Thursday, November 14, 2019

'Poet, 24'. The first part of Tombland written 40 years ago today

Forty years ago today I was writing a long poem, ‘Tombland’, a topological poem about Norwich, where I was living, just outside the medieval city walls. I seemed to have found my ‘place’ material (as Roy Fisher had Birmingham, Allen Fisher had London, Lee Harwood had the South Coast, I felt. I was also thinking about, and reading, Williams and Olson, my diaries suggest).

Norwich 1979 (photo (c) Heywood Hadfield)
Since I am currently blogging my 1969 diary (see here for general intro, here for 50 years ago today).

Let’s see what I wrote 40 years ago today: 

During the afternoon I went for a walk. En route I made notes for a poem now in Winter Walks/House Journal : I walked along St Benedicts, looked up at the church of that name, over the ground covered in leaves. Wet, golden-leaved pathways. I stopped in Plough Yard and wrote ‘past the agency, the pub, the coinshop’ (Note 2019: I had a Roman coin for my birthday from the shop, which eventually features in my Micro Event Space of this year! See here.) ‘the new community bookshop. 24th birthday. Poet under umbrella, sheltering in yards. I thought how [illegible] it was, now autumn is here that the Churchscape is altered: St Margaret’s (!) added to it, already formerly by trees. Past Talbots Café. And I met the old gaffer from the pubs/Talbots. He said, ‘Are you alright?’ I said ‘Yep!’ His eyes stared. I stopped to write in St. Gregory’s doorway.
            I past {sic} the market, a watery back-of-the-Inns, and visited Tombland (wet leaves – cobbles). And walked to the City Hall.
            ‘A Look at Macedonia’: photograph exhibition. It’s probably warmer in Macedonia now. [There’s a connection between this exhibition and the reading of Macedonian poets I had to read translations at a few days later, a significant pre-history to the fictional poets of the EUOIA. See here. ]
            Home. Genesis of the poem, written as note walking, notes in the City Hall, and once at home….

The first part of Tombland resembled these notes and I may also have written the diary after the poem, perhaps from the notes to the poem.

Read Tombland in its revised state. HERE. I've fiddled around with it over the years, and I'm happy with it (at last!).

It didn’t appear in my Selected Poems, History or Sleep, (see here) but I could see it at the head of a Collected Poems. Which is mostly why it's coming to mind. Parts of the poems also appear in 'Words' in Words Out of Time (see here) but I think they can bear re-arrangement. After all, at some point I thought to 'remode' the first part of 'Tombland' as a Miltonic sonnet.