Celebrating Coleridge

I am currently winding down my involvement with the Coleridge Memorial Trust as we near the unveiling of our Samuel Taylor Coleridge statue on the 21st October, 2022 – the 250th anniversary of his birth in the town of Ottery St Mary. The statue is to be placed permanently at St Mary’s Church, Ottery.

So this is a personal, celebratory mood, with a very personal celebration of STC from a little while ago: my word re-arrangements from a Coleridge line set to a musical piece from me

On His Birthday

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I have recently mentioned on this blog my two Coleridge poetry collections: Ottery’s Aeolian Harp which is an eclectic collection of poems about STC and Ottery St Mary (the town of his birth), and a poet animate in anima poetæ which is a collection of found poems taken from his notebooks, collected as Anima Poetæ. I am now announcing my plans for making these available.

I will place these for sale on the 21st October, 2022, the 250th anniversary of Coleridge’s birth. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the MS Society UK.

Each pamphlet will cost £5, to include UK p+p, or they can both be purchsed at £8 to include UK p+p. I will post more details on this nearer the time.

The following are examples of poems from the booklets, the first pair from OAH, and the second pair from a poet… :

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When You Want a Room to Yourself

There is a room to rent in the
awesome opportunity of its offering,
available in the immediacy of an

effortless life where such fantasy
is en-suite. Having moved in and on,
it is now yours – no interactive

fiction game, no escaping, no
self-contained alternatives, no looking
for a share. Good is in a room

when you believe.
There are tips for painting your room you:
remove the dreams of those from before;

tape all trims with blue; prime your
work ethic with hopefulness; now brush or roll
anew according to what you have.

However, one night you sleep on the
blind side, envisage having been alone until
turning over to see – oh dear me:

we are in this story
deep now, in this amazing room
that is south facing to

imagination, the space almost
to yourself, still asking the question and wondering
how blue loneliness looks.

Amuse yourself reading
Handy Guides: A Room to Yourself
found in the attic amongst the

broken toys and trunks
left open and not as empty
as you had assumed.

When your thoughts turn negative
ask yourself if you have enough salt and
white sage to scatter and burn

to prevent the need for black tourmaline.
While out driving and in passing you spot the
Spoil Yourself Someday Room Offer sign,

pause and reflect on what Gertrude Stein might
counter about the accommodation you already have
and how tenderness should overcome pondering.

Morning of the Funeral

At 10, I walked into town
with a sustained sound of
the church’s peel of bells,
a loop of rise and fall in an
indiscernible song – to me
anyway – then returning
home, its remote melody
drifted in and out with my
changing surrounds or
perhaps the shifts of a light
breeze, and hooking into
those touchstones known,
all I could think about was
a curved air of mourning.

The Right Way

We talk the same now
but it wasn’t always like this:

as with turning on the
tap / faucet in opposing ways,

how to ask directions for the
toilet / bathroom, or revving

engines of Peace and Love
under a bonnet / hood.

Judgement was in the ‘right’
way to say English words –

my counting of thirdy, fordy; then
turdle as well. Always oarange,

my languid Nebraskan vocal
dulled consonants and stretched

vowels a mouth could not
get around with ease.

But talking the same now is the
‘Right’ way, a politics of

speaking that replaces nuances
of sound for vitriol. The Fascists –

there is only one way to speak this
designation – coalesce in shouts of

the self over care for others. Accent
is no longer a divide, but rich / poor

and truth / lie reside respectively as
a chasm or are indistinguishable:

the two ‘great democracies’
I have straddled for a lifetime

sound the same, but are
no longer what they were.

Power

(On the day one idiot narcissist leaves its power base to be replaced by another, the following cut-up continues to be apt):

Power is power,

but we are different
when we do not want it
for that.

It takes all our courage
to question this.

We are
unwillingly
the answer to our question

asking of it,
what motive?

Why the method
of one’s own motives
for power?

We are not in this power
relinquishing for our own sake
for others;

interested in the good of others.

There are other means
to an end where
this is this:

the good of others
is
the good of others;

being equal
is
being equal.

(cut-up: 1984 – George Orwell)

‘(un)interrupted tongues’ by Dal Kular – Fly on the Wall Press

The journey a reader takes in getting to know Dal Kular gains impetus when reading through this collection’s self-revelations, its ruses (presentational/tonal), the personal artefacts as representation of historical and cultural points, and through this, a palpable sense of her own journey that is aided by this therapeutic writing process.

After an opening poem  time(less) li(n)e – itself playfully provocative – the first untitled poem begins,

‘this works in a

MEsS.

My m-

ess.’

and we will increasingly discover the meaning/meaningfulness of such a recurring typography that presents the surface examples of being seen/judged as a person. In a collection exploring identity, this presents a familiar – if ultimately superficial – aspect of that external framing which nevertheless impacts on the internal thoughts and feelings of the individual.

The poem white pages | 1974 has a beginning which quickly demonstrates the pertinence of form/presentation in shaping an expression of personal meaning,

‘i was creative before i
was brown| i created myself
female before i was born| that
was my first act of creation| my soul
in shades of everything| when
i was six i wrote about snow-
white-men in royal blue
ink across off-’

[on the printed page this is a box/square: important as that presentation],

and as the poem progresses to include the first of two quotes by Audre Lorde in the whole collection,

“…the decision to define ourselves,
name ourselves,
and speak for ourselves,
instead of being
defined and spoken for by
others”

[right justified on the printed page]

we are being introduced to the external and internal forces that act on who we are/become, the poetry itself interrupted at times by lines that halt/pause/prevent/corrupt expression – or so it seems.

The next two poems Haunting | ancestor speaks me | Punjabi 185? and uprise | ancestor speaks me | Sheffield 2019 explore historical and cultural shifts/impacts on Kular’s life as a child and growing up into adulthood. The second poem ends with

‘see fire in my eyes
scars on my tongue
i am alive|
made of places
wilded by
others
others-wised by
wild|’

and the hurt as well as learning of the self is beautifully defiant.

As a teacher I was interested in the presenting of a school report from 1978 and Nether Green Middle School for Dalbinder Kular. Actual or faux, it is a ‘good’ report, full of positives and quite detailed with these – these tropes – and for all of this, they are formulaic (perhaps taken from comment banks) or indeed are real – but one senses they describe a surface, possibly one that was achieved and helped to preserve the survival of being young, uncertain and needing to tick the boxes; to fit in.

This would seem to be the case in the next poem (Bruised | 1984 Sheffield. Ghost of We which begins with this candour,

‘The Ghost of I looks down into the school yard – all the white
kids are walking west. Defying physics. One Brown Girl walks
East. Trailing her scream behind her tangled into broken
peacock feathers. When the school yard is empty she sucks up
the space and spreads her feathers and lets the scream escape
into smog.’

It is emerging how there is both clarity and the poetic in the trajectory of a life plotted here for the reader to engage with and in.

There are playful episodes of the journey in Pure Chana Dal, and another school/tutor report from 1983 is brisk but essentially critical – less cliched than the previous yet a different kind of distance is demonstrated.

In between these two are defiant lines from Orkney | 2019 (as we move from past to present),

‘Race is the least interesting lie of me. It
visibilises me and invisibilises me in equal
measure. I prefers being invisible on her own
terms. Like the way the North Sea sculpts
the space between the old man and
mainland, splitting sunsets in two.’

and as readers it provides joy to hear but also context for the shifts across time. It also reminds us of the complex personality/identity bifurcations Kular experienced as we dip in and out of the recorded trauma – as for example in the poem beginning with these lines,

‘I had a dream once, a horrific
interruption that still shocks me.
I lived in a tiny terraced
house in Nottingham, on
ancient battle-land, bloodied
bodies strata-fied beneath her,
genetic rememberings of a long
ago capital. A hooded shadow
burst into her bedroom with
hurricane intensity, in the
darkest darkness, an atrocious
force ripping the covers from her
bed and sucking every part of her
soul from me. It woke I. Or was
I already awake?’

I’ll finish on one more example of this trauma in the poet’s journey/healing as it further demonstrates how the candour and the poetic framing of this (specifically here: the nomenclature/playing/re-presenting) work together as documentary and catharsis,

‘depressioning
suicidaling
disassociationing
anxieting
scatterationing
regretfulling
fear-fulling
racializing
the dead-end day jobbing
‘The Professional Careering’
stresssssing
presssssurising
shagginging
the manyfathomed depthness of knowing the path that I didn’t
following
un-believing-in-myselfnessing
confidencelessnessing
unremitting escape pathings – here!’

To get more information and buy, go here.