Monday, 2 August 2021

Sealey Challenge: Day 1

Summer is almost over here in Finland, after months of high temps and no rain, thunderstorms hit last night and it's been raining all day. Schools start back in a week, so we're on the wind-down. 

I'm torn about going back, I will miss the lazy days, but I would really like to talk to adults again. My stress insomnia has already started up, but hopefully that will pass once I go back for our orientation. 

I've decided to try the Sealey Challenge this month, to read a poetry collection a day for the month of August. I have to admit I'm not good at keeping up with my poetry reading. I buy collections and dip into them, but often struggle to sit down and read the whole book at once. 

I'm not sure if I'll get through a whole collection in one day and will sometimes feel I'm not doing justice to the poet. I read fiction quickly, too quickly to appreciate play of language and technique unless I force myself to really slow down like I'm doing with my current reread of Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon which is a beautifully poetic novel and needs a slow read. 

I will treat this challenge as the introduction to the poems I'm reading, a first splash about and then I can spend some time fully exploring my favourites later.

So Day 1: The Stone Age by Jen Hadfield. The book takes me further into all the things I love about Jen's work, the play of language, delving deep into imagery, an intense awareness of place and culture. I had been slowly digesting these poems since I bought it, but I'm glad I've dived into the whole book as it builds a world around the poems using the particular typeset and poem placement.

Jen says the poems look at neurodiversity. I love that she challenges my idea of how a poem works, untethering punctuation, unexpected line breaks though I feel I'm moving blindly not sure how to take a line that begins with a comma or the large, faint poems that seem to fade off the page. I am trying to give up some of my preconceived notions of poetry, but I want to find some recordings of her reading some of the poems, so I can feel and hear how she wades through them.

Jen is a friend and inspiration. I've been looking forward to seeing where her next book would take her. A beautifully sculpted collection.

My poem 'Hiraeth' has been published in the new issue of The Ogham Stone. Copies can be ordered here. It's one of those magazine I've been trying to get into for a while and a poem I've been hoping to find a home for probably even longer, so them coming together is a blessed event. The magazine is a weighty, professional read with fiction, poetry and reviews and I'm honoured to be included with so many excellent writers. 

Marble Poetry has also published one of my poems in Issue 9. Smaller, but equally beautifully produced the issue has work by some familiar names like Anna Saunders and Matthew Duggan and a few new ones I'm going to discover. Check it out.

Both magazines were nice enough to send me hard copies in Finland which I really appreciate. I know not all print magazines can afford that these days, so I'm very grateful. 


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