February started on a Wednesday this year, meaning that the second Tuesday was the 14th and the Madrid Stanza meeting was scheduled for Valentine’s Day.
When I realised the date, it occurred to me that perhaps some of the members would have better things to do than sit around discussing poetry. Then again, perhaps poets are most inspired when crossed in love, so it should have come as no surprise that there was the biggest turn out yet for the group.
We managed to critique some original pieces, share some old favourites, discuss some published works, argue about line breaks, content and style, and somehow managed to still be on-topic five hours after starting.
Given the date, some of us had said we’d probably bring some love poetry along and I wasn’t surprised to find that most of those pieces were about break ups and unrequited love.
Some years ago, one of my middle-aged-falling-in-love-again pieces was a runner-up in a competition and the judge described it as “a gloriously positive poem [that] glows with happiness.” In general, my poems tend to take an optimistic view of life. That particular piece was the hinge poem in my collection, Hope Street (in search of a publisher – perhaps if I remind myself here in public, I’ll make that search more active again). This is the preface poem:
On Breaking Up
“Las manos son torpes en la ruptura” – M.K.
I used to know
the where and how;
my tongue trips
on familiar phrases;
sweet words cloy
a bitter aftertaste.
The collection has a narrative thread running through it and although the ‘story’ doesn’t have a clear happy ending, it closes on a note of optimism and potential.
Hope Street has been read and criticised by a number of friends from the poetry world, most of whom have reacted positively. Only one of the readers has suggested I re-sequence the poems to make it darker. I do wonder if it would be easier to get it published if it were all doom and gloom, but frankly, I think there’s enough of that in the newspapers.
For those who are wondering, the graph used as illustration can be produced by doing a Google search on ((sqrt(cos(x))*cos(400*x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.4)*(4-x*x)^0.1)