29.9.09

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28.9.09

POEM-ANGER RITUAL IN THE FIELD OF DREAMS




ANGER RITUAL IN THE FIELD OF DREAMS

I say: ‘Let’s get this out into the World!’
And you; a little scared, ask how it’s done.
And, with a wild war-cry I charge the bales!
A glinting sword cleaves the morning air!
Massed ranks of demons fall apart and flee
 into the  woods while I, grimly pursue,
slashing back and forth and widow-making
in the hay, and screaming all the while.
Your face breaks into smiles to see man’s rage
revealed without some covering cloak of shame.
And then you shout and charge...yourself in turn!
A swirling sword flailing in your hand,
like a true warrior my son!  The day
we slew our foes upon the Field of Dreams.

25.9.09

REVIEW OF 'THE SECRET'

This is the kind of drivel that makes my blood boil. Why? Why can't I just shake my head and pass on by? Because this Law of Attraction crap is endemic. It's everywhere! It takes the gullible for a ride and gives a platform to dangerous fools. Dangerous because they encourage regression back to some ignorant childish state where the sun rises just for you and where anything will happen just because you want it to.
And here we have some dimple cheeked workshop leaders telling us we can have all that money-squillions! We can have that fancy sports car. We can feed all those insecurities with wish-fulfillment. We too can have sexual partners hurl themselves at our feet and ride into New York on a donkey to the sound of ringing hosannas.
This string of dodgy looking gurus bedeck themselves with titles like Prof this or Dr that. I'd guess there's hardly an o'level between the lot of them. And what also galls is the sheer poverty of their message. That material wealth will somehow make you feel better about yourself.  That 'feelings' are what it's all about.
I'll tell you a secret-for nothing-it's true!  You can do just about anything if you put your mind to it but get this-shit happens!  Of course you can change and grow but get this too-it takes work, damned hard work and discipline and study and maybe even a seasoning of good old luck.  Just sitting there's not going to do it.  Nope!  Sorry!
The Integral Living Program devised by Integral Institute is based on ideas and facts from the very latest research in Developmental Psychology and some of the best brains around.  Go have a look at Integral Institute's website.  But don't expect any secrets.  Nobody is going to give you any secrets!  You've got to get off your lardy backside and work!
The Secret is a manual for narcissists who are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
This is brain gloop.  This is chicken-shit for the Soul.  Avoid like the plague!  Unclean!  Unclean!

18.9.09

A love sonnet for a friday

I love sonnets; little balls of poetic gold they are. And they are quite ancient forms too, first created by Petrarch around 1235 or so, and then developed and evolved by poets ever since. Sonetto is the italian for 'room' or 'small song' or 'little sound' and that's a good description of this form with its endless possibilities for interior design!  In English the rhyme scheme was adapted and evolved, most notably by Shakespeare with his three quatrains and rhyming end couplet.  Lately the form has taken off yet again and Seamus Heaney's sonnets are glorious as are those by Edna St Vincent Millay, Kavanagh and Frost-check out his, 'Acquainted with the Night'. As Edward Hirsch and the divine Eavan Bolan write in their definitive book 'The Making of a Sonnet'-'Each poet individually comes up against the massive determinants of the form.'  These determinants of form are the ground where the muse is provoked out of her normal register/provoked into sometimes bringing down the fire from the heavens and manifesting some awful or wondrous truth.  Isn't that one of the things that poetry is for?  Elsewhere Hirsch alludes to the sonnet as 'a small vessel capable of plunging tremendous depths' and most beautifully as 'one of the enabling forms of human inwardness.'
This little song doesn't have any of those pretensions.  It was written as a bit of fun for my beloved; and that's also what poetry's for.

Here I've kept to a fourteen lined iambic pentameter, folded the piece into a quatrain, a middle couplet (where I've tried to stash the notorious sonnetic turn) and a concluding octet with an emphatic closing final two lines. Naturally this sonnet was written for my beloved Millie, to be recited by me, clad in tights and strumming a melancholy chord upon my lute in the lower garden (God!  What a thought!) while she attends to her toilette at her balcony. I hope you enjoy it.
Success to your work!



MILLIE

You’re more to me than earth and moon and all
the fancy treasures; pearls and solid gold
stashed in sparkling piles in vaulted halls.
Beside your beauty they’re just old and cold!

As rivers run their channels to the sea,
so time marches with a jaunty swing.

How hot the day was you turned thirty-three!
And, as a gift, I wrote this little thing.
It may not last like diamonds or gold;
It will not bring the critics to their knees!
Nor alter much the flowing of your day.
And what I truly feel cannot be told.
Like the wind that breathes on forest trees,
my love breathes in the spaces of your soul.

8.9.09

THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE

Stephen Covey published his book in 1989 and it's been a bestseller ever since. I wrote these habits down several years ago and kept them on my wall to remind me what constitutes effectiveness as a human being. I don't think we can hear about these too often and I am saddened that so few leaders in the world today appear to possess these habits. It aint rocket science and they work.

BE PROACTIVE
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
THINK WIN/WIN
SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND,THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
SYNERGISE
SHARPEN THE SAW



This mindmap is by Serge de Gheldere and is taken from Gideon King's Novamind Connect site.  Novamind offers an excellent piece of mindmapping software for macs.  See more at http://www.novamind.com/connect/nm_documents/269

1.9.09

THE ORGANISED WRITER

I promised some time ago to write a short piece about how I personally organise my writing and my projects. I'm by no means suggesting this as an example of ultimate organisational skill but only as possibly giving a wee bit of advice and ideas that may be useful.

I don't separate my writing and professional and personal life into silos-that doesn't work for me. So this is, I guess, how I organise my whole life, in terms of trying to achieve my goals with the minimum amount of fuss and stress.
The major reason I make a big study out of this is because I am, at heart and by nature, a complete airhead!

The uber-template for my work is provided by David Allen's Getting Things Done or GTD as its known. His best-selling book by the same name is available everywhere. Allen begins his strategy for organising information into CAPTURE. If useful info flows past you and into the big sea, there's loads of good stuff you're going to miss-ideas, research, creative solutions, inspirational thoughts and deadline dates as well as opportunities. So capture it all and consign it like a great steaming pool of potential into the IN-TRAY.
Then on a daily basis you dive into this pool and bottom out the whole thing. Letters/emails/ideas on post-it notes/bills/unfinished poems/doctors appointments/execution warrants etc,
Each item is subjected to a formula-Can it be dumped? So bin it! Can it be done in less than three minutes? Then do it? Does it need to be deferred? So put it in a place where you'll pick it up again such as a @PROJECTS FILE. Is this item dependent on someone else? So slap it in a @WAITING ON file that you'll follow up appropriately
when the time is right. Create the files that work for you-we're all very different. But don't have too many action files.
The classic GTD process looks like this:



David Allen's website offers a range of GTD tools which are well made though a little pricey. Crafty folk can make their own. I would strongly advise getting a TICKLER FILE which is simply 43 folders labelled 1 through to 31 and 12 folders with the names of each month. You can place stuff in here that will ensure you come across it at the right date. A good labeller is also an essential tool for labelling your various folders or even your children-so you don't forget their names! A stapler that you can whack is also highly recommended. I also use a metal stacking desk-top system to store my current folders and my tickler file upright where they're all at hand.
I think the great thing about David's system is that, once you 'get it' and trust it then you can let go of remembering all that stuff which is a great stress releaser and I think a real aid for creatives.

For WRITING I carry a MOLESKINE notebook everywhere-they're just about the best I've used. At some point I transfer my writing to a hard backed and divided A4 notebook, again by hand- I use an Oxford FLINGBOOK. I use MINDMAPS to write my poems in this book and though somewhat arduous to do all this by hand I regard this step as an essential re-write. The completed poem or piece of writing is then ripped out and filed in a loose leaf file with a small sticky label with the name of piece written on. This eventually becomes a hand-written manuscript and it is this file that is typed into my computer as I hurl my quill pen to the floor and enter the digitised age. I use a 24 inch Mac Intel and write nearly everything in SCRIVENER-far and away my favourite writing program. Later they'll be exported to WORD but I rarely use that to actually write. If I'm on a PC I use PAGEFOUR which is similar to SCRIVENER but not, I feel, quite as good. I also use a Mac Laptop but mine recently blew its logic board so I'm unhappily using a Dell. I also use a dictaphone to record my work and read it back to myself. Currently I use tape but I'm considering some method of getting them onto cd's-I can't recommend enough listening to your own poems while you're cooking or taking a dump-Poetry is oral. Sometimes a poem won't reveal/expose itself until it's heard.
I write anachronistically with a Silver Parker filled with real ink. I keep a load of little supplies like sticky labels, index cards, scissors, pencils and highlighters and a very important RED PEN in a robust little zippered pouch. I always keep a couple of index cards in the back of whatever book I'm reading to keep a note of particular references or quotes.  I keep a range of 'Tombo' coloured pens for my hand drawn mindmaps near at hand. Like many writers I am almost sexually aroused by stationery supplies and am often to be found in such places gently fingering materials from the top shelf! (Enough of that! This is not a confessional piece!)

I have a Shorter Oxford DICTIONARY and a Roget's THESAURUS for reference. I'm not keen on any style instructors or grammar manuals like Fowler's or Strunk and White. (They've become a publishing opportunity for those people who enjoy wagging fingers and shouting such as Lynn Truss and John Humphreys. Language is alive and moves like a big dirty river-something these guys don't seem to realise. If you want to read something from someone who knows and loves language-try Bill Bryson's 'Mother Tongue' or Guy Deutscher's book or anything by Stephen Fry.)

On the computer I use EVERNOTE and YOJIMBO for capturing info like snippets of quotes or websites or visual info that I can sort through at leisure. I also use NOTEBOOK from CIRCUS PONIES SOFTWARE which is a digitised MOLESKINE and a lovely little program. The best mindmapping programs are MINDMANAGER and NOVAMIND and are easily available on the web.

I always use Mindmaps if I'm at a meeting or lecture and want to record information or actions.

If I'm writing all day, I do it in bed by the way, surrounded by my papers and tools and wearing my pyjamas. I only discovered them recently when I had to go to hospital-but honestly, pyjamas seem to be a uniform of the subconscious allowing a stream of creativity to flow through. Once you're dressed you're back in the Real World. For females I'm presuming long flowing nightdresses with fluffy collars would have the same effect. Or you could write naked I suppose? Whatever floats your boat! Me I'm sold on pyjamas-with buttoned shorts. (Not trousers with white cords-that would be 'Carry on Poet!' Don't do it!)

So there it is. I hope there was something there that was useful. Do let me have your comments and success to your work!

Tony.