"If this were my wish to grant youI would plant another hurricane on these islesTo watch you danceAway that mild-temperedness from your spirit..."
from 'Dear Mum'
So last week today was Mothers' Day.
Recently, I've been writing quite a bit of poetry which has gone to places I never thought it would. When I write prose, I have the support of my workshop buddies, The Unwriteables, and we're so named because when the first members got together, they decided to write "bravely", touching topics outside of their comfort zone, and experimenting with style and form. The testing ground for most of my poetry, on the other hand, is when I first bring it to the stage. And it's difficult to experiment with new poetry when you know what kind of audience will be at a particular poetry venue, and you start to guess what they want to hear, either writing accordingly, or leaving out anything you're not sure about for a set, and sticking to "greatest hits" (examples of my own can be found on my other blog).
So, thinking about the Unwriteables ethos, I wrote a poem to/about my mum. It was her birthday the week before and I hadn't bought her a birthday present because I had no idea, after all these years, what to get. And, thinking about all the things you would never say to family, I came up with a poem that was quite uncomfortable but cathartic.
I couldn't resist reading it out at the Farrago Spring Slam! during my set, and halfway through, I regretted it. How personal! And how raw! It's certainly something I wouldn't show to my mum, even though it was addressed to her - so why did I go there?
It's difficult to write poetry that's honest and perhaps a little offensive when you want to be liked, and when you want to keep your personal stuff, well, personal. It's probably the last time that poem will ever be heard - at least in its current form - but, thinking back on it with the perspective of two weeks, I'm glad I did read it out. As much as hearing poets rant about their feelings can be a bit tedious and painful, it can also be liberating. And it's more honest than preaching about politics or war or whatever else we bring up to the mic. I might work on the poem and make it punchier, or abandon it altogether, but it's all part of the process, as they say...
A (very) belated Happy Mother's Day!