nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘counting syllables

harvesting colour – the poems

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After six months of work, I am nearing the ‘end’ of my project ‘harvesting colour’.  Although the main product of all my work sometimes seems to be my basket of hand-dyed and hand-spun wool, the actual goal of my plant dyeing adventures is a manuscript of poems.

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in background, alum-treated wool dyed with rose hips; in the foreground, spun wool dyed with lichen, beet leaves and alder bark

in background, alum-treated wool dyed with rose hips; in the foreground, spun wool dyed with lichen, beet leaves and alder bark

 

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I have not shared many of these poems here, since I want to publish as many as possible in literary magazines.  This will increase my chances of publishing a book of poems.  Most publishers consider poems presented on-line to be already published and will not consider them for their magazines.

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wool simmering in the orange alder water - looks like sky and clouds are in there too!

wool simmering in dyestuff of alder bark

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At this point I have completed enough poems to be considered a ‘manuscript’.  Although I may write more in the coming month, the core of my manuscript will be these 58 poems (60 pages).  The poems are included in four sections:

  • the imprint of toadflax – 11 poems about the stains left in our lives: the red of cranberries on the tablecloth, grass stains on children’s knees
  • take comfort in brown – 12 poems about specific plants and their use as dyestuff
  • simmer, never boil – 10 poems about the home-dyeing process: mordanting, dyestuff simmering in the pot, the chemistry of dyeing.
  • all the colours of columbines – 10 poems about how the colour of plants intersects with our daily lives – the colour of petals in a bouquet, the relationship between mothers and daughters, unexpected outcomes.  In this set are two poems dedicated to my Great-aunt who made her living as a seamstress and my Great-grandmother who used home-dyed fabrics in her hooked rugs.
  • the twist travels the line – 15 poems about dyers, spinners and weavers who use natural plant dyes.  Some of the poems are about dyers I have met through their blogs.

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pink wool dyed with blackberries is front and center ... other wools are dyed with (clockwise) oak, meadowsweet, bugleweed, tansy, lily-of-the-valley, beet root, and in the center, carrot tops

pink wool dyed with blackberries is front and center … other wools are dyed with (clockwise) oak, meadowsweet, bugleweed, tansy, lily-of-the-valley, beet root, and in the center, carrot tops

 

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One of the purposes of making this manuscript is certainly to improve my writing and my poems.  I have deliberately tried to do two things with these poems:

1. pay attention to line lengths.  In most of the poems, I have counted the syllables, using this as a method of improving the rhythm and suggesting new ways of ordering words.  I have also considered various ways of ending lines, looking for ways to emphasise the multiple meanings of some words.

2. make the ideas understandable.  I have a background in science and I love to use the words of chemistry and biology in poems.  Sometimes this makes the poems hard to understand.  I am trying to reconcile the two poets within me – one who wants to explore the technical and the other who wants to understand the everyday.

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I hope I have been able to accomplish these objectives in my poems.  The poems are full of gathering and boiling and simmering and I hope these poems feel familiar to dyers and craftspeople, and honor their work.  I also want the poems to to be relevant and healing for those who have never stirred a pot of dyestuff.

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olfactory memory

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wool from the drying rack pale, new

lifted from the vat, well water

and blackberries, dim burgundy

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the draft of the fibre, the twist

of the spindle, release scent

from the berry patch, the curved space

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beneath the bend of primocane

floricane drowsy with berries

black and thorn, crisp calyx and leaves

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drenched bramble, sweet notes and a lilt

dark against palate, the scramble

for a berry, dropped between stems

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barbed, at the rim

of purple

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DSCF2653_CROP_crop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

October 8, 2014 at 7:04 am

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