The Shared Dawn

‘After the ending of this inspiration…’ -T S Eliot

After the shouting and cussing,

After the blunt demands and defiant refusales,

And after the handwriting deciphering of missing poems and threats to ruin the peaceful garden,

I spoke to my neighbour on the phone, through the wall,

Of the day,

Of the guide-dogged unguided thuggery of the man who throws his weight to get his wat.

This is a Supported Housing complex of unsupported complexities and those that revel in mistrust. 

We talked until the operater cut me off at 6.30 a.m of a September morning cold enough for snow. 

‘Hello Fox!’ Echoed off the grass below my sock footed balcony. 

In one breath his orange fur extinguished into black ivy by the wall. 

My fox has escape routes I wish I knew. 

Already the traffic gushed along the park,

There was no violet air only indigo, the etchings of familiar tree branches,

The first declaration of morning exchange between my whisper and a crow. 
Downstairs balcony, one flat along, a cherry thick smell of shisha smoke told me I shared this dawn.

Nests sang with dry hello’s, the sound child make with imaginary guns. 
A boy on the top deck of a bus stuck in rain had pointed his closed umbrella, spied a pedestrian and took aim. 

Over machine gun birdsong and blackbird aria I laughed at a stag’s disgruntled moan. 
After my sight was given to clouds of fresh bruises, sagging dirty denim blues. 

I tilted my head up and was greeted by diamond points of rain. 

This was my ‘Sunday outing’ without ever been to bed. And the world did not seem futile, 

Only witnessed and sublime. 
This poem was inspired after reading missing and ommitted sections of The Waste Land by T S Eliot. The fascimile and transcript of the original manuscript,  as well as the missing poems, editted by Valery Eliot is available from Amazon here  The Waste Land : A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

Advertisements

Chasing Vivienne, A girl from the stix goes to Oxford, Boo Radley and Benches

Well that was a long title but I have multiple literature and academic news. I finished To Kill a Mockingbird in a pitch black garden on a damp bench. Foxes circled in the dark. As the story reached its climax with Scout and Jem being followed as they crossed the school yard alone, I too became spooked by paws padding the grass and rustlings in the oak tree above me. The neighbours were shouting in there phones again of bed bugs and daily itineraries. Not even the garden gives peace from bland, thought draining noises of the tenants around me.
The day before I sat on that bench in pouring rain and heard childrens squeals, a wet goose flying away. I read The Waste Land aloud to drown neighbour’s out. Tom said not even the mountains had silence or solitude (lines I shouted above the music of a mad neighbour. She shoves me into washing machines although she is not fully blind it is her excuse and once, I am told, threw her microwave out of the window in a rage. And I suspect it is her leaving shards of glass on my patch of soil I tiol to grow tea plants).
In the dark I read out loud too and was so overcome with wanting to be away from this, back in the stix, the words could only splutter down my fur coat describing Scout Finch dressed as a ham.

‘I read much of the night and go South in the Winter….’

So farewell to the Finches. It has dissapointed me a little that Go Set a Watchman is written in the third person so that it is now a narrative not the reality Mockingbird created. My only hope is there is moreof Boo Radley; if there were ever a character I wished I could make smile….

But from the stix of both fiction and my own life, I turn back to university. Tomorrow I visit the Bodleian Library at Oxford on the hunt of threads of poetry by Vivienne Eliot. The first wife of T S Eliot has been resigned to the wayside of the mad muse. And maybe my soft spot for Nadja led to a curiosity in the vivacious flapper that died in an asylum.

I was meant to be researching the theories of decadence in The Waste Land for my dissertation but while reading Eliot’s letters was intrigued by a letter from Vivienne to Virginia Woolf asking to visit while she was alone and ill. I started thinking how both were literary wives, writers themselves, both suffered with mental health problems and were left alone to recover. Unfortunately Virginia’s reply is not published. Considering she described Vivienne as a bag full of feerets around Tom’s neck I would be amused to read a response if any.

There was a worry that my dissertation was becoming a version of Jeremy Kyle goes to Bloomsbury. But I got wind that Vivienne wrote poetry. I begun to wonder if The Waste Land was actually more of a carcophony of personal anguishes than the reflection on post war London I initially read.

The more I read on Vivienne, mostly from Painted Shadow by Carol Seymour Jones, triggered fragments of the poem in my mind. It seemed to easily linked though. Too obviously implied.

Why is this poem from the 1920’s that can not be deciphered striking such a chord in me that also can’t be described in my lack of vocabulary? And what is the importance of Vivienne? I cringe at any sugguestions of muses. I actually regard her more of an anti-muse.She was suppressed, shut away, deemed as mad and yet revealing her this century as important is only highlighting the same points.

And yet she did write while married to Tom. I still feel she is in the Waste Land as much as Jean Verdenal, Eliots dearest relationship, ended by war. I still think she was a link to the writers of that era we forget or don’t bother with.

I don’t know….

Maybe her poetry was as god-awful as my essays but why ‘ suppress all that is suppressable even if that was a living being?

I hope visiting the Bod tomorrow (most likely on two hours sleep) will give me some answers on Vivienne the writer not the mad wife.

What I’m reading: To Kill a Mockingbird

The best books are those the make your reality vanish. In some ways even the words on the page vanish as you are emmersed in the world ofthe story 
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of those books. The first time I read it I never got to finish it because, well, the beginning was so good. Being narrated by the daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch, Scout recaptured my childhood. It is a book so well known, so prided and I seemed to be the last person to have read it. My own childhood in a small village, playing outdoors with my brother as Scout does with Jem, came flooding back to me. I can’t analyse, like the literature I’m meant to be, how the magic is created with this book. But the long dusty evenings of Scout, Jem and their sweet friend Dill’s were so familiar that while reading I feel the essence of being a child again. Like the Alabama setting of Maycomb, our village had its eccentrics and ‘folk’ stuck in their ways. 

I have only read to the end of the court case and the verdict so far so please don’t give any spoilers. It has just struck me that for a book centered around racial tolerence it is the theme of the home and childhood that makes this book so real to me. It conveys those summer hours after school felt like days to be filled. I want to know what happens these people, these dear and believable characters. Most of my reading time this week has been for uni and I just want to put it all aside and know how it ends so that I can start the long awaited Go Set a Watchman that I promised I would read over the summer and haven’t had enough time to before uni has swung around again.  And of course I am hoping my mental itch is scratched; does Boo Radley make an appearance?

Like me, do you love this book too? Let me know- without giving away the plot- what you think of this book in the comments below. 

‘A Trailblazer for Women in Fiction’

It is with sad news, and indeed some shock, to hear that Jackie Collins has died, aged 77, from breast cancer. 

Bringing us the glamourous and racy side of Hollywood through her writing earned her a place on the best-seller lists for all her novels. BBC news has released this short interview clip in which she mentions following her dream to be a writer (second clip). 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-34305950
Recently Jackie disclosed her battle with cancer in an interview, with People magazine, in the hope it would help others battling with the disease while promoting her new book The Santangelos (Lucky Santangelo 9).

The statement issued by her family said;

“She was a true inspiration, a trailblazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words,” (BBC.com/news)

What Are Your London Hidden Gems?

i have been dipping in and out of this blog for a while now on my wanderings through London and realised I have never asked what are others favourite places. 
So where are the places and things that make this city special to you? For me it will always be the little things amongst the big like wasting time chatting on the steps of Seven Dails, black cabs circling my feet or the smell of nag champa and oranges in Camden market. 

Please let me know where you have enjoyed being in London and some of them I will try and visit and blog my own experiences of. Maybe you used to visit here and want to know what a particular area is now like or,  you have a place or oddity others should read about. Write a comment below and lets share what makes the capital unique. 

A Change of Perspective

one of the things I love about how tangled London’s streets and building are is that you can walk past something for years and never know it is there. 
I once read an excellent book about tribes of people the lived on the cities rooftops unseen,  Roofworld by Christopher Fowler. Ever since I have always looked in London every chance I can. 
Thousands of times I must have walked along Charing Cross Road below the arches in the photo below. The other day I took a turning down a quiter side road, looped around the MouseTrap theatre and turned to face this great gothic hulk that had stood above. It faced me as I had never seen it. 
  

Return to the Rookery Patch

London Blog-Rookery

Return to the Rookery

There is delight in empty city routes on crowded Saturdays. The key to discovering hidden London in your own perspective is to simply pick one of the busiest landmarks. Take Oxford Street of Trafalgar Square and then just turn around, turn your back on it and walk down the nearest and narrowest street.

I hadn’t gone out to be lost for so long.

Parallel to Great Portland Street old mansion apartments and iron railings fulfilled my old-worldly fascinations. And there were no people, no people, only my footsteps not needing my old white stick searching for cracks in the pavement and people out of eye shot. The dear old BT Tower and New Cavendish Street reminded me another semester is soon to start. My brain must commit itself to intricacies of the Eliot’s and more god damn philosophy. But until then there was no need to squint from thinking, only walk, walk and observe and be lost.

Goodge Street blinded me in late sun and the ever growing crowd required the unfolding of a cane. It is a cane that kept my failing sight safe for a decade and has since been lost, left behind in extreme tiredness and I feel I have lost a friend in that stick that let me walk where I could not fully see. I hate the thought of it somewhere in this city without the rest of me. I have a new one but it just feel like a stick and nothing more, nothing valuable.

The Phoenix Garden was a secret now found by many others. People filled its winding brick paths and nooks of benches. I sat down, back where the Rookeries once stank and thrived, and spoke to my mum on the phone, ate shop made sandwiches. It is an area with only the church remaining of it’s past yet never fails to make me wonder what it used to be. I long to brink and open my eyes to old London squalor, wooden lean to’s, crime and prostitution dressed in bustles. The ghosts of Rookeries past.

Thomas Beames wrote his own account of this demolished, vanished world of the London poor and I think his descriptions will always walk me back to St Giles even if nothing of it can be traced.

For a historical account of London’s Rookery Slums from investigative visits I highly recommend The Rookeries of London (Dodo Press)
‘by Thomas Beames. I found a coverless, hardback edition in the uni library and it is fascinating, describing London’s Victorian slums from his own discoveries.