Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Day 28: Transformation

Today's theme is...transformation. For some reason, transformation always makes me think of...metamorphosis, alchemy. 

Image result for gold light

Especially how love can be alchemy and gild everything gold...

'The Alchemy Between Us' ~ Young Galaxy

 And how it can trigger a metamorphosis, a 'soul shift' like Sylvia Plath talks of here:

Love Letter - Sylvia Plath

Not easy to state the change you made.
If I'm alive now, then I was dead,
Though, like a stone, unbothered by it,
Staying put according to habit.
You didn't just tow me an inch, no-
Nor leave me to set my small bald eye
Skyward again, without hope, of course,
Of apprehending blueness, or stars.

That wasn't it. I slept, say: a snake
Masked among black rocks as a black rock
In the white hiatus of winter-
Like my neighbors, taking no pleasure
In the million perfectly-chisled
Cheeks alighting each moment to melt
My cheeks of basalt. They turned to tears,
Angels weeping over dull natures,
But didn't convince me. Those tears froze.
Each dead head had a visor of ice.

And I slept on like a bent finger.
The first thing I was was sheer air
And the locked drops rising in dew
Limpid as spirits. Many stones lay
Dense and expressionless round about.
I didn't know what to make of it.
I shone, mice-scaled, and unfolded
To pour myself out like a fluid
Among bird feet and the stems of plants.
I wasn't fooled. I knew you at once.

Tree and stone glittered, without shadows.
My finger-length grew lucent as glass.
I started to bud like a March twig:
An arm and a leg, and arm, a leg.
From stone to cloud, so I ascended.
Now I resemble a sort of god
Floating through the air in my soul-shift
Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.

But the thing I associate most with transformation is vision. How poetry, for example transforms vision. To most of us, a something so ordinary and simple as say a stone, is just that, a stone. But to a poet, imagination transforms it into a thing of wonder:

Stone - Ogden Nash

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.  


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Day 11 Tattoo

 Image result for pattern of light on water

Tattoo - Wallace Stevens

The light is like a spider.
It crawls over the water.
It crawls over the edges of the snow.
It crawls under your eyelids
And spreads its webs there-
Its two webs.

The webs of your eyes
Are fastened
To the flesh and bones of you
As to rafters or grass.

There are filaments of your eyes
On the surface of the water
And in the edges of the snow.

And similar to this, I love the tattoo that the shadows of leaves in summer create on the ground: 


Image result for swallow tattoo on wrist

Tattoo ~ a mark of freedom, free spirit design, a stamp/statement of individualism, a moment of fleeting impetuosity forever captured in ink...

A tattoo can be many things, metaphorically speaking. A mark of some kind, one you maybe regret, but have to learn to live with. or a declaration of personal intent, a peekaboo glimpse of personality, a permanent accessory that proclaims who you are.


(for World Suicide Prevention Day)

You didn't ask for it,
this inscribed dark matter.
Its ink runs in you, black,
night after night.

But the world will return soon
with its story of colours.
Shadows only make
for temporary tattoos.

Image result for heart tattoo


Your love has etched itself in my life
like a tattoo
I never wanted;

pierced my heart
in a painful flair
of permanence

I wasn't ready for.
At first it looked
like the trembling shadow 

leaves cast on sunny ground -
arabesque intense truth. 
Now, it's a wizened scribble,

deep dark scar tissue
of how keenly I felt,
how deeply I lost.

When I love, I feel its needle sting.
When I write, I use its ink. 


Tattoo Ideas

I've always wanted a blue butterfly on my wrist
to flick and flicker should life get dull and flat.
The colour of creativity, the spark of a whim
to carry as a totem, blue and deep as a dream.

Or a swallow with outstretched wings -
visual footnote stamp of what it means
to be free, to swoop and glide through days,
an inked charm against being tied down in any way. 

Or in eloquent script, a favourite quote noted, 
a spiral of words to invoke haughty heed,
a spell realised as the letters bleed into skin.
What's on the inside clearly marked from without

(You see why temporary just won't do.)

 Image result for small blue butterfly wrist tattoo

Poems (c) Siobhán Mc Laughlin

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Day 10: Time

Image result for time is now

"Forever is composed of Nows..." ~ Emily Dickinson

Is Time a constraint or a construct? Does it consist of moments or momentum? Is it linear and limited or / An ever-ticking down commodity or an never-ending expansive resource? How Time can stretch into long-lasting or shrink and speed by.

“We live in time - it holds us and molds us - but I never felt I understood it very well. And I'm not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time's malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing - until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.”
― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending


Image result for dali - memory 
'The Persistence of Memory' ~ Dali

My collage tribute to Dali and Shakespeare's sonnet 'Like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore,. So do our minutes hasten to their end..'

"The past beats inside me like a second heart" 
~ John Banville, 'The Sea'

So many fascinating things about Time, not least of all, memory, a sort of repository of Time. 9I read a really fascinating short story recently by Anthony Doerr from his collection 'Memory Wall' about a future world in which memories are commodities, bought and sold on the black market. 

Image result for memory wall - anthony doerr

Also, time travel. The Space-Time continuum (Interstellar anyone?) Oh to go back in Time and fix everything Marty McFly style. 

Image result for time space continuum

Image result for julian barnes quotes on time

The Universal Clock, Clock Museum, Mexico

                                                          Image result for white rabbit in alice in wonderland

"Time in the hand is not control of time..." 
                                                     ~ Adrienne Rich ' Storm Warnings'
 Image result for inside of a clock

horologist. 1 : a person skilled in the practice or theory of horology. 2 : a maker of clocks or watches.
A cool book about time and Horologists:

    Image result for david mitchell the bone clocks 

And perhaps to master Time would be a real masterpiece. Speaking of, Marcel Proust's  A La Recherche du Temps Perdu  or 'In Remembrance of Times Past' is perhaps the finest musing ever written  on the subject of Time. 

Image result for marcel proust quotes on time

Time, A Poem

A souvenir of time: memory. 
A side effect of time: nostalgia. 
Consequence of time: age.
Currency of time: weeks, days, minutes, 
golden moments.



Friday, 9 September 2016

Day 9: Dance

Image result for don't walk dance

 Image result for famous art about dance
 'Dancers in Blue' ~ Edgar Degas

"How can we tell the dancer from the dance?"
 ~ WB Yeats, 'Among School Children' 

 "Couldn't possibly tell you how I feel, but I can dance, dance, dance..."

"Put on your red shoes and dance the blues..."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Day 8: Coffee

Image result for famous poems about coffee

~ T.S. Eliot, 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock'

Oh, there are so many things to say about coffee. But coffee itself is a fragrant poem in its own, a grand event, a work of irresistible delicious art!

For now:

Coffee Love Triptych


My coffee love. A flat white is drinkable art if you ask me.  An instant hit of heart highs. 

Image result for poems written on coffee cups

Monday, 5 September 2016

Day 5: Cats

Image result for hemingway and cats 

"yet here and now many/fine cats/with great style/lounge about/in the alleys of
the universe."

~Charles Bukowski

"I have lived with several Zen masters - all of them cats."  
~ Eckhart Tolle 

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this."
~ Anonymous

Cats. The writer's totem animal?  Clearly cats are much more revered in writing than 'the cat sat on the mat, with a hat, after a rat' mono syllable rhyme would let us know.

Le Chat Noir, the iconic Bohemian club for writers and artists in Montmartre, Paris, at the turn of the 19th century:

 Image result for chat noir original poster

Hemingway with one of his beloved cats:
Image result for hemingway and cats

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

And another cat lover...

cats and you and me - Charles Bukowski
the Egyptians loved the cat
were often entombed with it
instead of with the child
and never with the dog.

and now
good people with
the souls of cats
are very few

yet here and now many
fine cats
with great style
lounge about
in the alleys of
the universe.

our argument tonight
whatever it was
no matter
how unhappy
it made us

remember that
there is a
adjusting to the
space of itself
with a calm
and delightful

in other words
magic persists with
or without us
no matter how
we may try to
destroy it

and I would
destroy the last chance for
that this might always

Image result for charles bukowski fine cats poem

my cats - Charles Bukowski

I know. I know.

they are limited, have different
needs and

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so

they complain but never
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
hesitation or

when I am feeling
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my

I study these

they are my

Not to mention many more writers who were cat lovers!11 Writers Who Really Loved Cats

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Curating Inspiration: September Daily Scrapbook


Well it's been a long time since I've posted here! A combination of reasons: no time, (isn't that always the excuse?!), not lack of inspiration but a kind of overload, where I've never been able to decide on just any one topic to go ahead with and post and hence a kind of crippling uncertainty, that and slow Internet (really frustrating). 

Anyway to remedy all that. A local Arts magazine Art Dogs has come up with a delightful 30-day September art challenge in which I am partaking.   It consists of a theme given every day for a piece of art to be produced and shared - be it poem, scribbling, painting, photograph, or anything creative, so be it. What a great way of breaking the September routine of back to school (ie work) and autumn seasonal slump! I'm all in, as best I can. I have been trying to do something every day (it's hard, but I love a challenge, especially an inspiring one) but I've been feeling the need to post the extra bits somewhere, the preparation parts that the finished product leaves behind the little tidbits that are footnotes to the said theme (anything from songs to quotes to famous offerings) alongside, or sometimes not, my creative piece for the day.

So all of these I've decided to record here, in a kind of keepsake scrapbook of musings. Curating the inspiration, so to speak. 

Alrightey then. 

Interested in joining? Have a look at the site here

(I've just caught up to the challenge in the past few days so I will be subsequently back-dating posts here for the first week. After that, posts are fresh off the press, yippee!)


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Letter To A Young Writer

I want to share here this letter that writer Colum McCann posted lately to The Story Blog, in which he offers his advice to young writers. I'm posting it here because:
1/It offers brilliant, no-nonsense advice.
2/He's one of my contemporary favourte writers.
3/I could do with some writing advice right now - as could no doubt you, fellow aspiring writers tuning in...  Honestly, we can never have too much of it....
4/It is also a lovely nod to Rilke's 'Letters To A Young Poet' which contains some of the most beautiful lines of advice ever written about writing. 

Every sentiment of this is reflective of McCann's own writing style which is bold, unique,  poetic and powerful.  (I had the good fortune of meeting him once, and after asking him a question about his book, he immediately responded off-the-bat 'Are you a writer yourself?' to which I was pleasantly surprised, chuffed even, and still am. Well, if you're going to get recognition from anybody, lovely that it's a writer, one of your favourites and most highly regarded at that. (So thank you for that Colum.)  And by the way, he is such a nice guy in real life, highly intelligent and talkative, modest and courteous and kind.  

Anyway, he would know a lot about advice as he teaches Creative Writing at Hunter College in New York. He is by all accounts, not just a brilliant writer but an inspiring teacher as well. Anyway, words to  remember, to engrave into your writing heart:

'Do the things that do not compute. Be earnest. Be devoted. Be subversive of ease. Read aloud. Risk yourself. Do not be afraid of sentiment even when others call it sentimentality. Be ready to get ripped to pieces: It happens. Permit yourself anger. Fail. Take pause. Accept the rejections. Be vivified by collapse. Try resuscitation. Have wonder. Bear your portion of the world. Find a reader you trust. Trust them back. Be a student, not a teacher, even when you teach. Don’t bullshit yourself. If you believe the good reviews, you must believe the bad. Still, don’t hammer yourself. Do not allow your heart to harden. Face it, the cynics have better one-liners than we do. Take heart: they can never finish their stories. Have trust in the staying power of what is good. Enjoy difficulty. Embrace mystery. Find the universal in the local. Put your faith in language—character will follow and plot, too, will eventually emerge. Push yourself further. Do not tread water. It is possible to survive that way, but impossible to write. Transcend the personal. Prove that you are alive. We get our voice from the voices of others. Read promiscuously. Imitate. Become your own voice. Sing. Write about that which you want to know. Better still, write towards that which you don’t know. The best work comes from outside yourself. Only then will it reach within. Restore what has been devalued by others. Write beyond despair. Make justice from reality. Make vision from the dark. The considered grief is so much better than the unconsidered. Be suspicious of that which gives you too much consolation. Hope and belief and faith will fail you often. So what? Share your rage. Resist. Denounce. Have stamina. Have courage. Have perseverance. The quiet lines matter as much as those which make noise. Trust your blue pen, but don’t forget the red one. Allow your fear. Don’t be didactic. Make an argument for the imagined. Begin with doubt. Be an explorer, not a tourist. Go somewhere nobody else has gone, preferably towards beauty, hard beauty. Fight for repair. Believe in detail. Unique your language. A story begins long before its first word. It ends long after its last. Don’t panic. Trust your reader. Reveal a truth that isn’t yet there. At the same time, entertain. Satisfy the appetite for seriousness and joy. Dilate your nostrils. Fill your lungs with language. A lot can be taken from you—even your life—but not your stories about your life. So this, then, is a word, not without love, to a young writer: Write.'

It's something isn't it? Well it has been a motivating force for me to post here in the past three months. [Apologies for that...]  

I think my absolute favourite line in this letter is: 'Be vivified by collaspe.' Indeed! An audacious concept. Collaspe is not the end, rather a means to reanimation. An aha revelation. The very notion of letting collaspe, exhaustion, failure vivify you is heartedly reassuring. And coming from McCann's voice, I believe it. Also: 'prove that you are alive' - couldn't that be the  core raison d'etre of writing? And, 'read promiscuously', oh yeah. Think I'm guilty of that alright. Finally  - 'Fill your lungs with language'. Inhale deeply: yes, yes, yes :)

And if you enjoyed what you've read here, then I implore you to check out Colum McCann's novels - powerfully affecting, linguistically brilliant. He has that mark of a great writer - the ability to wield language to his own thematic desires, until the technical telling becomes the story, the story itself life not just as we know it, but as it could be known.  Transcending, tremendous. 

~ Siobhán