Poetry: Bilbao by Frances Holloway

Bilbao

 
Here we go merrily
playing coffin games again
the dead will out
Have you seen the glass furnaces of Bilbao?
How pretty in the sky at night
those hypnotising spumes of purple green and blue
but oh how putrid her river
 
How many times have we buried her now?
and each times she acquiesces
the guest of honour at a pleasant gathering
The sisters always present and apparently in league
inventing new party games
making speeches
and all the cleaning up to be done after
 
With those sunken Spanish eyes still-lidded
she watches over her own funeral
and all the grief that should accompany
these occasions
these goings on
has been dispatched to some other place
and all the love I feel for her takes a different face
 
Bilbao, queen of the industrial age
subsided into decadence and crime
El Ayuntamiento is trying
but do the dead
ever really walk again?
 
She should have been queen of a much nicer family
our lives might have resolved splendidly then
around the solid centre of her private world
her inner churnings and grumblings
might have taught us how to live with ourselves
how to overthrow tyrants
and make a good Christmas cake
 
But we sided with the tyrants
and mass produced our toxic thought forms
Now I have to keep burying her night after night.
 
Bilbao is © Frances Holloway

frances holloway

Poetry: Bilbao by Frances Holloway

Review: Dispersal by Frances Holloway

frances holloway
 
Dispersal By Frances Holloway
 
The clouds roll up in dairy scoops
the anvil and the tower
blowflies die their tiny deaths
and thirsty gums shed flowers
the silence falls, no magpie calls
and then it moves-
    the whisper wind
to rattling applause
 
Dispersal is © Frances Holloway
  
 
  
Pomonal Publishing, 2014

Frances Holloway is a poet storyteller whose work is wry and full to bursting with ideas. Pomonal Publishing have done well in snaring the woman and bringing her work out. Holloway’s books capture a universe, they are almost nourishing. I say this as a reader who seeks visualism and colour in her poems. I look for intensity and light in a poem, I do not care if the light is dark or jewel-like,

 

Bilbao

 
Here we go merrily
playing coffin games again
the dead will out
Have you seen the glass furnaces of Bilbao?
How pretty in the sky at night
those hypnotising spumes of purple green and blue
but oh how putrid her river
 
How many times have we buried her now?
and each times she acquiesces
the guest of honour at a pleasant gathering
The sisters always present and apparently in league
inventing new party games
making speeches
and all the cleaning up to be done after
 
With those sunken Spanish eyes still-lidded
she watches over her own funeral
and all the grief that should accompany
these occasions
these goings on
has been dispatched to some other place
and all the love I feel for her takes a different face
 
Bilbao, queen of the industrial age
subsided into decadence and crime
El Ayuntamiento is trying
but do the dead
ever really walk again?
 
She should have been queen of a much nicer family
our lives might have resolved splendidly then
around the solid centre of her private world
her inner churnings and grumblings
might have taught us how to live with ourselves
how to overthrow tyrants
and make a good Christmas cake
 
But we sided with the tyrants
and mass produced our toxic thought forms
Now I have to keep burying her night after night.
 
Bilbao is from Dispersal by Frances Holloway
 

Women poets often have to fight to remain visible. The reader may be concerned at lack of citation, credible review, and honour for the woman poet. Frances Holloway’s work reminds the reader however that there are infinitely more important things in this world than poetry and it’s dissemination. A reclusive or even withdrawn approach to creativity is become a valid life choice in a world where psychosis is paraded via mass-media purveying execution and torture as a type of snuff-reality, yes really.

Dispersal, the eponymous poem of this brief and lit collection is set as the last poem in the book. This is in itself unusual, as editors often build the backbone of their book on the title poem, as spine, structure and support system to the text.  Instead of the eponymous poem, the reader discovers a group of poems each as good as the rest. These poems are Death Comes and Goes in the Garden, Never Explain, Never  Apologise, The Undead , Fox , and Night Horses. I think that in this case Jane’s editorial choice is vindicated. Dispersal, though a small book of some 56 pages really exhibits an embarrassment of riches for the reader’s pleasure. I was lost regarding which poem’s I would excerpt for this blog.

Frances Holloway plays to her strengths. Her dispersal of idea and image is wry and occurs in it’s millions, a huge seeded flower that requires a broader canvas. One of the spores reached me and for that I am glad. I want to know what it is like to live in solitude, to listen to the muse, to often reject her, and to have the time (writing time) to create and maybe someday, someone will pick up one of my small chapbooks in the reeling crazy of her life and still momentarily. I could question why Holloway has hidden her poetic voice for such a time, but it really is not my business.

 
If I run barefoot from my door
to the tank-stand on the hill
I collect one hundred wounds
but none that time won’t heal
 
From One moment in paradise is a whole lifetime

Well done to Pomonal Poetry, keep doing what you are doing . Keep producing those books of poetic story and intimate clarity. Despite varied assertions as to the demise of poetry, or indeed the market-driven idea of what is a book – there is room for the serious poetry reader to explore, and if they must reject the endless novels, the lack of thought, and the emptying poetry shelves to make it clear to the big publishers that there are poetry-readers, then go online and discover the indies who are filling the void left by the market-driven publishing house. There are always options.

Eventually the pull for neutral, emotional and plain silly drivel will bottom out, and those publishers who have craved a market-share by dropping their poetry lists and pushing half-cocked writers like James Franco, will realise that market is driven by respect for art, and not necessarily by coke-fuelled soirées that want to push the next big thing on us- fuck the next big thing. I want a window on the world, and songs of the heart.

 

Not withstanding suicide bombers and falling
towers, the surgeon’s knife, my mother’s coffin,
departure of friends, marks of disease, threats of
disgrace and pain’s bombardment – the most
frightening thing I have seen is my father in his
pyjamas reaching to embrace me.

 
from Night Horses by Frances Holloway

The poetry reader will be rewarded by Holloway, and he or she will have to go looking for poets of integrity in the grit and slime of what is being pushed by the big cheeses.

Review: Dispersal by Frances Holloway

A note from Olivia Guest at Jonathan Clowes Ltd.

Author and Poet Doris Lessing
Author and Poet Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing died a matter of days after I had received permission to carry some of the poems from her Fourteen Poems on this blog indefinitely. I had put up the following note and message and see no reason to remove it. I am happy that I have carried her work for a few years.  I wrote a brief tribute to Lessing’s writing and influence on my writing life here.

 

Dear Christine

We’d be delighted for you to host the poems for longer especially if you’re getting such good reactions. Doris Lessing was never very keen on her poetry and didn’t think it was any good so I doubt we will see a re-issue but at least this way, they are available in an alternative form.
 
Many thanks and best wishes
 
Olivia


A note from Olivia Guest at Jonathan Clowes Ltd.

Poems by Doris Lessing.

Fable

When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable , those walls , we thought,
Dark with ancient shields.  The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Yet, for all it was quiet and warm as a hand,
If one of us drew the curtains
A threaded rain blew carelessly outside.
Sometimes a wind crept, swaying the flames,
And set shadows crouching on the walls,
Or a wolf howled in the wide night outside,
And feeling our flesh chilled we drew together.

But for a while the dance went on –
That is how it seems to me now:
Slow forms moving calm through
Pools of light like gold net on the floor.
It might have gone on, dream-like, for ever.

But between one year and the next – a new wind blew ?
The rain rotted the walls at last ?
Wolves’ snouts came thrusting at the fallen beams ?

It  is so long ago.
But sometimes I remember the curtained room
And hear the far-off youthful voices singing.

.

Fable is © Doris Lessing, and is reprinted here by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Ltd, London, on behalf of Doris Lessing. Olivia Guest from Jonathan Clowes Ltd


Pictured are two books of published poetry by Nobel Laureate and writer Doris Lessing (1919-2013). I am intrigued by each of the books. I thought to add some information on the status of the books and their current locations, but information is quite scanty. Thus I will be blogging the process.

Fourteen Poems by Doris Lessing , published 1959 by Scorpion Press, is  unavailable, although I have located a copy in a library in a university library in Dublin.

The  Scorpion Press closed in  the 1970s, according to this Wikipedia  entry. Some  articles from the press were obtained by the McFarlin Library, Special Collections at the University of Tulsa. I am adding here the link.

The original link (Lessing’s  Scorpion/ Northwood titles) details the names of the Fourteen Poems which  were published in 1959, 

  •  Under a Low Cold Sky
  • Older Woman to Younger Man (1)
  • Older Woman to Younger Man (2)
  • Plea for the Hated Dead Woman
  • Bars
  • Dark Girl’s Song
  • New Man
  • Night-Talk
  • Song
  • Exiled
  • Oh Cherry Trees you are too white for my heart’
  • Fable
  • In Time of Dryness
  • Jealousy

McFarlin obtained Lessing’s correspondence in relation to the pamphlet: Lessing, Doris Correspondence in reference to Fourteen Poems.

.

Inpopa Anthology

 The list of poems from The Inpopa Anthology 2002 are:

The Wolf People 

  • In the Long Dark
  • The Misfit
  • As If They Had Always Known It
  • Cave Wolves
  • Something Speaks
  • The Sky-fire
  • The Ice Comes
dorisBoth sets of  poems from Ms Lessing’s Opus are listed in her published works, I for one, am incredibly curious to read her poetic writing and have applied for more information to the special collections at the McFarlin Library at Tulsa University.   I will update this post when I get  more information about the poems.
 
I am adding here Lessing’s list  of published works
 
.
Since it is Saturday and the day that I generally highlight the work of a woman writer, editor or translator. I thought to link to a story by Doris Lessing from the New Yorker Magazine, as a special treat:

.
Thanks to Alison Greenlee,  Special Collections Librarian at the University of Tulsa, for information about the Scorpion Press archive.

Poems by Doris Lessing.

the moth

 the moth, arts and literature magazine

The moth, arts and literature magazine is linked at the end of this short introductory. I picked up my copy at the newsagent at Easons in Heuston station. It proved a very popular read on holiday and I barely got my hands on it. I wondered whether I should just link a poem or mention the art, but like all good magazines, it is how the whole is edited, rather than the plucking from it of  tidbits or tasters that makes it work as a publication.

Poems are by Daragh Breen, Paul Keenan, Mairéad Donnellan ,Tishani Doshi , Evan Costigan, Bernard O Donoghue, Helena Nolan, Lorraine Mariner, Peter Fallon and Jessica Traynor.More poems are by Rebecca O Connor, Richard W. Halperin , Andrew Elliot and Niamh Boyce. The magazine is replete with limpid images by Ralph Kiggell, Bill Griffin, Nathalie Lete and Theresa Ruschan. Short fiction, Interviews, and a Shane Connaughton play also form the body of the magazine.

Ember

by Rebecca O Connor.

The sky is the white smoke of a quenched fire,
and his heart is loose, poor George.
Peppa says he must stay in bed for three years,
which is what passes for a weekend here.

My heart too is loose, needs its noose tightened.
And just as I say this the sun seeps wetly through
to remind me that something smoulders,
something still burns.

by Rebecca O Connor


The Moth, cover illustration ‘The Red Shed’, by Vincent Sheridan
the moth