Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Round the Wrekin

I’ve been struggling to write a paper for a conference.
It’s not that I don’t want to do it. I do. It’s not that I’m not interested in what I have to say. I am. The problem is that I know exactly what I am going to say. I could stand there and talk the thing without notes and nail it in forty five minutes. Writing it seems tedious.
A plod from point to point.

Dammit: I should have lived in an oral culture.

Writing is interesting when it starts to reveal things, slides down side alleys into weird little corners or suggests directions I hadn’t thought of. Can’t afford that here. Simply plodding; it’s just hard work.

Anyway that’ s my minor revelation and my excuse and I’m sticking to it until tomorrow, when I will have run out of time and will just have to write the damn thing.
A man walks into the pub. He has two guitars. Later, when we go out for a break he accepts an invitation to play. I hear the unmistakable sounds of “Blackwater Side’. I’ve never heard it done live and never worked out how to do it. I wander back in to listen.

I’m seventeen again, back home in my bedroom in Coventry, the window’s open and it’s a warm summer afternoon. I’m sitting with the Eko, the familiar smell of its dark fragrant interior, the slightly sick smell of steel strings, the relaxed feel of that slightly curved fretboard. I'm staring hard at a John Renbourne song book, trying to learn his version of Jansch’s “Reynadine”. (and failing)

Later, we talk. It’s a conversation consisting entirely of snatches of guitar music, verses of songs, titles, names. Shorthand. Things I didn’t know I had remembered.
I knew I should have lived in an oral society.

I come away feeling vindicated. Earthed. Driving home in the dark feeling as if I’ve just been gifted with the permission to touch something old and solid.

A gentle reminder of something valued, the suggestion that it can be taken out in public once in a blue moon. Not lost, or forgotten, just waiting around patiently.
Having knocked the new writing project into a mini shape to see what it looks like, I can have a break (when the conference paper is written, Liam, only when you’ve written the conference paper.) Since the project is a narrative, I read S/z, which is one of the most enjoyable books I can remember reading. Talk about reading as discovery. And Narrative Discourse, which doesn’t quite have the gleeful élan of s/z but which I thoroughly enjoyed. Applying these two now to Carmilla, to see how that story works, to see if I’ve got the ideas sorted in my head and to rediscover the story.

All this to cycle back to “For All We Know” in the hopes of it answering some questions for me which will then feed into the writing project. Round the wrekin, I'd admit, but that's often the best way to get anywhere.


Why can’t poeting be as social as traditional music. Set question for Mr. C. Carson.


Unknown said...

And he'd tell you that it is, it's just that the writing is solitary. I loved For All We Know, devoured it many times and still wonder how the feck it all holds together so well. Lucky sod.

Liam Guilar said...

Ah, I fogot you had met him. Lucky person.
I've been reading as many narrative sequences as i can get my hands on, some very good (Australian mostly), some not so, but his is, I think is one of the few, well, the only one I've read so far, that really does suggest that writing a narative in poetry allows you to do things you couldn't in prose. And I have reread it so many times and it just gets better. It shoudln't work. It should be too vague. So now I've just got to try and work out what he's doing, and why it works.
Some people are so good envy is redunant.