irrelevant facts

In yesterday’s post, I touched on how the natural world is changing and how, while words I learned as a child are being lost from children’s vocabularies, there will presumably be a need for new words for the invasive species that are making their way to the UK common.

This got me thinking about how so much of what I learned in school has been superseded.
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o me miserum

At school, my favourite subject was Latin. If the Classics teacher hadn’t got pregnant I’d have gone on to study Greek, too, and I suspect my life would have been quite different. Instead, over the years I’ve dabbled in maths, economics, English, Spanish, IT, poetry…

Not having a proper classical education has been one of my few regrets, so when I saw this on a poster at the university campus recently I thought perhaps I was going to have a chance to redress the situation:

Latin night poster
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cats mean credits

two black cats
I’m travelling at the moment, and only intermittently connected to the web, so it’s tricky to find time and opportunity to update the blog, especially as there are all too many other priorities when there actually is a connection.

One of the things I’ve been trying to research during my intemittent interconnectedness in the last few days is postgrad writing courses.

The idea of going back to (semi) formal study is a subject that has cropped up again after a long period when I was sure it was the last thing I wanted to do. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs here, but I will quote from a course handbook I was reading yesterday:

Assessment
A portfolio of 10,000 words (45 CATS), or 8,000 words (36 CATS) 6,000 words (30 CATS) or 5000 words (20 CATS).

I might manage to write 45 poems with cats in them – indeed, perhaps I already have – but I thought poetry was a condensed form. In which case, surely more words isn’t necessarily a Good Thing?

(Additionally, I am reminded of those “binders full of women”, not to mention that even 20 cats are almost certain to be very smelly.)

doggerel

dog on bridge

Looking through my files for a poem with a dog in it to go with this photo, I am slightly surprised just how few there seem to be. There are plenty of cats. And then there are dog ends and dog shit, dog-tooth waistcoats and quite a bit of barking, but very few actual dogs.
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the writing on the wall

Enjoying the luxury of a real paper-and-print newspaper this weekend, I came across an article with the headline: “Mural supports English teachers’ favourite poet”**, and was surprised to see the piece was illustrated with a picture of Carol Ann Duffy. She may be the poet laureate, but I didn’t think she was that popular. Reading on, I think it must specifically refer to the teachers at Leeds West Academy where the mural in question was unveiled this week.
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more school memories

Yesterday I said that one of my school teachers seemed to believe that pleasure taken in the sound and general impression of poetry was more important than the ability to understand and explain the details of each word and image. Forty years later, I am very glad that was her attitude.

poetry books on a shelf

Another memory from that time at school was the context – or, more accurately, lack of context – for the poetry we were studying.
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of kiwis and poetry

(Click here for a picture of male and female kiwi flowers)

kiwi vine shoot

We are gradually trying to replace our old grape vine with a kiwi vine. Our reasoning is mainly that the old vine is not very healthy and produces huge quantities of wasp-attracting fruit that gets mildew and moulders on a grand scale each year.

Since there’s some sixty square metres of trellis, it’s probably not surprising there’s more fruit than we can deal with. Kiwis seem as if they might be rather more controllable.

The photo shows a sucker on one of the kiwis we planted a couple of years ago. The vivid vermilion of these new shoots, and the furriness of the stalks and young leaves, never ceases to amaze me.
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