hazy memories

According to Google, today is the 971st anniversary of the birth of Omar Khayyam, Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. It seems slightly strange to me that we would know the exact date of birth of someone born nearly 1000 years ago, and I wonder how eastern and western calendar differences and the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar affect things.

But even if there were good reason to doubt the accuracy of the date, I have no objections to celebrating Khayaam; I may not be able to read the original, but I’ve loved Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat since I first came across it.
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a hazy kind of man

I mentioned yesterday that I’d acquired a new – secondhand – poetry book at the words and music event on Friday night. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled to find it thrust into my hands during the interval just before I was due to read, especially as the accompanying, “You might want to read this,” sounded so like a criticism – as if my upcoming performance was bound to be inadequate as I don’t read enough poetry by other people.

But it’s true that most of my poetry books remain in storage somewhere in central Spain and I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to read them again, so I decided not to take things personally and bought the book.
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of words and wild swans

Open mike nights are a chance to discover the words of other poets, writers and musicians and I usually sit with notebook and pen ready to jot down the ideas and phrases that appeal most, that capture my imagination or that challenge me to think more.

Last night I was a reader at a fund-raising event where the theme was homelessness. One of the phrases I wrote down was from local poet John Turner: “How to compare spring flower to crack den?” It’s a question that challenged me as it relates to why I wimped out of writing new and socially relevant poems for the event, instead reaching into my files, which overflow with spring flowers and poetry of place, to create a set based around the ideas of home, belonging and alienation.
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May Day

Of course it’s not May Day at all: it’s just May Day bank holiday in the UK.

May Day itself should have been last week, but passed unnoticed and uncelebrated.

The hawthorn trees and bushes have been in flower for several weeks, so it’s tempting to think that “may is out” and that it’s time to don summer clothing. But given the almost icy temperatures we’ve had overnight again recently, I think we would be unwise to pack away our winter woollies quite yet.
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dirty habits

When I left the house in Spain, I had to pack up all my books and put them in storage. I don’t know how many there were but, around twenty years earlier, fifteen boxfuls had followed me from the UK to Madrid. I’ve never been one for reading and abandoning a book, so in the intervening period the number may well have doubled. Perhaps one day I’ll be re-united with them.

Since arriving back in the UK, I’ve tried to be reasonable about acquiring more as I simply don’t have the space. But for some reason, I like to own what I have read and my few bookcases are full to capacity.
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snakes and lions

It’s April, but we don’t seem to be enjoying Chaucer’s “shoures soote” – the sweet showers that bring forth spring flowers. Yes, the parks and gardens are bright with blossoms and blooms aplenty, but the weather is as changeable as it has ever been.

I haven’t actually seen snow here this month, but there’s been hail and temperatures below zero, as well as heavy rain, brilliant sunshine, strong winds and days of constant grey sky and mizzle.
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à propos April

In the United States and in Canada, April is National Poetry Month.

Although we don’t actually celebrate the month in the UK, focusing instead on a single Thursday in October for National Poetry Day, the concept of “national” celebrations has become very blurred in recent years. With modern tech and global comms, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the sheer number and volume of voices taking it for granted that what’s true in their region must be true everywhere.

So there is a little bit of my mind that seems to think I should be writing or posting poetry throughout the month.
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