I will be wearing nothing but words: poets bare all

Less than a week until I get to meet some of my very favourite writers/bloggers in real life. In honour of this momentous occasion I could post a little profile of myself or show you pictures of the clothes I will be wearing (I can’t, I haven’t decided what to wear and anyway, all my clothes are in the wash), but instead I wrote a poem as a little tribute to all the wonderful writers that I am getting to know.

 

Trauma

 

We stretch out a hand
and leaves turn
reluctant or relieved
to show the shadow-side
of the statue hewn
polished and displayed
for eyes other than our own.

It is no surprise.

What propels us to
page after page
of verse or prose
rhyme, metre, blank,
with plot or not
but a violent reflex
to puke up our pain?

Inside it lurks and eats
until we waste away
but here held in my hand
it is less than nothing
that thing I shape, control,
fashion into ugly,
beautiful, crafted life.

 

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

 

Hope to see all you Prose for Thought and Paper Swans people on Friday!

If you really need to know, I will probably be wearing shoes.

If you really need to know, I will probably be wearing shoes.

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MAD

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I wonder why you come here and read my blog.

Perhaps you are a bit of a language geek like myself, and you enjoy reading about my bilingual children.

Maybe you know me in real life and use my blog to keep tabs on me (feel free!).

Maybe you like my poetry.

Maybe you come here to share in my ups and downs as a parent, and to feel that wonderful relief that you are not the only one.

Maybe it is a window on a world that is entirely unlike your own but that is strangely compelling.

Or perhaps this is the first time you have come across me and you are now a bit disappointed to find that the first post you read is asking you to nominate me for an award.

Because that is what I am working up to.

Last year I had only just started Secrets of the Sandpit and was reeling from the discovery of a Narnia-like World of Blogging, just a hash tag away from normal every day life. I saw other bloggers put themselves up for this award but could not imagine ever doing this myself. Fast forward a year and I have cast aside all shame: will you, dear reader, consider voting in the MADs and nominating my blog? There are many categories and I don’t fit into many of them. My suggestion is the Writing category, because that is what I am all about.

There is a badge on the right that you can click on, or you can click here to go straight to the voting page.

You can vote for lots of other blogs at the same time to fill all the other categories. I was going to give you suggestions, but almost all of my favourite blogs would be my rivals in the writing category, so I’m just going to leave you to figure it out for yourselves!

Normal service will resume shortly with inside info from the Girl on the Brother in Life Game, some reflections on how the Boy is coping with his two languages now he has started pre-school and hopefully more poetry.

 

 

Write your own poetry

On Tuesday mornings I go to a lovely parenting group in my local area. The aim is to give busy parents a bit of peace and that is exactly what I get from it: we stick the kids in the creche and enjoy a couple of hours of tea and adult conversation. When it first started, we had in depth discussions on parenting issues that troubled us, sometimes even with visiting speakers. Slowly, our program started to lean more towards just chilling out and doing fun things, and this year we have started taking turns sharing our skills with the group. There has been crochet, earring and bracelet making, calligraphy, cake decorating and many more strange and wonderful things.

This week it was my turn, so of course I did a poetry workshop. We wrote shopping lists and turned them into poems, described a friend and wrote rhymes to accompany Christmas presents.

I asked if anyone was willing to share what they wrote with the wider world, and three of the women kindly obliged:

Passion

by Sam

She bursts through the door with her serious face,
her hands moving all over the place.
A little irate she feels this morning
as so far the day has been quite boring.
It doesn’t take long for a smile to appear
She really is funny, it’s just not that clear.

Long Lost Friend

by POG

In the pub car park.
Reading my book.
Ah, now here’s the text,
“Sorry, running late”.
A car speeds in.
A flash of bright scarf.
Haven’t seen for years
But just the same.

My Small Companion

by ACB

Our special time
Protected space
Your cheeky grin

A pile of books
My welcome lap
Quietly sucking fingers

Just one more book
Persistent plea
My boundary pusher

Finish my sentence
Faces, funny voices
My entertainer

Bookworm
Smiler
Fidget
Cuddler
My small companion

My own poem describing a friend is about the lovely woman who runs and supports the Tuesday group. If you are reading this, we all love you and really appreciate everything you give to us.

Selfless Centre

Through the door
we walk, she stands
a cup of tea for you in her hands
Thoughtful, she asks:
“How was the night?
Did your daughter sleep alright?”
She remembers and she cares

We craft we chat
We moan we laugh
And she is there
Listening always
Tactful, fair,
She treasures everything we share.

We say goodbye at the door
and only in the car
– key in the ignition – do I recall
I did not ask about her
at all.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Write your own poetry: Try this at home!

If you want to have a go at writing a poem about a friend, even if you have never written anything before in your life, try this:

1. Think of someone you know. Write down about 8 key words to describe them. Those can be character traits, catch phrases they say all the time, a hobby you share, a place you associate with them.

2. Look at your keywords and try to cull them down to 5. Cross out any words that are too similar to another key word, or that you think don’t really fit with the rest.
My key words for our lovely group leader were:

Welcome
Serve
Support
Kind
Wise

3. Give your five word poem a title. Avoid using the name of the person you are describing. Instead, try and think of a word or phrase that sums them up – or at least the image of them that you are portraying in your poem. I chose “Selfless Centre”, to sum up the idea that came out of the words that our friend is always at the centre of the group, supporting us without asking for anything back.

4. Now use these five words as a draft, a basis for writing something new. Think of a situation you can see your friend in – real or imagined. Describe the situation in a poem, so that it expresses the same image of your friend. In my poem, as you can see, I express the concepts of welcoming, serving, supporting and so on by painting a picture of what she does on a Tuesday morning in a very concrete way. In her poem, Sam managed to literally work most of her original words (eg. irate, serious, funny) into her description of her friend and POG has very simply but effectively sketched herself waiting to meet an old friend.

Have a go! You could even post what you write in the comments below…

Read poetry from other bloggers over at Prose for Thought, hosted by Victoria Welton.

Still dreaming

3o wasn’t a big deal for me. As I said in my birthday post, I generally quite enoy getting older and am still holding out hope that one day I’ll be old enough to be taken seriously. But I have to say that so far I have not worn 33 as comfortably as previous ages. I am starting to rethink my self-image: am I who I think I am? Or am I still operating on assumptions that are no longer valid? Sometimes I feel like I have lost all the opportunities of youth but not yet gained the wisdom that comes with age and am just sitting here, in the middle, staring into space.

This is the chirpy subject of this week’s poem.

Still Dreaming

When I’m not looking and just living
I think I am still young, sometimes,
too young to have two little children,
to own a house or read The Times.

I imagine I’m still standing
on the brink of life, still waiting
for the show to start
the future open, nothing decided
full of potential, thinking
the world is holding its breath
for me
waiting for me
and what I have to say.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

When I look into my rear view mirror
I look old sometimes, and cringe in shame
at my knee high boots and miniskirts
and my dreams of literary fame.

I had my chance and made my choices
ships have sailed and trains been missed
tethered to domestic life now
plans for writing interrupted
by a sudden need to snooze
or by my miniature muse
who says nuff puter, Mummy,
calling me to feed his dreams
to nurture his potential
and ambitions
not my own.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

And in this dream I see you laughing
You say I haven’t understood
You’re only thirty-three, you tell me,
It’s only starting to get good.

You spent all these years in practice
while I built this life for you
Now enjoy it and get writing
it’s what I meant for you to do.

Woman, writer, mother, wife
there really is no greater life
the future will be ever gleaming
just as long as you keep dreaming.

(c) Judith Kingston 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought and I am Me.

Prose for Thought
I am me

Just a Mum

“Oh, I’m just a mum.” This phrase always irritates me. It suggests that mothering is not an activity or a job worthy of mention, deserves no praise or status, and is tantamount to frittering your life away. However, it cannot be denied that using the word ‘Mum’ to describe yourself basically means you are defining yourself purely by your relationship to other people, specifically: your children. It doesn’t say anything about you except that you have procreated.

It felt in some ways like taking a step back, having a second baby. I was just getting used to having a little more freedom: the Toddler mostly slept through the night, he could feed himself from a plate of food placed in front of him, he was getting more independent and happier to spend time away from me. I had started to expand my freelance work a little by doing some work out of the house, and that was fine as my son was happy to play at a friend’s house for the occasional afternoon.

The Baby’s arrival meant I was once again permanently attached to a child. I know it is possible to express milk, but it takes me quite a few goes to express enough for just one feed and with all the sterilising and storing it hardly seems worth the bother when you could just take the baby with you wherever you go. It just means outings are restricted to child-friendly locations or the supermarket, and need to finish in time for naps to avoid a double apocalypse around 5pm. Also, the late night ‘dream feed’ acts as a curfew for dates with the Husband and limits drinking to one modest glass of alcohol which must be consumed before 9pm. My pyjamas have once again become my best friend, and it is a rare night when I am not in bed by 11pm – and out of bed again at 3, 5, and 7am. There is not much left of the evening once the kids are in bed, and not much energy for doing anything more exciting than cooking and eating dinner and lurking on Facebook. This gets tough, psychologically. Most of the time, I feel like Just a Mum.

I used to describe myself as a writer and I still do. I don’t have the time or the brain space to write entire novels right now, but this blog has helped me to keep going – a short post a couple of times a week I can manage. But what am I writing about at the moment? About motherhood. Am I ‘Just a Mum’, even in that?

As a teenager, I formulated why it was that I wanted to be a published author, what it was I wanted to achieve with it. My aim was for people to read my writing, heave a big sigh and say: “That is just exactly the way it is.” I wanted to capture the world in words, to give my readers that thrill of recognition and describe for them how they felt in a way that they perhaps could not express themselves.

Looking at it that way, perhaps being ‘Just a Mum’ in this blog is not a failure but a success. I can still capture a common experience in words and hopefully what I describe will resonate with other Just-a-Mums and Dads. Hopefully, I can make you feel understood, less alone and perk up the odd grey day.

What do you do when you feel you are losing yourself in your kids? What helps you feel like an individual again?