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Friday, November 21, 2014

25 Edge Hill Poets: Michael Egan

unsonnet 5


no son for the widow.

one slight.

and the traffic ever ceaseless.

o thine alone, wails or lonely calls.

there’s space here for a soulless sob.

say see with a lisp,

with a child’s eye.

don’t imagine a galaxy’s edge, hinterland.

it’s silent.

no, we’re held tight,

you’re restless,

you’re a bear, only a bear.

half heart.

I wilted. I lately.

one road and a cathedral.

gap and gain and sway.

it reads now as eventide and glee, chance.

it doesn’t stay.

kneel to chant for the removal of chance.

accumulators, that was this morning.

I mean you’ve beauty.

I mean it beats an endless stasis or quiet.

o stasi child.

This is a poem from something I’m working on called Unsonnets. Unsonnets is a rewriting of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. 154 sonnets condensed into 77 Unsonnets. I’m pretty much done with the writing process but this early unsonnet is one of my favourites – it shows how the original sonnets are deconstructed but resonate, dictate the new poem.  Basically I do a rewrite, a write-through, of the original sonnet so I have a rewritten sonnet. When I have two rewritten sonnets I condense them and also write-through them again until I have a short unsonnet. I find that as I do the rewriting I bring in influences from where I am, what I’m reading etc. and it becomes a sort of weird palimpsest in the end, you can sort see the original hidden beneath the usurping poem.

When I was an undergraduate at Edge Hill in my room in Eleanor Rathbone I read all Shakepeare’s Sonnets. I’m not sure why. I was reading a lot of stuff then but I can vividly remember reading them down by the fields, maybe on a Wednesday afternoon while there was a football game on. Or maybe that was Holden Caulfield. Or someone else I was reading. Or a dream. It was at Edge Hill that I began writing poetry more seriously. I think when I first started there I had aspirations of writing fiction but then, probably like most young writers, I wasn’t actively attempting a novel or longer short stories. I was taken by the idea of writing fiction and saw poetry as somehow secondary, something I did but not what I wanted to do or be known for or pursue beyond fiction. Focusing on poetry gave me the opportunity to write work in different styles, to absorb new poets and poetry styles, to take full advantage of the variety of poetry the course offered. I can jump from one form or influence to another, try to learn from them, more rapidly than I could with fiction. My style fluctuated and was fluid. I eventually found a way of writing I enjoyed and I think in the end that style has fed back into my fiction writing. I’ve gone back to fiction now, in fact at the moment it takes up more of my creative time than poetry, but I can see elements of experimental poetry in my fiction – shorter lines, single word lines, disjointed viewpoints, experimenting with point of view and tenses, the linear and non-linear.

I think unsonnet 5 also shows hints of my wider fiction interests – there’s something fantastical and strange about my Unsonnets. I write children’s books, or try to. I got an agent recently though I’m not sure if they’re your agent until you make them money.  Most of the fiction I write is fantasy, speculative. Reality tinged with an otherness or something like that. I wrote a book about a fox looking for god and I’m writing one now about medieval Britain but I’ve called it Beredain and there are vampires and stuff. I did try writing a full on fantasy book for children but after about 70,000 words I realised it wasn’t as good as the books it was ripping off, though maybe it has potential, so my focus now is on this strange half-Britain, which again is a bit like Unsonnets – taking something real, established, recognisable and claiming it for myself, changing it and making it my own. I think that idea feeds into a lot of my work – looking for the familiar and trying to make it unfamiliar, new and strange, writing through things, writing through my own ideas, my own old stories and poems. At least I hope that’s what I do or try to do.

I put most of the stuff I write now up on my blog.

Michael Egan reading while still a student at Edge Hill

You can read my go at trying out Michael's 'Motivist' poetry form, here. You can watch him reading with Edge Hill lecturer and poet Steve Van-Hagen here.