nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘abandoned spaces’ Category

changing communities

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Last week we went for a drive to the Cornhill Nursery in Kings County to buy a new cherry tree for our yard. Afterwards we took a drive to visit some of the old communities in the area. One of these communities, Whites Mountain, was a rural farming community with 17 families in 1866 (New Brunswick Provincial Archives). By 1898 the community had one post office, one church and 100 people. Today the community consists of a few farms and residences, perched on a steep hillside overlooking the hilly landscape of northern Kings County.

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On the road descending Whites Mountain, Kings County, overlooking the broad Kennebecasis Valley (September 2016)

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One of the most interesting sights on our drive may also be evidence of the farmsteads formerly in the area.  Although Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch.) is native to North America, in this area it is usually associated with human habitation. In the thick woods north of the community, we found Virginia Creeper in profusion, covering the surface of the trees.

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Although there is only forest here now, perhaps the ancestors of these vines covered barns and other buildings in the area.

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

 

first and last and in between

with 12 comments

beautiful notebooks

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This past Saturday, I worked to create a manuscript of some poems I have written on the theme of discarded and abandoned elements of life and landscape.

There are 38 poems in the rough manuscript, making up about 50 pages.  The poems are a study of change.  They include poems about abandoned boats, roads, churches, toolboxes, sheds, trucks, bridges and so on.

I have published a few of these on this blog … for an example, see ‘Foggy Molly’, a poem about an abandoned boat (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/abandoned-boat/ ).

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abandoned fishing boat

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Part of creating this manuscript is to put the poems in order.  I find it hard to decide how to arrange 38 poems so they flow, one into the other, and so they tell a story.

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1. My first step is to print a table of contents of the rough manuscript.  I read each poem through and assign a couple of key words to describe it, jotting these into the table of contents.  For my 38 poems on abandonment, I obtained 27 key words.  Many of these are shared by various poems, but a few are unique to one or two poems.  My key words are, in no particular order:

lost ways, regret, grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, voice, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

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metal bridge on the South Nation River

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2. Next, I put everything into a table, with Xs to show which key words fit each poem.  This does not take too long to do and helps me consider the meaning of each poem.  Below is just a small section of my table:

Poem Title lost ways regret grown over barriers evidence sadness history haunted adaptation
Recovery X X X X
Reason for Leaving X X X X X
South Nation Bridge X X X
Outfield X X
Diverted road X X
Invitation to tea X X X X X
Lane X X
Abandoned church X X

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3.  Once I have the table created, I tally the Xs in the columns and decide which key words are most common.  Key words occurring in more than 10 poems are shown in bold:

lost ways, regret, Grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, decay, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

The words that apply to almost every poem usually speak to the theme of the poetry collection:  in this case, the words ‘change’, ‘memory’ and ‘lost function’ were very common, no surprise in a collection about things abandoned.  Other key words, common to a few poems, suggest possible themes for the sub-sections.

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1941 International

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4. My next step is to look at the key words and see what themes ‘speak’ to me.  I also want to have a progression of ideas through the manuscript.  In this case, some of the poems are sad and rather hopeless, while some show how abandonment leads to understanding, and, in some cases, to new purpose and new life.  From the key words, I selected six sub-sections: ‘lost ways’, ‘decay’, ‘haunted’, ‘broken’, ‘understanding’ and ‘new life’.

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5. Now comes the long work of re-ordering the manuscript.  I create a new document and, one at a time, transfer the poems into their new sections.

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6. I like to name each section, taking the name from a line in one of the poems in the section.  These may change later, but for now, they give me a reference within each group of poems:

lost ways – ‘overgrown …’

decay – ‘left to rust …’

haunted – ‘ghosts are lonely here …’

broken – ‘dry putty, broken glass …’

understanding – ‘the rock to stand on …’

new life – ‘a turn towards horizon …’

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February 11. 2014 'old shed near Charlo'   Jane Tims

February 11. 2014 ‘old shed near Charlo’ Jane Tims

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Today, I will begin a read of the manuscript to see how the poems flow within their sections.  Many revisions are ahead, but this is my favorite part of the work!

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Have you ever gathered poems into a manuscript and did you use any particular method to decide the order of the poems?

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 19, 2015 at 7:38 am

abandoned meeting house

with 10 comments

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the meeting house

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crooked clapboards

doors nailed shut

remember

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they argued

into the supper hour

words threaded, knotted

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violent voices

eyes wool, ears cotton, lips

flax flayed to linen

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over wages paid

to the man who splits

the wood, stokes the fire

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at home, needles

slid, silent, through layers

of quilting

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women forgot their thimbles

pricked thumbs

left blood on fabric

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

November 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

star gazing comfort

with 8 comments

Usually in mid-August, we go out for an evening or two to get a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower.  This annual meteor shower is the result of the Earth’s passage through the Perseid cloud, debris of the comet Swift-Tuttle.  This year I sat at the end of our driveway on the evening predicted to be the peak of the shower and saw one bright and very sparkly meteor streaking from overhead toward the south-east.

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I have waited a while to do this post because I wanted to take a particular photo.  Last week, I finally saw the item I wanted, an old couch put out on the lawn.  I wrote the poem below in mid-August several years ago, after I saw a group of students sitting on just such a couch, presumably waiting to see the meteor shower.

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abandoned sofa on a lawn

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sofa on the lawn

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seemed a fine idea

comfy spot to watch

the Perseids do

their August light show

but

clouded over

we ran indoors

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the sofa became

a sponge to sop the rain

a field mouse free-for-all

dog-eared page

from a promising read

worse smell than fleece soaked

in skunky ale

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epic fail

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'a comet'

May 4, 2012 ‘a comet’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

September 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

abandoned railroad siding

with 4 comments

Viceroy on rail

Viceroy on rail

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abandoned railroad siding

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a  viceroy butterfly, orange

leaded glass

and rows of wary eyes

naturally suspicious

settles on the slate-grey rail

flexes its wings, nonchalant

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as the black bear who

ambled the track

left a dump

of blackberry seed

undigested pulp

or the enthusiastic jumble of clovers

blooming between the ties

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rails are held between the trill

of insect and the quaver

of goldenrod, caught in the crossfire of sun

light focused through

signal lenses

and glass insulators

on unstrung

telephone poles

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turn toward horizon

rails merge and vanish

altered stride of railroad

walking made confident

by the absence of train

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railway crossing

railway crossing

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railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

rural relics (day 10 to 12)

with 2 comments

On my virtual bike trip along the north coast of New Brunswick, I am seeing many aspects of rural New Brunswick that are almost relics in our modern world.

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11 to 12

distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

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8-11  January 31, 2014   45 minutes  3.0 km (Eel River Bar to Charlo)

8-12   January 28, 2014   30 minutes  7.0 km (Charlo to Blackland)

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relic:

  1. object that is interesting because of its age or association
  2. surviving custom, belief or object from a past age

(Oxford dictionary)

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One of these relics is the rural mailbox.  Amid controversy, the single mailbox at the end of a driveway is gradually being replaced, so there are very few end-of-drive mailboxes along the route I am travelling.

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We had a mailbox for many years and it was always fun going to the end of the drive to get our mail.  Once when I was at my grandfather’s farm for a vacation, my Aunt Anna sent me a parcel so I would have the fun of getting a box in the mail.  I remember well reaching up to get the parcel and I remember what was inside – a snow globe!

getting a parcel in the mail

getting a parcel at my grandfather’s mailbox

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About ten years ago, we were shifted to a community mail box.  We have a key and an assigned box.  It is still fun to get the mail, but less convenient …

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mailboxes near New Mills

mailboxes near New Mills (image from Street View)

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Another relic of a more self-sufficient way of life is the remnant apple orchard.  In some cases, the apples are still used by thrifty families, but often the fallen fruit is left for the deer …

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orchard near Blackland

orchard near Blackland (image from Street View)

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I also see derelict barns and sheds along the road, abandoned as people give up farming and a more rural way of life …

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February 11. 2014 'old shed near Charlo'   Jane Tims

February 11. 2014 ‘old shed near Charlo’ Jane Tims

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Do you encounter remnant bits of our past in your travels?  Do they bring back memories?

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

an abandoned house

with 6 comments

On my virtual biking trip along the Sèvre Niortaise in central France, I saw an abandoned house.  Its roof had collapsed, its side buildings were reduced to ruined stone walls and its windows and doors were empty eyes …

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'abandoned house'

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It reminded me of a painting of an abandoned house by Liam Rainsford (published as ‘Abandoned’ on his Blog on April 15, 2012).  You can see his painting at  http://liamrainsford.com/2012/04/14/abandoned-oil-painting/

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I have been writing a series of poems on the theme of abandonment and Liam’s haunting painting inspired this poem:

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abandoned house

            – response to the painting ‘Abandoned’ by Liam Rainsford (April 15, 2012)

stone ruin,

vacant, a shell

disinterested (since they went away)

in the state of the road

or comings and goings

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only the fence posts have opinions

one, a stoic, is the neighbor’s boy,

waits by the gate

one post swoons in disbelief –

roof fallen in, garden weedy,

fields overgrown

what’s a good fence for, but to keep hunger away?

keep people in?

fence wires lead off, toward the east

walk through the front door, into open air

views unobstructed

tree tops, remote hills, expanses of sky

ghosts are lonely here,

peering into windows, entering

the lean-to door

with a basket of eggs,

over and over

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

April 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

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