Louise Glück, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature, has said: “Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance… : bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you’ve no longer been bested by these events.” That makes so much sense to me. Sometimes writing does feel alchemical (in intent, anyway!), and reading Gluck’s comment inspires me to share one of the poems where I was attempting to turn base metal into gold…
Acceptance sounds soft curved and yielding,
like weed tugged gently downriver
or the tawny flex of wheat under wind
and perhaps in the end it is so;
but its process is violent, the rip and roar
of a great bear tearing at your startled flesh:
something astonishingly crude and cruel,
an orthopedic surgery of the self
with scalpel slice, sawing, the splinter of bone.
It is a remorseless masonry—mallet and chisel,
the thud of matter shaped to grief’s design.
The impact and recoil leave you stunned,
realising how, at height, the rock crags through
the velvet of grass on the path
only you can walk; staring transfixed
into the obdurate face of things, the hard
impersonal blankness angled to eternity
and dwarfing you—you who are alone
in a wide ocean, on this hillside, under all
of the sky, the birds gone silent and only
the sound of hammering, of wood and of nails.
first published Ver Prize Anthology 2020