Hanging on for dear life

Saturday October 7, 2006

A day that contains an unexpected gift is always something special. An un-birthday, un-Christmas event is enough to bring a smile into any day.

A few days back I described the way a fraction of a movie I’d caught on BBC Four had knocked my socks off and that I’d created an Amazon wishlist so’s Graham could choose one or two CDs of Glenn Gould playing Bach for me. I tracked down the movie on DVD and stuck that on the list, too. Blow me down if a generous reader [thanks!] didn’t send it to me as a gift, arriving this morning.

Having nothing better to do, I unwrapped it, stuck it in the machine and sat down to enjoy it there and then. Enjoy isn’t an adequate word—this is a movie that demands hard work and staying power on the part of the viewer. It was a bombshell for me. On several fronts. I’ve been walking about in a state of high excitation and inspiration ever since. And, to my delight, a state of somewhat disturbed confusion, too. Confusion is not always a destructive thing.

The music is of course beautiful. Transcendent. Visually, the movie is equally excellent. As an insight to Glenn Gould the man it was perceptive and moving. And, to me, disturbing in an extremely constructive way. It hit my musical bone all over again. It also hit my poetic bone. Hard.

I have recently been re-examining my poetry and the part it plays in my life. In recent months it’s been set to one side, necessarily, while we were moving and living in the caravan. When, settling into our new home, I woke it up again I found it’d changed somewhat. I think the change is for the good. There is an increase in intensity and a shift in direction. There is also a greater urgency about it, an urge to keep at it, harder and harder, following it wherever it may lead.

Watching the movie brought the whole question of poetry and its place in my life to centre stage once more. Fair shook me and turned me upside down, it did.

I need to spend some time thinking about all this. Hard. And then to do some intensive reading. I have a feeling of tigers and tails about me once more, and I’m deeply grateful for that. As you grow older, the incidence of tigers can become increasingly rare and there’s a natural temptation when they do come along to hide from them. This one I’m grabbing by the tail, and I shall be hanging on for dear life.



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