The asparagus fields of Peru are visible from space
Little green rockets
counting down pushing up
tips pierce the moon
spears thrown up to satelleyes
sparrowgrass has landed
Green fingers reaching out
Romero horror film
Night of the single crop
The Victorians sometimes referred to asparagus as sparrowgrass:
“‘It’s a stew of tripe,’ said the landlord smacking his lips, ‘and cow-heel,’ smacking them again, ‘and bacon,’ smacking them once more, ‘and steak,’ smacking them for the fourth time, ‘and peas, cauliflowers, new potatoes, and sparrow-grass, all working up together in one delicious gravy.'”
(Dickens The Old Curiosity Shop Chapter 18)
My brain being what it is, I now picture thousands of guinea pigs lost in the vast fields of asparagus…pretty fat guinea pigs.
Whether there is any other poetry of an eco-poetic slant at Tuesday Poem this week, I know not. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
photo by Muffet (cc licence attribution generic 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)
April 1, 2014
Yes, Tuesday Poem is four years old today, and a what a rambunctious lass she is. Born in New Zealand, she simultaneously exists in Paris, Canberra (and lesser parts of Australia), England and even bits of the United States.
Every Tuesday you can read wonderful poetry at the hub site and the members’ sites. Click this feather and go to New Zealand, for a far more comprehensive explanation of the birth of Tuesday Poem, and a poem (nay, four poems) on a food theme, broadly interpreted.
We all contributed a food related sentence, which have all been stewed together, by clever chef Michelle Elvy (TP Hub sub-editor) along with Mary McCallum and Claire Beynon. It’s all rather like this extract from Dickens:
“‘It’s a stew of tripe,’ said the landlord smacking his lips, ‘and cow-heel,’ smacking them again, ‘and bacon,’ smacking them once more, ‘and steak,’ smacking them for the fourth time, ‘and peas, cauliflowers, new potatoes, and sparrow-grass, all working up together in one delicious gravy.’ Having come to the climax, he smacked his lips a great many times, and taking a long hearty sniff of the fragrance that was hovering about, put on the cover again with the air of one whose toils on earth were over.”
The Old Curiosity Shop Chapter 18
Regular readers of this blog can probably spot the sentence (or part thereof) contributed by this poet. Think quirk. Think juxtaposition. Think ‘yuck!’.
Enjoy your dinner.
February 2, 2009
‘There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. Some men, like bats or owls, have better eyes for the darkness than for the light.’ Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
Who do we compare ourselves with when writing? During the process itself, all comparison should surely be banned. But upon reflection, it’s inevitable that some influences become clear, and that some assessment of ourselves against others takes place. This self-criticism is the only kind that really matters, after all.
It would of course, be hugely unproductive for a novelist to set out to be ‘as good as Dickens’ or a poet to set herself up as the next Milton. Unless one is psychotic, such reckless confidence would be bound to end in failure. But if one just occasionally finds a teaspoon of the richness of invention shown by Boz, or a tinge of his humour, that should be more than enough. (It’s hard to imagine any comparison with Milton bringing comfort. Apart from a mythical creature who is writing several volumes on the history of physics and the creation of the universe in rolling, unstoppable Big Bang rhyme. And if you are that person, the word ‘ambitious’ is probably apposite, dear little Satan of science.)
To look at one’s writing and say ‘it’s not as good as X’ (if X is not a joke) is to look at things through the night-coloured glasses Dickens evokes in the quotation given above. Far better to say does this represent a development of my own voice? Your own voice is inevitably formed by the previous words of others, but this should be a liberation, not a restriction.
At the same time, until you have read and continue to read as much as you possible can of writers good and bad, you will not have the framework for honestly assessing your own work. Creative writing courses that encourage people to ‘write what they know’ without seeking to increase their knowledge of literature are hideous aberrations. To write is to enter the maze of all that has been written before:
Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular
…when most irregular they seem’
You’re never going to get out of that maze. Most will sit and look at single leaves growing on the hedges making up the maze, and try to describe them, rather than reaching the centre where Milton and Dickens (and others) are having an endless Pickwickian picnic. (Milton at a picnic is a terrifying idea, incidentally.) Given they do this carefully and respectfully, with humour, emotion, inventiveness, or with hedge-trimming satire, nothing could be more valuable. If we just blunder along, relying on nothing but luck, the result will probably be less than enlightening.