Thursday, June 07, 2007

Poetry Friday- Writer's Diary #29 (Capelin Of Mutford's Cove)

This poem had two parents, a technical father and an emotional mother. Or the other way around, it doesn't matter. The technical father wanted me to try prose poetry. I haven't had a lot of experience with that genre, but ever since a fellow poet brought a prose poem to writer's club a few weeks ago I've been itching to try it. Daddy Technical also wanted me to try writing more detailed description. This has long been a weakness of mine, and since beginning the poetry anthology An Ear To The Ground earlier this week and admiring some of the rich imagery, I've decided there was no time like the present to try honing my skills.

The emotional mother had been making me reminisce more and more about where I grew up. My grandmother took ill a couple of weeks ago and most of the family has been able to fly back to be with her. I live in the Arctic and so I can't possibly afford to fly back right now. But knowing that at least everyone else is there with her is comforting to me. This poem is not about her, but it is about home and she's always been a very important, special part of that.

Capelin Of Mutford's Cove (first draft)

Behind the cove where I grew up, was a hill. I’ve often gone there to look down, finding the smatterings of family. Part way between the ocean and the crest was our house. To the left, my grandparent’s; mom’s mom and dad. To the right, my grandmother’s; dad’s mom. Within feet, uncle George’s, uncle Lloyd’s and aunt Linda’s. We were seashells, collected and forgotten by a child on the beach.

I was once a teenager who rightfully couldn’t see the beauty of things. Except the thrill of a cheap drunk amongst friends and scraggly firs up behind the arcade. I dried capelin for money, beer money.

Once a summer, for a few short days, these fish beached themselves down over the bank from our house.

They came to these romantic shores to spawn. Jacks pressed up against the occasional female. A silver, dark green and pink mass flickering as it was scooped up piecemeal with castnets: thrown nets with lead bearings which encircled fragments and segments of the orgy, dumping them with hungry ceremony into empty salt beef buckets.

By the time I’d lug them up the slippery, grassy path their flickering had always stopped. Only a couple would’ve managed to catapult themselves over the plastic rim, pass the galvanized handle that dug into my fingers. These were left to rot amongst the buttercups, or be eaten by ants, or both.

At my back, the edge of the granite stone beach is buried under a spongy carpet of milt and tiny, seedy eggs.

Thanks to Christina Bulgin for this beautiful shot of Mutford's Cove.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

There really is a Mutford's Cove? How romantic.

I've decided that prose poetry is the type of poetry to which I can most relate. Or perhaps it's just your writing. This has a perfect combination of narrative and flights of imagination. Lovely.

John Mutford said...

Yes, Barbara, There really is a Mutford's Cove. There's also a town in England called Mutford. I hope to visit it someday, pretend I'm the Lord Mayor and start claiming taxes.

Glad you could relate. It's one of those things that becomes ingrained in your memory and you're never sure if you're expressing it okay to someone unfamiliar with the circumstance.

Anonymous said...

John: Well done, particularly for a first(ish) draft!

The only line that seemed a wee bit out of place to me was this one:
"Looking down from the hill, one is presented with the smatterings of family:" and here's why --

Firstly, I think it's the use of "one", instead of identifying it as yourself, or your teenage self.

Secondly, the image isn't as compact as many of the others, or as descriptive. Perhaps condensing it down a bit would add oomph to the idea of smatterings of family ( a particularly wonderful turn of phrase, by the way)?

Just my two cents, since you did ask for feedback over at Hip Writer Mama's. And a minor point, in a prose poem full of evocative imagery.

John Mutford said...

Kelly, great advice actually. I see your point, it does depersonalize it. Also, it's near the beginning and I need a stronger opener.

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Allison said...

That is a great shot, and I really enjoyed reading this. It depends on my mood sometimes, but I really do enjoy reading prose poetry, I find it just flows better in most cases.

Lovely piece.

John Mutford said...

Thanks Allison.

I've reworked the opening stanza from:

"The cove where I grew up was part valley. Looking down from the hill, one is presented with the smatterings of family: our house and to the left my grandparent’s; mom’s mom and dad. To the right, my grandmother’s; dad’s mom. Within feet, uncle George’s, uncle Lloyd’s and aunt Linda’s. We were seashells, collected and forgotten by a child on the beach."

to what you now see above, with Kelly's comments in mind.

John Mutford said...

Since posting this, I've taken it along to writing club and upon their advice, edited it slightly- not the least of which is changing "pass" to "past" (man, I hate embarassing things like that). I'd post the revised poem but I've decided to submit it for publication in the Newfoundland magazine, the Downhomer. It's not a literary journal, but the poem certainy fits their audience, I would think. I'll let you know if it gets accepted.

John Mutford said...

Darn typos. That should say "certainly" in the above comment.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited. I just got word that the good people at the Downhomer have decided to run my poem in their August issue. YAY!