Tag Archives: patrick chapman

Happy National Poetry Day


I couldn’t possibly pick just one, so here are a few to salivate over. There’s something for everyone.

The Mower

by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

 

This be the Verse

by Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

 

Suspenders

by Raymond Carver

Mom said I didn’t have a belt that fit and
I was going to have to wear suspenders to school
next day. Nobody wore suspenders to second grade,
or any other grade for that matter. She said,
You’ll wear them or else I’ll use them on you. I don’t want any more trouble. My dad said something then. He
was in the bed that took up most of the room in the cabin
where we lived. He asked if we could be quiet and settle this
in the morning. Didn’t he have to go in early to work in
the morning? He asked if I’d bring him
a glass of water. It’s all that whiskey he drank, Mom said. He’s
dehydrated.

I went to the sink and, I don’t know why, brought him
a glass of soapy dishwater. He drank it and said, That sure
tasted funny, son. Where’d this water come from?
Out of the sink, I said.
I thought you loved your dad, Mom said.
I do, I do, I said, and went over to the sink and dipped a glass
into the soapy water and drank off two glasses just
to show them. I love Dad, I said.
Still, I thought I was going to be sick then and there. Mom said,
I’d be ashamed of myself if I was you. I can’t believe you’d
do your dad that way. And, by God, you’re going to wear those
suspenders tomorrow, or else. I’ll snatch you bald-headed if you
give me any trouble in the morning. I don’t want to wear
suspenders,
I said. You’re going to wear suspenders, she said. And with that
she took the suspenders and began to whip me around the bare legs
while I danced in the room and cried. My dad
yelled at us to stop, for God’s sake, stop. His head was killing him,
and he was sick at his stomach from soapy dishwater
besides. That’s thanks to this one, Mom said. It was then somebody
began to pound on the wall of the cabin next to ours. At first it
sounded like it was a fist–boom-boom-boom–and then
whoever it was switched to a mop or a broom
handle.  For Christ’s sake, go to bed over there! somebody yelled.
Knock it off! And we did. We turned out the lights and
got into our beds and became quiet. The quiet that comes to a house
where nobody can sleep.

 

Gravy

by Raymond Carver

No other word will do. For that’s what it was.
Gravy.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. “Don’t weep for me,”
he said to his friends. “I’m a lucky man.
I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don’t forget it.”

 

Hummingbird

by Raymond Carver

Suppose I say summer,
write the word “hummingbird”,
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

 

Teleport Memory

by Patrick Chapman

 

Eighteen winters on, I find your jet-black

hold-up in my box of old remarkables,

the rubber garter still with spring in it.

 

I drape the stocking long on the bed

and try to imagine your pale slender leg

filling it toe to knee to thigh and beyond

 

in a matter transmitter reconstitution

of you with a physical copy that holds

your consciousness, your memories,

 

your tenderness, your wit still dry –

while out in the real, the original you

has surely diverged in directions I can’t

 

follow: some of your people passed on;

you a mother, an aunt or alone; and every

cell in your body, twice overwritten.

 

If that you can bear think of me

it may be with disdain for who I was

at the end but listen, my old love,

 

he has been replaced so many times –

no longer that young cripple who,

out of repression and pain, cracked

 

your heart and in its fracture fatally

punctured his own. So far undone is he

that even teleport could never bring us home.

 

Alone with Everybody

by Charles Bukowski

 

the flesh covers the bone

and they put a mind

in there and

sometimes a soul,

and the women break

vases against the walls

and the men drink too

much

and nobody finds the

one

but keep

looking

crawling in and out

of beds.

flesh covers

the bone and the

flesh searches

for more than

flesh.

 

there’s no chance

at all:

we are all trapped

by a singular

fate.

 

nobody ever finds

the one.

 

the city dumps fill

the junkyards fill

the madhouses fill

the hospitals fill

the graveyards fill

 

nothing else

fills.

 

EDGE

by Sylvia Plath

The woman is perfected
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

 

The Causes

by Jorge Luis Borges

The sunsets and the generations
The days and none was first.
The freshness of water in Adam’s
Throat. Orderly paradise.
The eye deciphering the darkness.
The love of wolves at dawn.
The word. The hexameter. The mirror.
The Tower of Babel and pride.
The moon which the Chaldeans gazed at.
The uncountable sands of the Ganges.
Chuang Tzu and the butterfly that dreams him.
The golden apples on the islands.
The steps in the wandering labyrinth.
Penelope’s infinite tapestry.
The circular time of the Stoics.
The coin in the mouth of the dead man.
The sword’s weight on the scale.
Each drop of water in the water clock.
The eagles, the memorable days, the legions.
Caesar on the morning of Pharsalus.
The shadow of crosses over the earth.
The chess and algebra of the Persians.
The footprints of long migration.
The sword’s conquest of kingdom’s.
The relentless compass. The open sea.
The clock echoing in the memory.
The king executed by the ax.
The incalculable dust that was armies.
The voice of the nightingale in Denmark.
The calligrapher’s meticulous line.
The suicide’s face in the mirror.
The gambler’s card. Greedy gold.
The forms of a cloud in the desert.
Every arabesque in the kaleidoscope.
Each regret and each tear.
All those things were made perfectly clear
So our hands could meet.

 

Dulce et Decorum est

by Wilfred Owen

 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

 

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

 

The Diameter of the Bomb

by Yehuda Amichai

 

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters

And the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,

With four dead and eleven wounded.

And around these, in a larger circle

Of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered

And one graveyard. But the young woman

Who was buried in the city she came from,

At a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,

Enlarges the circle considerably,

And the solitary man mourning her death

At the distant shores of a country far across the sea

Includes the entire world in the circle.

And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans

That reaches up to the throne of God and

Beyond, making

A circle with no end and no God.

 

Sometimes you go upstairs

by David Milligan-Croft

 

Sometimes, you might hear a bang-

Like something has been knocked over.

And, you shout out,

“Hey! What are you two up to?”

 

Sometimes, you go upstairs,

You know, to check on the girls.

To make sure they haven’t kicked off

Their duvets, or fallen out of bed.

 

But, when you go up,

You realise they’re not there anymore.

And, for a moment,

You thought life was like it was before.

 

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Slow Clocks of Decay


My good friend, Patrick Chapman, has just published his seventh – yes, 7th! – collection of poetry. And it’s utterly brilliant.

Personally, I think Slow Clocks of Decay is a bit more experimental than his earlier works. Though, no less exceptional.

He writes of love and loss with a thoroughly modern voice.

You won’t find images of Ireland’s rolling green pastures here, but a dystopian 21st century society.

He’s one of the best poets Ireland has ever produced and, mark my words, he’ll win the Nobel Prize for Literature one day.

So, just click on the links to order your copy. And, to whet your palate, I’ve included a taster under the pic., with the kind permission of the author.

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Teleport Memory

By Patrick Chapman.

 

Eighteen winters on, I find your jet-black

hold-up in my box of old remarkables,

the rubber garter still with spring in it.

 

I drape the stocking long on the bed

and try to imagine your pale slender leg

filling it toe to knee to thigh and beyond

 

in a matter transmitter reconstitution

of you with a physical copy that holds

your consciousness, your memories,

 

your tenderness, your wit still dry –

while out in the real, the original you

has surely diverged in directions I can’t

 

follow: some of your people passed on;

you a mother, an aunt or alone; and every

cell in your body, twice overwritten.

 

If that you can bear think of me

it may be with disdain for who I was

at the end but listen, my old love,

 

he has been replaced so many times –

no longer that young cripple who,

out of repression and pain, cracked

 

your heart and in its fracture fatally

punctured his own. So far undone is he

that even teleport could never bring us home.

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Viva! Roxy Music #232/365


I bought Viva! Roxy Music in 1976, when I was 12.

I had a few singles from the past, but this was my first full album – and it was live! (Not sure where I got the money from to buy it. Probably pinched it off my sister. Only kidding – I had a milk round.)

A bit like Bowie, Roxy Music helped me through my formative years. (Or hindered them. It’s hard to tell which.) And yes, I did have a stupid floppy fringe.

True, they probably don’t have the creative gravitas that Bowie still holds today. But when Brian Eno was with them they were a class act.

Unfortunately, they kind of slipped into the bland malaise of pop as the years went by.

I went to see them at the Point Depot in Dublin with my good friend, Mr. Patrick Chapman. The audience was filled with 40-something+s, like us. In fact, I think it’s the last gig I went to. (I don’t really like crowds.) Or other people, for that matter.

Anyways, here are a few of my faves from the album and there’s even a link to a greatest hits should you be feeling nostalgic.

And, if you want to see what Roxy Music look (and sound) like in the 21st century, here’s “If there is something” from a gig in Lyon last year. (By ‘eck, the years have been kind to Andy McKay on sax.)

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W.B. Yeats as you’ve never heard before…


Just a quickie today. I wanted to share this stunning musical version of W.B. Yeats’ poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Sung by Angel Harrigan, it’s hauntingly seductive. Music by Roger Gregg, from the album, Serpent In The Bee-Loud Glade.

Brought to my attention by one of Ireland’s preeminent poets, Patrick Chapman. Have a sneaky listen to one of his poems here, too.

P.S. Apologies to my FB friends for whom I have already shared this.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

By W.B. Yeats

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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The Boating Party – with Patrick Chapman


Renoir, luncheon of the boating party, 1881

Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a brand new feature on my blog. It’s a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers and the like.

In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.

Artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

I hope a brief glimpse into their lives is as inspiring to you as it is to me.

First up, Irish writer, Patrick Chapman. Poet, screenwriter, short story writer and all round raconteur. Not only is Patrick a great friend, he’s been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration, for my own writing.

Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

I hesitate to nominate a ‘greatest personal achievement’. As a person, I’m not entirely sure I’ve achieved anything apart from not dying. As a writer, I could nominate working with the Daleks on a Doctor Who audio play – but that’d be just the most fun. It’d have to be my New & Selected Poems, A Promiscuity of Spines, which spans 25 years of work. The book has an elegant cover art-directed by Vaughan Oliver, one of my design heroes. It was a pleasure to be able to commission him and find out that he’s a lovely bloke to work with.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

That’s difficult to say, as I live in the so-called First world. Someone takes away my iPad and I cite the Geneva Convention. You could say I’ve sacrificed having a regular life in order to be a writer – which to me isn’t a sacrifice.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

Too many people to list them all. There was Macdara Woods, a venerable Irish poet who, 25 years ago, gave me vital encouragement starting off. Before that, my teacher of English, Paddy Nangle, let me write short stories instead of essays.

Who and what inspire you?

People who don’t think they can write but who really can. I taught budding writers a couple of years ago and was struck by the quiet ones in the class – they hesitated and even resisted reading in front of the others but when they did, their work shone. Quiet geniuses inspire me. As for what rather than who? Everything and anything. I tend to get obsessed by a thought or an idea that won’t let go until I’ve wrestled it into a poem. Happiness, therefore, is a blank screen filled.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

It was Steven Shainberg’s film, Fur, which is an imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus. Not at all biographical in the conventional sense. Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr are both superb in it. The poster for Fur showed Downey without all the hair – for most of that film he looks like a Wookiee but the marketing department, presumably, didn’t want it to come across as a sequel to Beauty and the Beast.

What makes you unhappy?

Right now it’s the thought that we’re quite possibly heading into a world of six degrees of global warming. That’s not Earth, it’s Venus. Nobody in power wants to think about it and it’s almost too terrible to contemplate, so people carry on regardless.

What makes you smile?

Woody Allen when he’s on form. His early, funny ones still crack me up, especially Take the Money and Run, and Love & Death. Annie Hall and Manhattan are my two favourites. I also have a fondness for his darker films, such as Husbands and Wives and Deconstructing Harry. Cassandra’s Dream was terrible, however.

What are you reading?

The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch. I loved his earlier book, The Fabric of Reality, and this one is as good. I recently finished Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, which was a hoot, especially as I was about to undergo a colonoscopy shortly after reading it.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

Dark Wood, the new e.p. by my current favourite band Abagail Grey, plus the Go-Betweens compilation, Quiet Heart, the Pet Shop Boys album, Elysium, and the David Byrne and St. Vincent record, Love This Giant.

What’s your favourite film?

Blade Runner. For thirty years I’ve loved its melancholy and its pessimism and its art direction, and Sean Young with that hair and those shoulder pads. It’s such a poetic portrait of lost souls in hell, and it’s got a great soundtrack by Vangelis. It’s also Harrison Ford’s finest two hours on film.

What frightens you?

The future. I have no idea how to manipulate it so that I don’t end up dead within the next hundred years.

What can’t you live without?

Apart from the obvious – air, water, coffee, etc – it’s the ability to write. This is what keeps me going. Without writing, I don’t really exist.

What’s your motto?

“The world is not enough.” If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me.

If you could be anyone other than yourself, who would it be?

J.G. Ballard, for his vision but not necessarily for his demons, though the two are inextricable. He gave a very good answer to the Paris Review when asked about his writing schedule: “Two hours in the late morning, two in the early afternoon, followed by a walk along the river to think over the next day. Then at six, Scotch and soda, and oblivion.”

If you only had one year to live what would you do?
Ignore all the warnings.

Up whose arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

The Catholic Church. But that’s a lot of rockets and a lot of arses. It would be only part payback, and poetic justice, for their former practice of torturing infidels to death by shoving hot pokers up their bottoms. That said, let’s not even get started on the Catholic Church and bottoms.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Steven Moffat. He’s a writing hero, not just for Doctor Who and Sherlock. I loved Coupling and Jekyll as well. I assume from all of this, plus his former Twitter feed, that he’d be interesting company at close quarters. I’d just let him do all the talking, and would write everything down.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just put the New & Selected Poems to bed and am now turning to a collection of short stories, due out next year. Also, my physique. One of these projects is going better than the other.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

You know when you’ve just come down with a sudden, life-threatening illness in public and someone asks ‘Who’s your doctor?’ and you say ‘Tom Baker’? That’s how you know you’re a nerd. I’d ask Tom Baker first, not just because he was ‘my’ Doctor growing up but because I really enjoyed the tales of Soho in his autobiography – getting drunk with Francis Bacon – and his disturbing and brilliant book for children, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. Jessica Hynes would be on the list too because I’ve admired her work since Spaced. Kate Bush, simply because she’s Kate Bush. Richard Dawkins, because he’s fascinating as a scientist, and I’m in his camp when it comes to religion. Alan Turing, just so I could tell him he’s been vindicated. And Douglas Adams, because he was very, very tall.

What question would you have liked me to ask?

Would you rather be happy than right?

I’d rather not be happy than wrong.

Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick Chapman

A Promiscuity of Spines by Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman was born in 1968 and lives in Dublin, Ireland. He is the author of six poetry collections, the latest of which, A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems, is published on October 10th by Salmon Poetry. His other collections are Jazztown (1991), The New Pornography (1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (2007), A Shopping Mall on Mars (2008), and The Darwin Vampires (2010). He has also written a book of stories, The Wow Signal (2007); an award-winning film, Burning the Bed; episodes of the Cbeebies series Garth & Bev; and a Doctor Who audio play, Fear of the Daleks. In 2010 his work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Weblink.
http://www.salmonpoetry.com/

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The Darwin Vampires


Declared interest.

If you want to know what contemporary Irish poetry is all about, then look no further than The Darwin Vampires by Patrick Chapman.

You not only get an insight into modern-day Ireland, but also a glimpse into the mind of an extraordinary writer.

It has everything from science fiction to science fact. It’s sexy and seedy, provocative and profound. Sometimes dark with Gothic undertones, other times, witty and wistful.

The Darwin Vampires by Patrick Chapman

If you love poetry then you’ll love Chapman’s unique voice. I guarantee you won’t have read anything similar. And if you don’t read poetry, this is a good place to start as The Darwin Vampires is brimming, not just with verse, but with ideas.

The Darwin Vampires is Patrick Chapman’s fifth collection of poetry and is published by Salmon Poetry.

Patrick Chapman

The Darwin Vampires

© Patrick Chapman

for Catherine

Being loth to sink in at your neck, they prefer to drink
Between your toes. They revel in the feet; they especially
Enjoy those places in between, where microbial kingdoms,
Overthrown with a pessary, render needle-toothed
Injuries invisible; where any trace of ingress, lost in the fold,

Is conspicuous – as they themselves in daylight are –
By its absence. You will hardly notice that small
Sting; might not miss a drop until the moment
That the very last is drained. And when you’re six
Beneath the topsoil, you will never rise to join them.

Rather, you will be a hint; a fluctuating butterfly;
A taste-regret on someone’s tongue; a sudden tinted
Droplet in the iris of a fading smile; a blush upon
A woman’s rose; a broken vein in someone’s eyelid –
Always one degree below what’s needed to be warm.

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Poetry lessons by Roger McGough


Quite a few years ago now, I went on a poetry workshop in Grasse – the perfume capital of France, with my friend, and proper poet, Patrick Chapman. (Who, incidentally, has a new collection out should you wish to pur-chase a copy. I would recommend it – he’s very good.)

The workshop was held in La Rivolte, a 19th century villa overlooking Grasse and the Cote d’Azur. We were taught by the incredible, Roger McGough. Probably most famous as a Liverpool ‘beat’ poet of the 1960s along with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten.

Apart from being a brilliant poet, Roger is a fine tutor and very down-to-earth man. One of the exercises he taught us was to flick through a book, pick a page at random, and write down the top line of the page.

This is the first line of your poem.

Then off you go.

You use the line from the book as a window into your imagination.

What comes next?

It’s up to you.

Once you’ve finished your poem, go back to the top of the page and change the first line of the poem. That way, it is truly yours.

Normally, when I write poetry I like to write about personal experiences, so this method can seem a little detached. But it’s a great way of getting your creative juices going if you’re in a bit of a rut. In fact, I borrowed the technique to write a screenplay based on one of Modigliani’s paintings.

Anyway, here’s one I prepared earlier using this technique.

UNFORTUNATE TIMING.

By David Milligan-Croft

I paced around the boutique,
Trying to look inconspicuous
Amongst the throng
Of Saturday afternoon shoppers.

I could see your feet
And calves protruding
From beneath the changing room door.

Your skirt slid to the floor.
You stepped out of it,
And kicked it to one side.

Your hands appeared,
Clutching a black chiffon dress,
Then disappeared again as you drew it up your thighs.

After a few seconds,
Your calves wiggled, as if
You were marching on the spot.

Your feet turned to the left,
Then they turned to the right.
I visualised you admiring your behind.

Suddenly, an old girlfriend appeared,
And asked how I was getting on.
Then the door creaked slowly open:
“How do I look?”

P.S. Roger McGough wrote quite a lot of the screenplay for The Beatles film – Yellow Submarine, but never actually got a credit. Just thought you should know.

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