Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sonnet Sunday

At the poetry event in Linlithgow, I fell into conversation with a woman afterwards. She told me about how she used to work in a newsagent. Every week at the same time, a woman would enter the shop and buy a single packet of blancmange. She did this for years and never bought anything else. I thought this was an intriguing story, and the woman I was speaking to told me I should write a poem about it.

Well, it’s Sonnet Sunday, and I had to write a sonnet about something… Of course, my imaginary account of the shop and staff is entirely fictional.


Each Saturday she braved the village store
to buy a packet of blancmange. The aisles
were narrow, prices high. She could ignore
the hygiene of the staff, their filthy nails
and noses running through the cold meat section,
but not their lack of welcome after years
of patronage. She timed death to perfection,
collapsing in the eyes of the cashiers.

Some had thought her crazy. Others spoke
as if they’d never known her. Later, when
the council came to clear her house, it took
an inventory. Nothing much had been
kept over time, but cupboards bore the weight
of decades, unopened, and out-of-date.


apprentice said...

A rather sad piece Rob. I wonder why she didn't pick Angel Delight?

don't get me started on old folk and sell by dates, my FIL drives me mad :)

Roddy said...

Rob, can I just give a shout against these fast responses to ideas. I don't get it. Fun yes, for writer's block yes, but surely in general it's a gimmick too far. Here's for a campaign for taking ideas slowly and seriously!


Rob Mackenzie said...

apprentice - yes, it is a sad poem. A life of uneaten blancmange might be a longer life, but perhaps not a sweeter one.

Roddy - I'd say, yes, and for me, 'Sonnet Sunday' is just an exercise. It's fun, a challenge, but the sonnets that emerge will probably go no further than this blog. It's also a very different way of writing a poem from my usual methods.

Normally I get an idea, or a line or two, write them down and see if more emerges. Usually, I don't get much more, but I let the idea circle in my head for a few days / weeks / months. Then I write down more ideas and start writing again, usually until I've written a complete first draft. After that, it can take ages for me to arrive at a poem I'd regard as done.

So 'Sonnet Sunday' forces me to write in a different way, and maybe now and again I'll surprise myself. I'm told Shelley wrote Ozymandias in a bar, inside half an hour, as part of a speed challenge!

CEChaffin said...

"collapsing in the eyes of the cashiers."

Just love that line. Well done.

Looks like ours is a two-member club for now.


Rob Mackenzie said...

Cheers, CE. Actually, sorlil posted a sonnet last Sunday, so we are now three. The url is: