INSOMNIA


Sleepless
sleep less
without sleep
lacking sleep
minus sleep
positive negative

Sleeplessness
Sleep less ness
either way looks sleepy to me
nessling  nestling
between the sheets
under the quilt
snuggling the pillows
lack between abundance
thorn between roses
pea between mattresses

INSOMNIA
Synonym – sleeplessness
Antonym – sleepiness
New Antonym – sleepnest!

Restless
Restlessness
Rest less ness
same same
resting lacking nestling
comfort minus comfort
positive negative positive

INSOMNIA
Synonym – restlessness
Antonym – restfulness
New Antonym – restnest!

Jud House  16/09/2013

* * * * *

DECLINING


Declining
sinking slowly into miasma
into slow-sand  into mire
into immobility
with such clarity.

How cruel can life be?

What was faced during life
traumas dealt with
crushing emotional blows
intellectual defeats
missed opportunities
uncalled for discriminations
injustices intentional and unintentional
is nothing.

How cruel can death be?

No living to the full
to slip away in sleep.
No sudden rending pain
shocking your systems
frying your circuits
then gone  peace.
No sudden stroke
numbing your muscles
from which return is possible.

How cruel can decline be?

Fully aware  cognizant
slowly watching yourself sink
patronised by strangers
talking at you in third person.
No pain to let you know you’re alive
it’s managed by morphine.
No discrimination here.
Taking no mind of your cleverness
your life accomplishments
your talents  beauty  knowledge.
All slowly phased out
till you’re a mind in a body
refusing to let you speak
unresponsive  leaden
manhandled by strangers
never alone  family in vigil-mode
interminably listening to conversations
you can’t join  you don’t want to hear.
Lying breathing open-mouthed
intermittent deaths occasionally
in a holding pattern
for hours  days  even weeks.

Do your dead siblings wait in the shadows?
Can you let go and join them?
Must you cling on while family linger?

How wonderful will death be?

(C) Jud House  10/04/2013 * * * * *

FOR A SHED


For want of a shed
for need of paved yard
for a lockable gate
ocean view thrown in
throw away common sense?

Unrealistic vendor expectations
ignoring market values
stubborn offer resistance
no common sense.

Good size rooms
good views from cool site
good number of rooms
good potential studio
good layout
plus side of common sense.

Poor quality fixtures
poor functioning fittings
poor neglected areas
poor work needing repairs
poor presentation
negative side of common sense.

Money to be spent
shade sails required
studio hot-house modified
lap pool installed
carpets replaced by bamboo boards
tree removal  frangipani planting
bathroom upgrades
kitchen bench-top  stone replacement
money side of common sense.

Walk away . . . .

(C) Jud House  8/04/2013

* * * * *

ELLADAN HALF-ELVEN


Rescued  elvish cat
milky eyes and feathered ears
scruffy  skinny  rat-tail end

Treasured pet
timid scaredy cat
commandeering the bed

Long-haired  handsome
white tipped tail
imposing  weighty  in his prime

Hair shedder bigtime
constant hair-bunnies
decorate the floors
the sheets

Stone deaf  ancient
full furred  should be bald
‘3 cats worth’ and counting

Yowling full-voice  fretting
resounding in still streets
neighbourhood nightmare

Outside the house
inside the house
echoing in the lobby
up the stairs
till he sights his people

Meep?

(C) Jud House  3/04/2013

* * * * *

THE ONE-WAY STREET


Life is a one-way street.
being born
dying.
~
Moving through schools
easily
with difficulty
passing or failing.

Moving through careers
in for the long haul
flitting from job to job
succeeding or failing.
~
Always forward – you can’t go back.
~
On the homefront
in for the long haul
stay in one place
ownership.

On the move literally
restlessness
itchy feet
taking your home with you
an overladen snail.
~
Always forward – you can’t go back.
~
Friendships for life
or days, months, years
in continuity
or picked up after time-gaps
enduring through troubles
or dropped at breaking point.

Partnerships – marital and business
for the duration.
How long is that?
days, months, years
in continuity
or picked up after time-gaps
enduring through troubles
or dropped at breaking point.
~
Always forward – you can’t go back.
~
Relationships always lop-sided
phone calls  texts  emails
one-way down IT street
fitting in others’ schedules
losing life-time on-hold in case
wasting never regained hours
as age manhandles us on.
~
Always forward – you can’t go back.
It’s a one-way street.
~ ~ ~

Jud House   2/04/2013

* * * * *

THESIS – THE WRITING OF ‘MADAM PELE: A Contemporary Fantasy Novel’


What led me to write my novel ‘Madam Pele’, as a contemporary Mythical Fantasy novel – including discussions of both literary theory and influential authors of several genres.

For those of you who wish to view the complete Thesis, the following Link takes you directly to my Thesis page within the Edith Cowan University Repository.   Click on Madam Pele: novel and essay to open, then scroll and read the complete Thesis.

http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/37

Below is a Synopsis laying out the format of the Thesis.

ABSTRACT

In this essay I cover contemporary theoretical considerations, such as Modernism, Postmodernism and Fantasy, and the influences of various authors’ writing techniques, descriptive language and narrative-plot genres, that led me to want to write my novel Madam Pele as a contemporary mythical fantasy.

Naturally, my personal experiences form the foundation of the novel, especially those in Hawaii which contribute to its scope, but writing style is of equal importance.  In order to demonstrate what has led me to this stage of style development and position of perceptions, my early reading history and an analysis of the influential authors is a necessity.

‘Travelogue’ novels.

My definition of a ‘travelogue’ novel is one that describes the details of a journey to another country or location, as the vehicle for the story which is often secondary to those details.  I discuss two influential ‘travelogue’ novels: A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble, and Faraway by J B Priestley.

Crime novel plotting.

Having, over the years, accumulated an extensive library in Crime/Mystery fiction, with their often complex logical plots, I have learned not only to apply my analytical mind, by focussing on minutiae, but have gained a firm grounding in plot construction.

Analysis of influential authors.

Moving through the works of various authors I rejected many and was drawn closely to others.  I found that the novels that remained embedded in my mind contained the elements of satisfying plots, and mystery that was not always criminal, as I was drawn towards fantasy fiction.

Modern and Postmodern characteristics.

I discuss what characteristics constitute Modernism and Postmodernism, listing them as gleaned from my studies of Literary Theory, and reinforcing it with quotes from  Lewis and Moss.

Descriptive Language.

I define some literary terms, such as metaphor, simile, metonymy and synecdoche, and the specified or unspecified tenor of these language tropes which were often used figuratively.  They could all evoke an image that was instantly recognized, including the connotations of the chosen likenesses, and the baggage of intertextuality, the resultant image suggested – imagery contributing to the clarity of the wit, humour and landscape of the authors’ texts.

A particular knack with words.

Under this heading I deal with those authors whose works demonstrate this particular language use, plus aspects of literary theory that have been influential to my writing style.

Dylan Thomas:  I discuss Dylan Thomas’s use of evocative language in his prose, in some detail, referring to works such as Quite Early One Morning, HolidayMemory, and Under Milk Wood.  I love his prose.  It is easy, enjoyable, and engaging to read, written to be read aloud so that the music of the language can be heard.

P G Wodehouse:  While his plots and characters provide some comic nature to his stories, I believe the main contribution comes from his use of language, his surprising descriptive imagery, his use of metaphors and similes.  They engender chuckles that swell to gales of laughter.  I discuss this aspect of his writing, referring to Galahad at Blandings to illustrate my views.

Tim Winton:  Like P G Wodehouse, Tim Winton is a crafter of words, with the gift of creating evocative imagery.   I discuss his novel Lockie Leonard, HumanTorpedo, with its colloquial Australian language; followed by a detailed analysis of his novel The Riders and the Postmodern aspects of its text, including fantasy elements.

William Golding:  In his novel, Pincher Martin, Golding depicts the plight of a man lost at sea during the war, struggling to survive the elements while stranded on an isolated rock.  This novel demonstrates a Bakhtinian notion of ‘self’, as the protagonist strives to retain his identity without a reflected image or his view of himself as seen by others.

Fantasy.

            After defining Fantasy, Imagery and the Imagination, arguing for the legitimacy of fantasy as a general product of the imagination in line with Coleridge, Tolkien, and Le Guin’s opinions, I indicate the different types of Fantasy – High Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fantasy, and Realistic Fantasy – pointing out that my novel, Madam Pele, falls between High Fantasy and Realistic Fantasy, containing as it does authentic mythology presented within a real setting.

Analysis of influential authors.

High Fantasy.

I discuss J R R Tolkien’s views expressed in his essay On Fairy Stories, using an extract from my Honours thesis most of which I have included as an Appendix.

Sci-Fi Fantasy.

Briefly I discuss the works of Julian May, and glanced at “the increasingly inaccurately named Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy” byDouglas Adams.

Realistic Fantasy.

            The authors under this heading constitute my main focus as they deal with the area that I have chosen for my own novel.  Each has its own area of fantasy that is relevant to my work as indicated.

William Golding:  one step outside reality in The Inheritors.

Patricia Wrightson:  re her rock character in The Nargun and the stars.

Daphne Du Maurier: her temporal slippage between medieval and current Cornwall in The House on the Strand.

Susan Cooper: re her detailed use of medieval myths and symbols to authenticate her Dark is Rising series

J K Rowling: re the compounding complexities of her wizard world narratives.

Contemporary Fantasy.

This refers to other authors using postmodern format for fantasy, who opened doors for me to future writing possibilities.

Madam Pele : the novel.

My goal was to recreate an authentic myth into a contemporary literary myth including sufficient elements of the realistic novel to provide access to modern readers.  This section illustrates the methods that I used to achieve this.

Madam Pele – outline.

This gives a brief synopsis of my narrative, covering both the Hawaiian holiday taken by Di and Paul, but also their present predicament in Perth and their interaction with Madam Pele.

The importance of Madam Pele.

I discuss the importance of the character of Madam Pele to my narrative, through which her own story interweaves.

Postmodern characteristics.

I relist these characteristics and discuss their relevance within my narrative.

Geometric plotline.

This explains my geometric way of looking at the plotline, and includes a diagram.

Devices.

After defining the term, devices, I then discuss each device individually, showing how and why I have used it as a writing technique, under the subheadings: Dialogue; Non-essential descriptions; Patterns; Voices; Active Verbs; Free Verse; Inserts; ‘Travelogue’ nature.

 

Conclusion.

I mention that I hope my demonstration was successful regarding my reasons for writing my novel, Madam Pele, as a contemporary mythical fantasy, and that it indeed stands up as such – the implausable becoming reality with the Pele myth incorporated into the contemporary world.

SEMINAR on NARRATIVE POETRY


This was the Seminar I gave while at University during the late 1990s.  It was the precursor for my Essay NARRATIVE POETRY so is identical in places.  However, there is an oratorial nuance that underlies this version.  I have left in the ‘Read from ….’ lines, as they show how there were several larger portions of text read from the relevant works.  The Medieval texts were read, fluently, by Professor Andrew Taylor to demonstrate the nature of these texts as the Medieval audience would have perceived them – via the sound of the words as well as the allegorical narrative content.

Before the written word, verse was the form in which oral tales were told.  And when the written form began to appear, its form was still that of verse – alliterative verse with patterns of syllabic and spatial stress, i.e. metre and caesura, within each line, and, in some cases, rhyming patterns.  Their content was mainly of two kinds – heroic tales of super-powerful men battling super-natural enemies (monsters, dragons) as in Beowulf (C 8-10th), and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (about 1400); and allegories where abstract human traits were personified in order to drive home a homily on religious behaviour as in the C14th works, Piers the Plowman, Pearl and Canterbury Tales.

Read from Piers the Plowman

With the advent of the novel in the mid-eighteenth century, the narrative function of verse was usurped, leaving it as a vehicle for the expression of ideas – love, hate, revenge, pity, ambition; of ideals – political, social, cultural; and of nature – land-and-sea-scapes, flora, fauna, artifacts, and humans. At this time poets were exploring ideas rather than expounding narratives, mixing story with contemplation.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (pp. 567-581) is not a short poem, but equates with a short story in length, and in content.  Chaucer by William Wadsworth Longfellow (pp. 679-680) presents a portrait of a poet that could be expanded into a short story.  The Listeners by Walter de la Mare (pp. 906-7) is a narrative belonging to the fiction fantasy/thriller genre and reminds me just a little of J B Priestley’s short story BenightedSnake by D H Lawrence (pp. 952-4) tells of a confrontation between man/culture and nature.  The Hunchback in the Park by Dylan Thomas (pp. 1178-9) makes a social comment, while Boy at the Window by Richard Wilbur (p. 1222) comments on cultural perspectives.  Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers and Living in Sin by Adrienne Rich (p. 1309) provide narrative cameos of modern life, with a wealth of information in a few words.

My task is to ascertain how these poems tell their narratives, and in what way they differ from short fiction, and to point out their similarities. The definition of narrative is a significant factor.  According to Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms,

a narrative is a story, whether in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do…. Narratologists treat a narrative not in the traditional way, as a fictional representation of life, but as a systematic formal construction … the way that narrative discourse fashions a “story” … into the organized structure of a literary plot.(Abrams, 1993, pp. 123-4)

To facilitate the construction of the narrative, poets resort/resorted to the use of several devices, which we have already covered in the previous seminars – those of imagery, metaphor, simile, metonymy, alliteration, rhythm, metre and rhyme.  While the first five are used equally by prose-writers, the latter three are specific tools of poetry.

Another factor that differentiates between a narrative verse and a short story is the obvious one of length – that is, economy of language.  Yet most early narrative verses were much longer than many short stories.  However, later narrative verses, including the long ones, used economy of language, saying a great deal with few words, as compressed meditative poems do.  The Medieval Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Piers Plowman told complex narratives in formal structures, with interlaced flashbacks, symbolic and allegoric sub-plots.  Similarly, many modern short stories use flashbacks, symbolism and inter-textual references to expand the content of the narrative.  According to C S Lewis, “allegory is a mode of expression [which] belongs to the form of poetry, more than to its content … [s]ymbolism is a mode of thought …” (Lewis, 1958, p. 48)(my underlining)

In Medieval times, the function of the narrative was divided – as entertainment, and as the vehicle for spiritual or physical lessons in life.  This function underwent a change during the Renaissance, moving away from the heavily allegoric and epic towards the symbolic and metaphoric.  Lessons were still there to be learnt but they were not the prime motivation for the poem.  Narrative works became shorter and less frequent, as emotions and subjects involving the senses became more popular.  Yet throughout this time myth and its creatures were still used as vehicles for idealistic standards.

In Coleridge’s narrative poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the  mystic and symbolic abound.  Events were governed by omens and curses.  When the Mariner shot the Albatross, symbolic of good luck at sea, with his crossbow, he realised that he:

          … had done a hellish thing,
          And it would work ‘em woe:
          For all averred, I had killed the bird
          That made the breeze to blow.
          (Norton, 1983, p. 569, lines. 91-4)

During his tribulations at sea, including the death of his companions, and his own near-death, spiritual beings both good and evil manifested to assist the Mariner to learn the lesson that:

          He prayeth well, who loveth well
          Both man and bird and beast.
         He prayeth best, who loveth best
          All things both great and small;
          For the dear God who loveth us,
          He made and loveth all. (ibid,
          p. 581, lines 612-3,616-7)

Coleridge used patterns in his verse structure – the first and third lines were of iambic tetrameter, and the second and fourth lines rhymed – and most of the stanzas were quatrains, though there were a few six line stanzas.  The rhythms these patterns set up enhance the narration, especially if read aloud, or performed.

Longfellow’s Chaucer evokes a picture of the poet sitting surrounded by artworks that illustrate his penchance for nature.  The sonnet harks back to Chaucer’s own major work The Canterbury Tales – a  narrative verse of epic proportions in which the characters tell tales to pass the time on their journey of pilgimage; tales involving characters of all classes, and including tales of talking animals and birds.

Read from The Canterbury Tales

This tale of Chanticleer the rooster, who through cunning escapes the clutches of a fox, is a retelling of an Aesop fable.  Longfellow evinces from the reader of his poem all of this pre-existent narrative knowledge, by the lines:

                                            . . . and as I read
          I hear the crowing cock, I hear the note
             Of lark and linnet, and from every page
             Rise odors of plowed field or flowery mead.
         (ibid. p. 680)

Thus a poem can be a vehicle for past narratives, achieved by a touching reference of a few words.  If told in short story form, this character sketch would need expansion of these inter-textual references that can be alluded to in verse form.  Longfellow wrote the one stanza sonnet using ten syllables lines that were a mixture of Iambic and anapestic trimeter, and an orderly rhyming pattern – ABBA ABBA CDECDE – that facilitates ease of reading.

By the closing of the nineteenth century, much poetry had moved away from the narrative.  Walter de la Mare wrote poems about concepts, like Goodbye and Away, but also wrote a narrative verse called The Listeners which dealt with a Traveler’s experience at a “lone house” one moonlit night.  It tells of “phantom listeners” who

   Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
       To that voice from the world of men:
   Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
       That goes down to the empty hall,
   Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
        By the lonely Traveler’s call. (ibid, p. 906)

It doesn’t just describe an eerie moment though.  With the lines:

    “Tell them I came, and no one answered,
          That I kept my word,” he said. (ibid, p. 906)

the narrative expands, teasing the reader with the hint that there is more to the Traveler’s visit to the house than mere chance.  It is left to the reader to fill the gaps.  This is where poetry has the edge on prose – it can tell parts of a narrative, leave whole swathes of information out, yet leave the reader with the knowledge that a tale has been told, and one that fits a bigger picture.  Short story can do this too, although it is rarely done with the same degree of brevity.  According to Dylan Thomas, in his essay , ‘Walter de la Mare as a Prose Writer’, he describes de la Mare’s “elaborate language, [as] fuller than ever of artifice and allusion when it was seemingly simple”. (Thomas, 1983, pp. 110-111)  He believed de la Mare’s

[c]ountry terror was a little cosy, so that you felt not that
som
ething nasty had happened in the woodshed but that
there were quite hellish goings-on among the wool-
baskets
in the parlour. (ibid, p. 110)

Of the same era as de la Mare, D H Lawrence wrote poems about objects like Piano, and concepts like Elemental and Self-Protection.  With his poem Snake he wrote of nature as seen and experienced from a cultural position.  The narrative describes the coming of the snake to the poet’s water-trough, giving a physical description of the snake and its actions, followed by his reaction based on fear of snakes bred into him.  As a result of this fear, he killed the snake.

          And immediately I regretted it.
        I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
        I despised myself and the voices of my accursed
                 human education. (Norton, 1983, p. 953)

With a touch of intertextuality Lawrence refers to the albatross of Coleridge’s poem, and the connotations that accompany it.

          And I thought of the albatross
        And I wished he would come back, my snake.
       (ibid, p. 954)

Of significance in these two poems is a breaking away from the formal structure of verse.  Walter de la Mare’s poem was of mixed metrical patterns, with alternate lines rhyming, and no stanzas.  D H    Lawrence abandoned all formal patterns of line-length, stanza-length, and rhyme-grouping.  There were no rhymes, and the line lengths were often those of sentences.  In other words he wrote free verse.  The line between prose and poetry, for those who need their literature to be placed in neat little boxes clearly defined and labeled, was beginning to blur.

Of the twentieth century, Dylan Thomas specialised in the sounds of words and their interplay to form vivid and unusual images.  Of mixed metre in six line stanzas, with intermittent rhyming, his poem The Hunchback in the Park (Norton, 1983, pp 1178 – 1179) tells a sad social tale of a homeless man forced to sleep in a “dog kennel”. Much of the narrative is implied yet evocative by his turn of phrase – for example “the Sunday somber bell at dark” that tells of the bell rung to inform visitors that the park is closing implies the tolling of the church bell, carrying with it notions of religion, of Christian attitudes which should encompass the sheltering of all God’s creations, including the aged and poor. The narrative is also that of the park, Cwmdonkin Park in the industrial Welsh town in which Thomas grew up.

Read from The Hunchback in the Park

A favourite of mine, Richard Wilbur’s Boy at the Window tells of two points of view, two perspectives on life and what constitutes security and safety.  Yet it tells a tale – of a boy snug inside a warm house watching a snowman outside in a storm, and of the snowman watching the boy staring out of:

                    . . . the bright pane surrounded by
          Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.
          (ibid, p. 1222)

Told with a degree of formality in two brief eight-line stanzas, iambic pentameter, an ABBA BCBC pattern of rhyming, and an economy of words, Wilbur’s narrative is nevertheless crammed with details. His referral to Adam and Paradise shows a leaning towards the earlier poetry, where religion and myth were used as signposts to further meaning, and to strict standards.  Yet the narrative is modern in its use of perspectives and the emotions, the senses it arouses.

Both of Adrienne Rich’s poems, Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers and Living in Sin tell stories – the former ballad in a structured way with rhyming couplets in four line stanzas of regular iambic pentameter stresses; the latter unstructured, with no rhymes, irregular metric lines and no stanzas.  In Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers her life is revealed not just by her tapestry, but also by:

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band [that]
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand. (ibid, p. 1309)

We learn by those two lines that her life has been controlled by her husband, has been restricted.  As she depicts the tigers, free “and unafraid” upon the screen, the reader shares a knowledge of the sense of her longing for freedom.

Living in Sin tells a tale of adultery, of an illicit affair with the milkman.  Rich used words like heresy, sepulchral, and demons to remind the reader of the religious immorality of the protagonist’s way of life.  With words like “beetles”, “dust”, “cigarettes” and “the coffee-pot boil[ing] over on the stove”, the notion of the sordid nature of the affair is underlined.  The final commentary leaves the reader in no doubt.

         [S]he woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
          like a relentless milkman up the stairs. (ibid, p. 1309)

The futility, and the inevitability of the continuation of the affair is driven home.

In these postmodern days, verse has seen a return to its original narrative function although in a much less formal form – free verse, with its lack of structured metre, stanzas, and rhyme.  In The Monkey’s Mask, by Dorothy Porter, a modern fictional genre, that of murder mystery with a lesbian detective, is presented in verse form.

Read from The Monkey’s Mask

(C) Jud House  17/02/2013

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abrams, M H (1993)  A Glossary of Literary Terms 6th Edition.  Fort Worth:  Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Allison, Barrows, Blake, Carr, Eastman, & English Jnr; + Stallworthy (essay) (1983)  The Norton Anthology of Poetry 3rd Edition.  New York:  W W Norton & Company. (REFERRED TO AS NORTON)

Lewis, C S (1936;1958)  The Allegory of Love – A Study of Medieval Tradition.  New York:  A Galaxy Book, Oxford University Press 1958.

Thomas, D (1983)  Quite Early One Morning – Poems, Stories, Essays.  London:  J M Dent & Sons Ltd.

Mentioned Narratives

Alexander, M (Trans. 1973)  Beowulf.  Harmondsworth:  Penguin Classics, Penguin Books Ltd.

Chaucer, G The Canterbury Tales  Trans. Coghill, Nevill (1970)  Middlesex:  Penguin Classics, Penguin Books Ltd.

Langland, W  (1377)  Piers the Plowman.  Edited by Skeat, Rev W W (1869)  Edition: (1958) Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Porter, D (1997)  The Monkey’s Mask.  South Melbourne: Hyland House Publishing Pty Ltd.

Tolkien, J R R (1995)  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo.  London: Harper Collins Publishers.

* * * * *