Poem for the year’s end

Soon off to celebrate the approaching new year. So here’s my last post of 2013, in the form of a just-written poem. Here’s to a good new writing year in 2014!

*

Year’s-end, year’s-beginning

What words
to wrap the year in?
How to sing in
the new? Should I end
and begin with ringing
bells in the cathedral-
vault of my days,
or perform the simplest
of fire-magics: light
a candle-flame?

I’ve cast myself
adrift. The new year
is an ocean, and I
am a skiff—
so perhaps, after all,
I’ll end and begin
the old year and the new
with a charm
against
storm-winds, rough weather.

*

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Poetry sale: Two poems in Chantarelle’s Notebook

My poems ‘Ninety-Eight’ and ‘City of Stones’ will be appearing in Issue #33 of Chantarelle’s Notebook – yay!

‘Ninety-Eight’ is a companion piece of sorts to ‘Microhistory’. It’s about family history too, specifically my late grandfather (on my dad’s side).

‘City of Stones’ is one of several poems inspired by my walks in my local graveyard (which also happens to be one of Helsinki’s most historically notable graveyards). I’m more hippy than gothy, but nonetheless I find graveyards to be intriguing and inspiring places. I love wandering around looking at the oldest gravestones, struck by the personal histories still shining through in names, dates and epitaphs.

Poetry publication: Two poems in Snakeskin

Two of my poems are now online in the December issue of Snakeskin:

‘Microhistory’ and ‘Rain-washed’.

Both of these were written last summer. ‘Rain-washed’ happened after a glorious thunderstorm. I always have to rush out to get drenched at least once a summer – there’s something wonderful about getting completely wet when the air is warm, and it doesn’t happen in Finland all that often.

I’m particularly pleased that ‘Microhistory’ has found an online home. I wrote it in August after a family gathering in Southern Ostrobothnia, where my dad’s side comes from. My grandpa would have been 100 years old this year, so we celebrated his birthday with reminiscences, laughter and excellent food. All of it got me thinking about family and my place in it, and ‘Microhistory’ was one of the results (another poem came out of that celebration, and I’m hoping to find a home for it as well).

Sunday recs: Poetry for a frosty evening

I’m drinking rooibos tea, all cosied up in a self-knitted shawl and wrist warmers. Mmm, knitted things.

I discovered some poem links I’ve been meaning to share for ages, so here’s a few brilliant poems to brighten your Sunday evening:

Foam, Braided with Teeth by Michele Bannister over at Stone Telling. I love Bannister’s poems and recognise a certain kinship in the way we use language – her Anglo-Saxonesque hyphenated compound words ring very familiar to me. I love this poem. Read aloud, it sings.

The next poems are apparently all from Strange Horizons. Not too surprising, I suppose, since it’s one of the magazines I read most regularly. (I have so much catching up to do with all the gorgeous zines, though!)

Three Visions Seen from Upside-Down by Alexandra Seidel. This is a strange one, but a good kind of strange. Like a lot of Seidel’s poetry, it has a creepy fairy tale vibe: awesome.

the houses of girl-ghosts by Cassandra de Alba. So gorgeous – what a word-painting!

The Loss” by Mari Ness. Short, piercing, beautiful: wing-loss and longing.

Nanowrimo: Failure

What a discouraging title!

But it’s true.

I set out with the goal of starting the second draft of Dim Vanities. Then, as November started shitting on me, I thought I’d at least get the 33 chapters read through and commented on.

Well. That totally didn’t happen. I’ll admit it: there were more days in November when I didn’t work on DV than when I actually went through any chapters.

I have read through and commented on chapters 1-14. Not even halfway through.

I stopped visiting the Nanowrimo site because I got sad that I wasn’t working on a new novel and getting words done. (Let’s face it, “word count: 0” just looks bad.) But on the other hand, I was profoundly glad that I’d decided not to do Nano properly. Because hey, if I couldn’t even get my novel read through and preliminary comments written, I was definitely not in the right place to write 50,000 words.

Sure, if I’d just pushed myself, I could have done more. But this time, I had a more stressful November than ever before. I’ve slept too little, worked too much, cried too much, worried about the future too much. So I think it’s good that I didn’t push myself with writing. There’s a time and place for prioritising writing, and this time it wasn’t November. (I did get a few poems written, though, but that’s different.) If I’d pushed myself, I might have collapsed. And quite frankly, there’s no time for a collapse before my Christmas holiday.

Sometimes you just can’t get stuff done. This is a very difficult thing for me to admit, because my perfectionist tendencies still often equate “didn’t get stuff done” with “bad person”, even though I’ve been trying to work through this and eradicate such thoughts.

Lesson learned? It’s possible for me to fail and yet not be devastated by it. Next year, perhaps, I can do Nanowrimo “properly” again and start afresh, not weighed down by the expectations of five years’ winning in a row.

I will continue editing DV: slowly, with other projects in between. I’m feeling insecure about this novel, too, so I think I need to be careful with it. At some point I might need to smash the whole thing and rewrite it entirely, but I’m not ready for that yet. So, for now, I’ll just keep plodding on.