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Friday, December 09, 2005

What I do is me: for that I came

Wow! This poem, from a workshop run by The Guardian, caught me by suprise.

How to photograph the heart by Christine Klocek-Lim

You remember how the lens squeezed
unimportant details into stillness:
the essential trail of rain down glass,
the plummet of autumn-dead leaves,
your grandfather's last blink when
the breath moved on.
Your startled hands compressed
the shutter when you realized: this is it,
this is the last movement he will take
away from the silent fall of morphine,
beyond the soft gasp of the nurse,
past the sick, slow thud of your heart
moving in the luminous silence.

It was written during a poetry workshop run by Lucy Newlyn, professor of English language and literature at Oxford University, who did something on "inscape" poems. She talks about an experience that has no word in English - the way someone's movement lets you "read" them. Not their body language but the way "you understand the way their whole identity is bound up in their physical presence, so that they seem absolutely at one with themselves - of a piece, so to speak."

It's the ordinariness of inscape that is fascinating. The relationship between the observor and observed also seems to be an important one and related in some way to the book I'm currently reading: "Ethnographically speaking - autoethnography, literature and aesthetics", edited by Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis (recommended by Lilia) with its emphasis on "sensuous engagement" and "intimate encounter".

Lucy Newlyn's call for poems went like this:

"The subject can be as ordinary as you like. The more ordinary it is, the more familiar you are likely to be with it, and this will probably mean your observation is better... Your prime task is to convince your readers of the physical presence of the thing/person/animal you are conjuring onto the page; and to show us how its identity is expressed through that movement."

Inspiring stuff. So I'm now off to reflect on a sensuous engagement or intimate encounter for my next inscape.