa Laatokan mahti, kahlita kenkään ei voi.
Veljet sen rantoja vahti, konsa on koittava koi?
Ylväänä Karjalan heimo tuskansa kantanut on.
Maaäiti suojaansa sulkee, vartija poissa jo on.

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

 

Veteran’s Evening Call
(translation © Kat Soini)

The sun has set on the shores of a dusky bay
The evening call bids to here one’s burdens lay
Remember your elders, steps grown tired and slow
Our children and children’s children, now it’s your time to go

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

The vaults echo with a quiet hymn, full of ache and sorrow
Time has gathered its harvest, empty now stands each furrow
Once we marched together, the earth was in fire and the sky
From the sands of Onega bay, to whom of this can I cry?

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

The waves of Ladoga’s might, shackles all broken and gone
Brothers kept watch on the shores, waiting for sovereign morn
Karelia’s kin has carried its pain with honour and pride
Sheltered in earth’s embrace, now rests guard and guide

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

***

Review of Anna Robinson’s The Night Library

I was delighted to do another review for London Grip, this time for Anna Robinson’s intriguingly named The Night Library. This is a book that sat on my bedside table for quite a few weeks. I thought I was too busy and avoiding my reviewer duties, but turns out the book was just patiently waiting for the exact moment it was needed…

…there was the book, within arm’s reach, and so I picked it up, said: “Shall I read a bit?” and opened it to the first poem. It began so:

	At night, left to their devices, words rise
	from their pages, using just their own warmth
	to lift and hang and seek each other, like for like.

“Oh,” we thought, “yes,”’ and held each other tighter.

Read my full review here at London Grip.

Unexpected Rec!

I promise vids of poetry are coming soon (I will sincerely try to post them this weekend in between the million and other things on my list!) but for now I just wanted to preen about an unexpected rec I received (thanks Matt for pointing it out!).

Keep Me In a Hole which was published in the last year’s Halloween Special of Glitterwolf was included in Ellen Datlow‘s recommendation list of Best Horror of the Year. You can find the full rec list here: a-l and l-z. I am extremely chuffed!

Perhaps you are looking for little Halloween reading in which case that list should serve you well – I wish had time to chase up and read all the other stuff there! And if you want to read Keep Me In A Hole, you can buy the magazine on Amazon: UK buy link and US buy link. My other two poems on it – Corpus Delicti and Overture – can be read in the free taster. Or you can come along to the next poetry night at The Chapel in Broadstairs, 8-10pm on 13th of October, and I’ll promise to do all three at the open mic session  – which incidentally will be after the book launch for Michael Curtis’ Lullaby Days.

Right. That’s enough self-marketing for tonight. Time to go to sleep, me thinks!

Poet at repose

Chilling at my favourite Broadstairs pub The Chapel after a successful reading at Margate’s Pie Factory.

At the chapel

Both Mark and Sienna Holihan were superb as usual and I have some videos of all of us performing so keep your eyes peeled for those in a few days time!

Until then… Cheers! *toasts you all with ginger cider*

Poetic journey…

Today I had a mental health day which included visiting Margate for some art, and cinema to see Ant-Man. Because that’s art too. I enjoyed all pretty equally.

Possibly the best bit though was seeing the below in the Pie Factory window, as I went to check the first half of the Barber’s Son, Hairdresser’s Daughter exhibition (A Slice of Pink Cake).

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Who’s excited yet? THAT’S RIGHT, I AM 😀

Upcoming Reading @ Pie Factory

I’m delighted to provide more details about the upcoming reading!

What: Mark Holihan, Kat Soini and Sienna Holihan will be presenting some late afternoon poetry and music at the Pie Factory in Margate on Saturday 29th August from 4pm. The performance will be based around the theme of the journey, both physically and spiritually and will feature original poetry and new, original acoustic music. Kat Soini is a local poet who writes popular blogs and is widely published. Originally from Finland, she writes both in English and Finnish and has been long-listed for the Canterbury Poet of the Year 2015. Mark is originally from the US and is an award-winning writer who has work published in many anthologies and is also long-listed for the Canterbury Poet of the Year 2015. Mark has his first collection coming out in 2016, published by Cultured Llama. Mark’s Twitter and Instagram. Sienna Holihan is studying Contemporary Crafts in Falmouth and is a popular local singer songwriter. She is known for her haunting melodies and striking, original lyrics. Her first EP was produced this year and will be available at the performance. Sienna’s Facebook page.

When: 4pm, Sat 29 August, 2015

Where: Pie Factory Gallery, Margate, UK

Why: In support of Barber’s Son Hairdresser’s Daughter, a multi-media exhibition on artists’ journeys.

image2

Please come along if you can. And please, if you are so inclined, spread the word.

New Publication @ Cyclamens and Swords

I am delighted to have a poem included in the August 2015 issue of Cyclamens and Swords. This is a special issue on the theme of ‘relationships’ and contains verse from 52 poets, 10 short stories, and some gorgeous artwork from 7 artists.

You can find my poem ‘no turning back now’ in the middle of Page 3. This is a poem I wrote in September 2011, in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep (this was during the last six months before PhD submission so I was more than likely stressing myself to insomnia) – I know that because the post date on my locked poetry journal is 01.57! It’s a disjointed hymn to youthful earnestness and conviction that it’s always possible to get up and leave.

Because of the sheer size of the issue I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim the poetry and admire some of the artwork (the short stories are on the ‘to read’ list!). So here are some extremely selective and extremely subjective recommendations of verse that resonated.

On Page 1 I enjoyed

  • Summer Storm, a haiku sequence by Adelaide B. Shaw (her haiku blog here) – I am supremely awful at haiku or any kind of structured poetry so greatly admire such skill in others. These were lovely and fresh.
  • He Was an Artiste by Angelika Quirk – Women – even portraits of them – won’t be owned!
  • Nina’s Five Husbands by Art Heifetz – This made me chuckle out loud, the ending is priceless. I also lost quite a bit of time at the author’s poetry blog: Polished Brass Poems
  • While we wait by Ashwini Bhasi – A perfectly depicted moment
  • Lear and White spot by Britta R Kollberg – First will delight any Shakespeare fan, and the second makes me think of Alexander The Great though I doubt that was the intention
  • My Love For You and Multiverse by Christina Tang-Bernas – The first is lusciously visceral and the second is something every sci-fi (sci-fact!) fan has thought whilst cuddling to their loved one.

Page 2 yielded such gems as

  • Crossing Conditions by Dawn McGuire – There was something about this mix of environmental and personal, that spoke to me at this particular point. Both dream-like and grounded.
  • Joy, like a Purple Balloon by Diane Frank – The kind of joy and positivity I really needed
  • War Children by Gila Landman – Poignant. We live in the world of sides.
  • Four Corners by Helen Bar-Lev – I enjoyed the elemental imagery a lot!

Skimming through Page 3 I stopped at

  • Reverie and Memory by Jessica Goody – Painful shades of loss
  • Wedding Photo, Chi Nan Fu China Mission, December 7, 1897 and When Stella Saw Herb Skating by John B. Lee – Arresting imagery takes the reader to the past
  • Speed Dating and Muriel and Robert by Johnmichael Simon – Gentle amusement at the vagaries of romance
  • “Death stalks me with a flower between her teeth” by Laurice Gilbert – Won me over with a Buffy reference and kept me with the rather clever and literary musings on death
  • Flight-Path Tel Aviv – Melbourne by Lilian Cohen – This one struck way too close for comfort
  • Kelp by Lytton Bell – Love the wild meeting of sea and shore
  • Being At Home, en Paris by Marian Kaplun Shapiro – Poetry that mixes languages always resonates with me. Also this reminds me of my own Paris poem. And the fact that sometime I probably should actually go there…

And finally on Page 4 the following caught my attention

  • The Fight in Spain by Merridawn Duckler – Funny and poignant and ringing true. Also, what an awesome name this poet has!
  • Obsession by Norma Ketzis – Well this is how to keep a man 😀 I know several who’d prefer it that way…
  • About That Kiss by RC deWinter – Sensual yet self-possessed

Good things come in threes…

I have been terribly amiss about updating this blog but if it makes you feel better, the same is true for all my blogs. Also applicable to such things as ‘catching up with emails’ or ‘maintaining social relations in general’. So there is that. For the last two weeks I’ve been on holiday in Finland, and the several weeks before that I was basically brain dead from work. However, I’ve taken receiving a third ‘good news item’ regarding poems as a sign to ‘post already goddammit’.

So I’m posting. Goddammit.

Good news item 1. I’ve got a poem (no turning back now) accepted to the Cyclamens and Swords. The August issue where it will be is due out soon and I shall pimp it properly then, together with the usual mini-review of poems that I enjoy.

Good news item 2. A fellow poet has asked me to join him to do a reading at the Margate’s Pie Factory Gallery at the end of August. I don’t know any of the details yet but I am very flattered and excited by this. A reading! In a gallery! *flails a bit* Information to follow once I have it!

Good news item 3. My poem Such Mercy got longlisted for the Canterbury Poet of the Year competition. My reaction upon receiving the email was a resounding HOLY CRAP! This means that it is one of the 36 poems that will definitely be in the published anthology. Out of the longlist, the judges will then select a shortlist of 14. I have no expectations regarding that whatsoever, the longlisting alone has made me wide-eyed with giddy disbelief 😀

This all has definitely motivated me to keep writing and sending stuff out to magazines and competitions. I’m due another submission blitz soon I think…