There comes a time for every poet when they reach a point were they have written all the childhood poems, all the where I come from poems, all the this is my family poems, all the here’s my version of that poem I love by that poet I love poems, all the here’s what I have to say about me and my life so far poems. They have managed to get to a point were they have established a voice, a certain style or styles and they have had a first or second collection out, and then like many bands or singers, they either begin to look for new sounds, new modes, new instruments, new notes to play like The Beatles did with the last four albums, or they might like The Rolling Stones have done for the last thirty years, make the same rocky blues album over and over again with the odd variation on occasion. I’d reached that place in my own poetic journey after I had published a pamphlet of poems in 2010 and then my first collection of poems in 2013, Litany of The City, both published by WurmPress.
So I was in no rush to write any of the same kind of poems as I had done in those books.
I wrote a novel The Blocks, published this summer of 2016, and the writing of that had took three years, but also in that time, a new poetic theme or themes had come upon me, when I was reading a book about The Beats in Paris in the 60’s, and a funny story that seemed to say much about poets stuck out as good material for a poem, it was the tale of Gregory Corso’s first royalty check for poetry and how he used it to buy a handmade white suit instead of anything practical like say, food and rent.
The poem was accepted for publication by The Stinging Fly magazine and they asked me if I had another poem to go with it that they could publish a long side it, I had a few months to come up with one, and so began to search for another poem which had an anecdotal quality and was about an interesting writer. The life of one Blaise Cendrars was the subject I set down to paper in a poem and so I had something new, a new hook that pulled me through the water to a new music on the shore. Once I heard the first new notes I had to train my poetic ear to catch the new song, dance to the new melody, it was great fun, I feel that artists must challenge themselves to grow, and avoid stagnating into sameness of song.
In those three years I wrote many poems about artistic and spiritual heroes and sometimes wrote the poem somewhat in the style of the subject, all the poems didn’t make it into the collection, I became much more of a cutter, as in I trimmed the fat off the lines and off the book to produce a slim and I hope more refined book of poems in my new collection Butterflies Of A Bad Summer. One similarity the new book has with the previous one is both contain a long elegy, Urban Elegy was a poem I wrote for a friend who died in his young manhood, which was in Litany Of The City, and during the writing of Butterflies Of A Bad Summer, my young nephew died of cancer, so I wrote an elegy for him, dealing with his illness, grief, acceptance, spiritual understanding of death, the poem No More The Clopping Hooves Of Deaths Horses In Your Legs, became the central poem in the collection, and my nephew Graham the greatest hero of the book. Poetry is our great tool for honouring the dead. I hope I have done enough to honour those I’ve tried to in this and my other books.
So poets when you reach that point of what to write about now? Just wait, be patient, be fucking Zen baby, listen for the new notes, play around with some new sounds, it will come eventually like a butterfly will if you stop chasing it and sit down, it will land in the palm of your hand, or that new sound may like a volcano erupt suddenly and start to flow and it will be beautiful when it does.
(c) Karl Parkinson
The Critics on Butterflies Of A Bad Summer