Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday salon 10.59am

There is a ribbon too (in Kay McKenzie Cooke's book MADE FOR WEATHER)! Oh I do like books with a ribbon, no need for a book mark... and so appropriate for a book of poetry which I always tend to dip into and out because I think of poems as highly piquant bites - too rich perhaps to be swallowed too many at a time. And Kay's poetry are exquisitely delicious indeed, and I'm not just saying that because I happen to have 'met' her through the blogosphere.

So far I have got to page 30. I took them back to bed with me because Hodmandod Senior was still there and I had made us both some tea. Now Hodmandod Senior likes poetry. In fact I think he is a better critic than me. One of his favourites is Les Murray and he also likes Philip Larkin, but he never tries writing any himself and sometimes I wonder what he'd write if he did. So I read some of Kay's poetry out to him and he agreed with me that it was very fine indeed, and in fact liked it so much he picked it up when I stopped to drink my tea and got so engrossed I had trouble yanking it back off him.

Every poem has some rather wonderful imagery: roads are like taut ropes, blossoms soft as empty gloves, brooms have all their bristles leaning towards the ocean, all wonderfully economic and symbolic.

Each poem has much to commend it but so far the ones I like best are about Kay's father. He was a farmer and a poem called 'rough craft' describes his ploughing his field, and, as the poem progresses, it is as if the poem is following the plough and uncovering more and more. The symbols sharpen and become deeper, revealing much and ending at last with the memorable, startling and entirely apt image of 'the earth's slit throat' .

Another favourite is 'evidence' - which is again about Kay's father and his reaction to his mother's death. It has the understatement and restraint of one of Ishiguro's novels and ends with her father in the fields again, the day after the funeral, 'whistling through his teeth.'

Slowly a picture appears. It is affectionate but unsentimental. The honesty shines through. There is no anger or resentment, just a touch of sadness. It is oddly life-affirming and inspiring.


Blogger jem said...

This Sunday Salon business sounds great. I make sure all Sundays have a good chunk of time set aside for reading. I'm looking forward to climbing between the pages this afternoon.

At times I try to read poetry like old fashioned prayer. A period of time just before bed. To take in the words and then drift off to sleep with them in mind.

Thanks for sharing your reading habits.

Sun Nov 18, 12:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful, Clare.
I agree with you also about ribbons: however many bookmarks I have (and I have a great number), I can never find one when I start a new book. And now that my short-term memory is so poor, I can't do what I did when younger, which was simply to remember what page I was on. Some people would turn down the page corners but I can't bring myself to do that.

Sun Nov 18, 01:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jem, thanks for stopping by - if you would like to join Sunday Salon you would be very welcome. I shall leave a link on your blog.

Maxine- yes, I hate turning over page corners too. I can't bring myself to make notes on the pages very often either - though I do sometimes if I'm desperate, but only lightly in pencil. I've seen some books that are so annotated that they look like little works of arts and somehow I am hugely impressed - but I can't do that myself.

Sun Nov 18, 01:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bed was the only decent place to be this morning or did morning every really arrive? I haven't encountered Kay McKenzie but will look out for her.

Sun Nov 18, 03:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, Ann - afternoon not much better up here, either!

Sun Nov 18, 06:07:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Thanks (again!) Clare for the heartwarming review of my book. I am all shivery with joy! I am so glad you liked it - and Hodmanod Senior too, what's more. Wow. I am overwhelmed. My book in your house! :)

Mon Nov 19, 10:23:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I poked around at the publisher but saw no samples. Bet Chief Biscuit would let you print one or two...

I like the family linkages with jacket and liner: charming and playful images.

Tue Nov 20, 03:02:00 am  
Blogger Holly said...

Well, I am curious about Hodmandod? Who is Hodmandod? What does that word mean??

Thu Mar 27, 03:20:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the top of my blog, Holly, at the title - easy to miss, I know - and many people do. Basically my married name Dudman is thought to derive from Hodmandod which is an old English word for snail. Dudmans may have been the keeper of the snails - which I thought would be a good name for my blog - since my family do not tend to move very quickly if they can avoid it.

Thu Mar 27, 10:02:00 am  

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