The Poetry Place

Sponsor a Sonnet 7

Thursday, 26 February 2009 11:53:25

Thursday, 26 February 2009 11:53:25

Whether with a camera or stethoscope
You explored the possibilities and
Tried to find the best way forward. Your hand
Steady on pulse or shutter: care plus hope.
You used to wait to see the outcome
Of your efforts. Collect your prints or slides
And with boyish anticipation hide
Your pride or disappointment. Always some
Of each. Now digital means everything’s
Immediate.  Not so in medicine.
Time’s still of the essence. You watch and wait.
All those who’ll miss you can appreciate
Now you deserve a little space. You gave
Your time to others. Now give some to yourself.

In the end I changed my usual rhyme scheme and use couplets in the last six lines, reckoning that gave and self were close enough 'half rhymes' to work and to bring the sonnet to a close.  I also want it to be personal and affecting without being too twee or sweet. 

Monday, 23 February 2009 13:32:30

Monday, 23 February 2009 13:32:30
The links between the two things: profession and hobby began to suggest themselves and the one which strikes me most is the way we used to wait for photos to be developed.  Now things are instant.  Most things in medicine are not, so:

You used to wait to see the outcome
Of your efforts. Collect your prints or slides
And ------------------------------- hide
Your pride or disappointment. Always some / of each

I'm still searching for the ending, but the next part is emerging:

       Now digital means everything is
Immediate. Not so in medicine
Where time is of the essence.

I can rhyme 'medicine' with 'everything' and save a syllable:

Now digital means everything's

I'm still struggling with an ending which will bring the poem back to the idea of retirement. I will try to finish this on the train tomorrow or Wednesday and have the completed poem on the blog on Thursday.

Not such a long entry after all, but a lot of thinking time!

Sponsor a Sonnet 5

Thursday, 12 February 2009 17:57:07

Thursday, 12 February 2009 17:57:07

From that first jotting, not much has survived. I've kept the stethoscope but decided to make the compariosn with the camera right at the start unstead of leaving it till later. The hand on pulse or shutter I'm quite pleased with and think the rhyme for stethoscope might be 'hope'.

Whether with a camera or stethoscope
You explored the possibilities and
Tried to find the best way forward. Your hand
Steady on pulse or shutter:

I'll be working on this over half term but not able to upload anything. So the next blog is going to be long...

Sponsor a Sonnet 4

Tuesday, 10 February 2009 12:47:39

Tuesday, 10 February 2009 12:47:39

Having offered to write personal tailor-made sonnets, I'm making a start on one for a doctor who is retiring soon. Among other things, a keen photographer.  I wonder how those two interests might fit together.

A gentle wielder of the stethoscope
Detecting infelicities, symptoms
Listening with quiet
Dispensing medicines and hope

From Brownie Box to digital
The way the simple process of a click
Transforms the ---- with its magic fixes / neat technique

The present / the here and now  
----   so we can live it
Now the subjects of your art

Fairly incoherent at this stage - but what do you expect?

Sponsor a Sonnet 3

Monday, 9 February 2009 15:06:12

Monday, 9 February 2009 15:06:12

Meanwhile, I spotted this: Stuart Jeffries, writing about snow in the Guardian (‘London’s Day of Innocence’ 3.2.09) mentions experiences such as “The sound snow makes as it packs under your boots! The velvety swish of car tyres on unteated side streets! … The way you fingers swell after throwing snowballs while wearing functionally useless woollen gloves! (We need poets to invent names for all these things and write sonnet cycles to their joys).”  Indeed!

Sponsor a Sonnet 2

Thursday, 5 February 2009 14:31:13

Thursday, 5 February 2009 14:31:13

I've just started a little project in aid of a couple of charities. I've offered to write a sonnet a month to raise money for Water Aid and the Friends of Margaret School, Uganda.  The first one has been done as you can see.

I'm proposing to write a sonnet a month from Jan to December.  Well, I know I'm a bit late - but the January one is completed in first draft form and you can see it below.


If you'd like to support these two charities, please sponsor me per sonnet. Anything from 50p per sonnet will be most welcome!  I'll update you on a quarterly basis but you won't have to pay up till December. 


Just reply to this email and say OK, together with the amount per sonnet. (Longer expressions of support are welcome but not essential...)


Water Aid is a fairly well known charity. Its mission is to "overcome poverty by enabling the world's poorest  people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education."


The Friends of the Margaret Junior School charity is tiny by comparison:


Margaret Junior School is situated in the small parish of Kasanje in Masaka District, Uganda, and was started in 2004 by Kasujja Sarah, a retired Deputy Head-teacher. It was as the result of her son, Mutebi Daniel (Danny), receiving sponsorship to read law at Kampala International University, from Margaret West of Shrewsbury.

Margaret was in Uganda in 2003 visiting Roger and Wendy Ford, friends of hers who were doing VSO. Danny, who is physically disabled, was studying at Masaka Vocational Rehabilitation Centre, where Wendy was teaching. Danny had a passion to read law and Margaret, who was impressed by his attitude and hard work, offered to fund his course to make his ambition become a reality. Sarah, so impressed by this generosity thought "What can I do? I can't afford to put my son through University, but I can teach…………."


With her family's support she built a class-room onto the side of her house and expected to enrol about 30 children. Within a week of opening she had 90 pupils. Four years later the school has over 190 pupils, 123 of whom are orphans (mostly HIV & AIDS related) and 18 physically disabled.


Margaret Junior School needs ongoing support and The Friends of the Margaret Junior School was established in 2006 to work with the local School Committee in Uganda to plan for the future education of the village children. The local community is doing what it can but most people are subsistence farmers and there is little spare cash for luxuries - like education.


Since being established two years ago The Friends of Margaret Junior School have been successful in :

Buying the land on which the school is sited

Building pit latrines

Bringing piped water to the school and village

Building a new 4 class-room block

Establishing a Pupil Sponsorship scheme.


In the next couple of years "The Friends" intend to build a further class-room block so that all students can be properly housed as the school grows and the parents themselves have started work on building accommodation for teachers so that the school committee can continue to recruit good quality staff.


Even if you don't like sonnets, please sign up and encourage me!


PS If you want your own, personal, sonnet - you can. But it'll cost you £25 sponsorship.

You can state the topic, dedicate it to a friend...whatever.

Sponsor a Sonnet!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009 11:49:51

Tuesday, 3 February 2009 11:49:51

I don't usually post completed poems here but this one was written while I was away, scribbled on bits of paper and put together for a slightly different purpose. More about it next time.


January. A pale impassive sky is arched

Over the empty wolds; no seam, no break

No variation in its shade to make

Its dour appearance seem less dull, less starched.

But even so it isn't all that clean:

A hint of greyness tinges everything,

As though the sky has not washed itself in

Weeks. Why bother? The earth is hardly green.

And when we come to look around, its true:

This furrowed field is hardly in its best

Attire. Quite casual. As for the rest,

Though striped, their soiled suits a long way from new.

The land, it feels, has seen some better days.

It's rude to stare. Walk on. Avert your gaze. 


Based on many remembered observations rather than one specific time and place. So it's more general, more of a feeling than a portrait this time.


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