“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
– Isoroku Yamamoto
I promised there would be a third. This is largely due to the fact this was written before the second one…
I speak of course of my third, and final, poetry pamphlet. I made my first back in 2010 in response to the pretty dire turn of events after the joke that was the general election. Bile duly spilled, I wanted to write something less reactionary and more considered. The idea for Giant was inspired by a track of the same name by one of my favourite bands the Bad Plus (you can listen to it here). I say ‘idea’, more of the mood. This track in particular has a connection to a certain point in my life defined by a relationship at the time. It is a very important piece of music to me. The plot for the now pamphlet, such as it is, came about as I was listening to this whilst walking through my old hometown in the winter. The town was empty and quiet. From there I originally intended the story to be a screenplay with almost no dialogue but considering I had two other screenplays that will probably never get made I liked the idea too much to just let it disappear in my pile of “to do’s”. As such I decided to make a poem out of it. I also liked the idea of a poem about a “real” giant. I initially tried to argue it was one or the other but at the suggestion of my then girlfriend I decided to write both. Happily they both coincided with one another’s themes and overall mood. As such, I decided to make them separate poems but in the same story.
I wrote them both over the course of three evenings with the particular track played on a loop, much to my then girlfriend’s annoyance no doubt. The poem/s are written in what is known as Heroic Verse. If you think you don’t know it, you do. Translations of The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and many other ‘Epic’ poems are all written in this style. It is basically defined as unbroken couplets of iambic pentametric verse, its name comes, ordinarily, from its subject matter i.e. Heros and their doings. Heroic verse is intimidating. It is a long block of text that is normally pretty dense due to the poets need for interesting, multi-syllable words. Most ‘Epic’ poems are tricky to read and fairly hard to untangle for this reason but are immensely rewarding when you do. Ironically all the meter and so on is designed to make it easier to read, giving it rhythm and bounce. A lot of the time this verse will rhyme, I took a leaf out of Milton’s book and decided to leave it Blank i.e. Unrhymed. HOWEVER. The story the poem tells is odd, faltering and (hopefully) dreamlike and as such I have done as much as possible, and as subtly as I can, to break up these conventions. I deliberately have used several instances of internal rhyme spread over three or four lines to break up the couplets as well as pretty strong alliteration to jar in the middle of lines.
Fun Fact: Neuroscience has settled on what humans define as ‘A Moment’ – that which we call upon as a specific memory of an event, etc – as 7 seconds. A line of Iambic Pentametric verse, strangely enough, takes roughly this length of time to read. We utilise rhymes as an echo of a previous moment so as to tap into our memory or nostalgia for a previous moment. Stretching this band of time by placing the rhyme just out of sight of its 7 second predecessor should instead create discomfort in a more de ja vu effect. Furthermore, by placing hard consonants in succession K’s, G’s and the like, you halt a specific flow created by liquid vowels causing a typically 7 second memory to elongate perhaps to the point where the beginning of the line drops out of the moment. This is particularly effective if you are using enjambement from the previous line as this further muddies the memory of the previous line…
Sorry I’ll stop with the nerdy, techy bollocks now.
Fact is, this poem went through a lot of revisions and was quite a bit of work. It is a very technical piece of work on a purely structural level but also on an intuitive level. The pamphlet in its entirety is actually a metaphor within a metaphor within a metaphor. As usual with most of what I write I have no idea whether it is any good or not. I am proud of it however.
The pamphlets themselves were printed where I live right here in Manchester by Marc the Printers who have done a bang up job. They’re definitely the prettiest of the three pamphlets I’ve made. And less than half the price of the other two for the same amount and better paper! Bargain! Needless to say the papers and inks are all recycled and environmentally friendly. The cover/s are based on the classic Russian Propaganda posters from the second world war which, whilst evil and wrong, are still gorgeous works of art. I refined them to a similar standard of three colours inspired by the beautiful alternative posters to Black Swan posters. The design, layouts, typesetting and proofing is all my own so I accept all responsibility for any errors in the printing or production. I have already spotted one or two but ultimately there are no ‘Deal Breakers’ I don’t think.
The pamphlet will be Launched sometime this month. I don’t know where or when but it will happen. I am selling this one. My previous two were free to anyone who wants them and still are but I am unemployed and need the money now so these are available for the princely sum of £3 each, which I think is more than fair. There is hopefully enough inside to reward repeated reads.
I would like to thank people who will never read this blog for the influence and assistance in getting this written and made: Alex Herod, The Bad Plus, Don Patterson John Milton, Homer, Alan Moore, Alex Proyas and Dark City, Michael Rosen, Roald Dahl but most of all to the man who will read this blog; Joel Swann, without whom I’d never have got this printed and who encouraged an uneducated simpleton to pretend what he wrote was worth reading. Thanks Joel.
Follow my Twitter feed for updates and info on the launch but in the meantime, Happy National Poetry Day for Thursday and I hope to see you soon and enjoy my little story.