Wednesday, October 26, 2011

poetry snapshots special: brian evans-jones's poetry 20:20

This month, I've been enjoying a daily poem by poet and creative writing tutor Brian Evans-Jones, so I invited him over to my delayed reactions, along with a poem, to talk about his October poetry project.

This poem was written on Friday 7th.

Half five,
the alarm clock
machine guns sleep. Bedroom
black as a bin with lid pressed tight.

bunkered in dreams.
He coughs, curses, rises.
No point washing: sweat will oil him
all day.

Red cig
lights a flare path
down the stairs. The kids breathe,
dervishes on hold. Here’s his kit:
thick boots

the weight
of half-lost dreams;
trousers that hiss his steps;
his yellow wasp’s coat. One quick brew,
and go.

Cold bites
like a puppy
learning its lock. He jogs,
joins the wan swarm at the depot,

The poems are going up on Facebook at Brian Evans-Jones's Poetry 20:20. Please send a request to join if you'd like to come and read them. For more about the rationale and progress, see Brian's blog.

Brian says: 'Poetry 20:20 is a project I'd been mulling over for a few months and finally decided to do. The basic concept is simple: for four weeks in October, I write a new poem every day, Monday to Friday - making 20 poems in all.

However, because I prefer doing things that are not just difficult but really really difficult, I also decided to set myself a whole other set of constraints: 15 in all, 5 relating to subject matter and prompts, 5 to form, and 5 to style. So most days a poem conforms to 3 constraints, in addition to the simple one of being written at all.

Why set myself such a daft task? Several reasons. Firstly, I've been through a year when I had very little time to write, and now that's over I want to take on something big.

Secondly, perhaps because I hadn't been writing very often, I felt that my poetry had become stuck in a rut of sameness. So I set the constraints to make sure that I would be forced to do other things.

And lastly, because I just want to see if I can do it! So far it's going well: I'm enjoying the pressure and am pleasantly surprised at the quality of what I can produce in just 1 to 2 hours' work.

I'm also reaping some benefits that I didn't anticipate: a big boost in my negative capability, for example, since day after day a chaotic process magically turns into a complete poem. Also a burgeoning ability to cut, quickly and cleanly, to the heart of what I want to write about, without getting hung up on small issues.

Without a doubt, writing a daily poem is something I would heartily recommend.'

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