Carrying on from yesterday – the inspirations behind the stories and poetry in Not Only the Ink is Black.
A Modern British Valentine
This poem (also called A Traditional British Valentine in some versions) was written in protest at the slushiness inherent in Valentine’s Day messages when for most of the year many couples seem to be at each other’s throats (or so it seems when I visit the supermarket!). It was also written especially for a love poetry competition at the University of Gloucestershire. Happily, I won – but only because I was the only entrant! Obviously love wasn’t a popular topic among the students. Maybe a poetry competition about beer would have done better. Anyway, as the winning poem, it was supposed to be published in the student mag, but apparently it was too racy (!) for the editors (it was a very theologically based uni at the time!), and they refused to print it!
A story that formed part of a module portfolio at uni. I had intended there to be four similarly supernatural stories, each based upon an element. Airhead was, of course, ‘Air’, just as Still Here was ‘water’. There was an ‘earth’ story called Melisande’s Garden, but I didn’t think it good enough to be included in the anthology. A ‘fire’ story was never written.
Tearing Off Chains
The oldest poem in the collection, dating back to 1993, during a period when I was emerging from a bad time and re-finding myself again. The book in the poem is a real one: Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. This book literally saved my life and taught me how to love myself as a woman and be strong again. I have performed this poem on several occasions and been told that I look quite terrifying as I spit it out *evil laugh*.
An experimental piece – not quite a poem but not a short story either: what is known as a prose poem. I loved the idea of life moving at a different pace, with each stream having its own concerns. The human world is shown as being busy and noisy – and yet staying mostly the same in the details. Yet above the bustle, in a cocoon that seems to barely move, life is changing and growing.
Along with Bella Donna, one of my favourite stories, and perhaps the closest to my style today. I love how it gives hints about something not being quite right – such as the street lamps going out as they walk past, and all is revealed in the twist at the end (about which, of course, I’m saying nothing more!). I can still see those boots vividly, even today.
Another experimental prose poem contrasting the elegance of classical music with the act of domestic violence. When I wrote this, I sat and listened to lots and lots of classical music to find the right pieces to fit with the narration.
Part Three tomorrow…