Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting My Bearings

The Aerodrome
Seamus Heaney

First it went back to grass, then after that
To warehouses and brickfields (designated
The Creagh Meadows Industrial Estate),
Its wartime grey control tower rebuilt and glazed

Into a hard-edged CEO-style villa:
Toome Aerodrome had turned to local history.
Hangars, runways, bomb stores, Nissen huts,
The perimeter barbed wire, forgotten and gone.

But not a smell of daisies and hot tar
On a newly-surfaced cart-road, Easter Monday,
1944. And not, two miles away that afternoon,
The annual bright booths of the fair at Toome,

All the brighter for having been denied.
No catchpenny stalls for us, no
Awnings, bonnets, or beribboned gauds:
Wherever the world was, we were somewhere else,

Had been and would be. Sparrows might fall,
B-26 Marauders not return, but the sky above
That land usurped by a compulsory order
Watched and waited -- like me and her that day

Watching and waiting by the perimeter.
A fear crossed over then like the fly-by-night
And sun-repellant wing that flies by day
Invisibly above: would she rise and go

With the pilot calling from his Thunderbolt?
But for her part, in response, only the slightest
Back-stiffening and standing of her ground
As her hand reached down and tightened around mine.

If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.


This was the poem I opted to write my essay on in the Rise of the Lyric exam earlier, since it was always easier for me to grasp contemporary lyric poetry - having been writing like that for a few years now - and because I'm generally familiar with the criticism and the poetry that exist in this genre. Of course, when I told my classmates that I answered the Heaney poem (our options were W.H. Auden, Coleridge, Heaney, and a line quoted from John Stuart Mill), they all freaked out - how could I have written a response to a contemporary poet? I just found it funny, because these kinds of poems come quite easily - it's like a poetic osmosis, where your eyes just sink into the words and letters and you let them carry you across their current, feeling them cradle your body as you drown in the words. I imagine this is how Lyra feels when she reads the altheiometer in The Golden Compass - you can't quite explain how you do it, but you can just sink into it.

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A couple of poems of mine were accepted to Argot Magazine, the literary journal of NUS. The volume will be published next semester, and I'm looking forward to seeing my stuff in print - it's just a school publication, I know, but hey, we take everything we can. I'm hoping to build up my fiction portfolio this summer - I've been writing a lot of beginnings lately, but I can't seem to find the right voice for the stories that are itching to get out. Which bugs me a lot because I'd like to be a bit more productive than I was this semester, but what with presentations and papers and exams, I suppose I really can't help it. The thing with graduate studies is why there is less work in terms of quantity, there is a HUGE amount of pressure in terms of quality of output which is actually more tiring that I ever imagined - especially since I'm not really a serious "lit crit" person and would rather spend my time looking for that perfect combination of words to jump-start a story or a poem. Still, one must always be aware of the other side of the coin.

On a brighter note, I went on a book-buying spree this weekend, to make up for the frustration of not being able to buy anything during the last month because of financial problems. Of course, I'm poor once again, but at least I'm going home by the end of this week, so I'm not too worried about that. And besides, the Forum Bookstore (our campus supplies store) was having a bargain books sale, so I picked up the following titles:

Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card

The Gate to Women's Country - Sheri S. Tepper (a fantasy book with a feminist slant, which came with A's recommendation, so if this is crap, I can beat him up)

A collection of Henrik Ibsen's plays, including A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People and Hedda Gabler (I figured it was high time to educate myself when it came to Ibsen, since everyone talks about him but I've never read him O_o)

The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century - Martin Price, editor (because anthologies like these are always good for the wannabe English teacher)

Furthermore, since I visited Kinokuniya over the weekend in a vain attempt to look for Kyou Kara Maou stuff for my younger sister Bea, I ended up buying MORE books for myself - unfortunately, both were in hardcover, but then they were young adult books that were absolutely vital to my collection, and so I couldn't resist. And so, to add to the list:

Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares (say what you will, but I've fallen in love with the series)

The Key to the Kingdom: Lady Friday - Garth Nix (I've been waiting for this book ever since August of last year, and I'm just so happy it's out already)

Sigh. Now all I need is The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien, and my life is complete. Until the next booklust comes over me again. O_o

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I leave for Davao this Saturday. I'll be touching down the city at approximately 6:00 AM. Time has this tendency of flying by too fast.

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