Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to the Wanderer

Re my recent post about Don Paterson and losing the thread of my Wanderer translation, I'm pleased to report that all the controversy has been absorbed into my bloodstream now and I'm translating the poem again.

Though perhaps I should say versioning, since although many parts of my poem are a straight translation from the Anglo-Saxon, I've taken one drastic step away from the original, with the result that it can only ever be a version now.

Please note though, I haven't changed my opinion of Don Paterson's views on translation. I've simply revised my opinion. Which is entirely in keeping with my character.

Meanwhile, in my capacity as Warwick Poet Laureate this year, I've been commissioned to write a poem on the history of circus elephants in Leamington Spa.

Beat that for sheer randomness.


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Now playing: Julius Katchen, Georg Solti; London Symphony Orchestra - Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, I. Moderato
via FoxyTunes

6 comments:

Panther said...

I LOVE that concerto.

Jane, do you often listen to music while actually writing ? If so, any favourites ? I know some poets insist on a Trappist-style silence, while others are utterly devoted to Radio Four.

Andrew Shields said...

I was once a circus elephant in Leamington Spa. It was 1973. I went to Sydenham School. On my first day there, the kids asked me to speak American, but I could only speak elephant. My best friend was Trevor Baker.

Jane Holland said...

Panther, I rarely write without listening to music. When I'm out at any of my usual cafe haunts - oddly enough, my local Sainsbury's is favourite at the moment, being utterly anonymous and also cheaper than Costa! - I always listen to music on my MP3.

Not always classical, either; more often pop or rock, some from the eighties - 'my' era - or recent pop from a huge range of musicians and singers, from Brittany to Limp Bizkit. My tastes are eclectic in the extreme. All that matters is that the music is capable of creating a blank space in my head so that I can compose.

That tends to mean I can't listen to new albums whilst writing, because then I'm actually listening. Hence my love of older music, the sort that evokes a particular mood but which doesn't require me to listen properly or respond to it except at a very basic human level, i.e. as emotion remembered.

If I start listening, the space in my head becomes cluttered and I'm suddenly unable to write. Equally, without music, I'm distracted by sounds around me, from other people, from nearby traffic, a neighbour's television set etc. And the act of trying not to be distracted interferes with the act of trying to write. Hence the sound blackout provided by familiar music.

If I could enjoy utter silence, and have it guaranteed, that would be different. But I'd still miss the emotional hit of the music.

Andrew, I had no idea about your past as a circus elephant in Leam. Cheers for that. I'll bear it in mind when doing my research next week ... :smiley:

Jane Holland said...

Btw, my mother - a romantic novelist - used to have sudden obsessions with particular songs when writing. One time, in pre-CD days, she had me record 'Take On Me' (A-ha!) again and again until it filled an entire audio cassette, so she could listen to it repeatedly while writing.

I still do something similar now; if I find one particular piece of music is having a strong positive effect on me while writing, I'll set it to repeat. That seems to work especially well when I'm revising poems.

Jane Holland said...

Erm, I should add, that means pre-CD days for my mother, not the industry!

Panther said...

Agh, yes, the Eighties. That was also my era, Jane-I believe we were born in the same year. Culture Club. the Eurythmics. Soft Cell. The Smiths, even-though I can only listen to THEM and write at the same time if the poem I'm writing is very Eighties in flavour.