Welcome to this week’s edition of Poetic Beats with Howard Bond and Davy D, recorded on the 23rd October 2017 on Red Kite Radio.
Continuing with the theme of Autumn, Davy D reads his sonnet Two Fishermen at Ponny. Ponny is the local name given to the fishing water in the village of Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. He also gives a potted history of the sonnet form and reveals a little-known secret about actor Richard Burton.
If you are having difficulty accessing the recording, a text version of the poem is provided after the sound bar.
To hear this programme, please press the arrow on the left of the sound bar below.
Two Fishermen at Ponny
Autumn kissed Ponny with cool puckered lips.
October clouds raced in a darkened sky,
Holding the Red Kite between fingertips,
As fishermen gazed at quivering flies.
Camouflaged beside bowed Bulrush and tree,
Both angler’s stillness, a picture of peace.
Disguised so the Carp are unable to see
The barbs which could bring an end to their lease.
For half an hour they captured my thought,
Engaged in their game of angling chess,
Time out with nature which cannot be bought,
How it would end was anyone’s guess?
I never witnessed a winner this time,
Life pulled me back over the Chiltern Line.
The sonnet has always created my greatest fear in poetic terms. I don’t know whether it’s linked to my aversion to all things Shakespearean; Shakespeare’s sonnets were my first introduction to the form. In a typical teenage tantrum, once I had taken a grave dislike to the Bard and all his words, that was that – until now.
Time and old age have found me softening to Old Will and the sonnet has started to appeal a little. In recent months, this interest has deepened after reading a number of excellent sonnets written by Nigel over at Voices Of A Hidden Self. Nigel has turned the sonnet into an art form and pushed me into overcoming my fears and attempting to write a sonnet. If you get a chance please visit his blog and read and listen to his wonderful poetry.
How then do you write a sonnet? According to Don Patterson in his book, 101 Sonnets, things are not as simple as they first appear. Poets have been writing sonnets for about 750 years and there have been many interpretations of the form, to the point that Don Patterson states, “what constitutes a true sonnet is the fact that no one can agree on anything but the fact it has fourteen lines.”
So, on that helpful note, here goes.
Sonnets force the mind to a life of grime,
Darkness falls whenever those thoughts appear
Of trying to get the buggers to rhyme,
Reduced to swimming against tides of fear.
Old Will, his poetry revolves and taunts
Each stanza eating, into day and dream.
One hundred and fifty-four tease and haunt,
Stripping each layer of one’s self esteem.
The sonnet box sits open and rusty,
Words lie sleeping upon a callous floor.
A Bard, he laughs at the page still empty,
His dark shadow filling poetry’s door.
But I was raised amongst tough mining stock.
The pen will bleed smashing, this sonnet rock.
At the weekend I was out walking when nature gave me one of those gifted moments set-up for poetry. As I walked past the village church the sun illuminated the church clock. It was 6.30 a.m. and the sound of pigeons echoed from the bell tower. A murder of crows hopped around the churchyard. From notes and a number of drafts the following poem emerged.
Pigeons sing from the belfry,
Crows bounce on gravestones.
After a few days of pondering I am struggling to give the poem a title. I have come up with a number of possibilities; Stone the Crows, Church Disco, Birdsong. None of them seem to fit. This brings us to the focus of the blog, does the title of a poem matter?
When you write a poem do you start with a title in mind, or does the title come to light when the poem is either in progress, or written?
It is a mixture for me. Sometimes I think of the title first and write the poem around it. For example, I recently read a collection of articles from a digest where one of the articles was titled, Biography of a Wasp. What a great title for a poem. (This one is an in progress).
On most occasions I start the poem from a prompt, observation or experience and the title can change numerous times whilst writing. I also find that when I pick up a poem for drafting, after putting it aside for a while, the title seems inappropriate and changes.
As a reader of poetry it is sometimes the title of the poem that draws me in, but on most occasions the author of the poem and the poems content and subject area are more important. With certain poems I struggle to connect the title with the content, but isn’t that one of the joys of poetry?
Perhaps I should take a lead from Shakespeare and, like his sonnets, number my poems from 1-154.
What are your views on poem titles? Do you have any suggestions for my untitled poem?
I would welcome your thoughts.