A brush with Kim

8 Oct

We started with an American sentence – 17 syllables – with an encounter with a person.

It’s like an extended Haiku, and for someone who tweets for a living, a fun challenge:

– I ran across the road avoiding a car; the driver shook her fist.

– Jumped into Coate Water to save a child, but it was just a coat.

– The human condition, the past, another country in his diary.

As someone said later, Kim Moore, poet-in-residence, worked us hard in her workshop, Encounters and Collisions, with the right balance of poems to read, discussion (without too many tangents) and work created. It’s amazing what 17 syllables can bring out from a bunch of writers – cockroaches and Cathedral cheese, cockney Albino, friends for life, squaddies and shoe-buffing dogs, phagocytes.

We looked at The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop. It was about an encounter between the casual cruelty of teens and a big, ugly, inedible fish. But like so many decent poems, it wasn’t just about that. Kim talked about the unknowableness of fish. I don’t know about unknowableness but off I went on a trail of thought about nature recovering from the ‘guilt’ we throw at it, but in what way, recovered? Some pale imitation? Some grimy twilight world? Is this less, hope and more, carte blanche?

The next prompt was a cruel encounter. After a tale of gerbil death, someone joked – what’s said in the room, stays in the room. Then came a cat that took the blame and – as I’m sure you’ve guessed – a duck’s head in the toilet.

Here’s mine:

‘Can I kiss you?’ He said.
I’d come in early from the sport field, regaling him with how I’d won a race or some-such thing that was so important I can’t remember it now. Just me and him, a couple of eight year olds in the mobile classroom, me pulling off t-shirt and shorts, him scribbling at a desk.
I do remember my face alight, talking freely and openly, until his question caught me between flattery and fear. The time before I’d drawn him a wildcat. He liked one I’d drawn for myself, but then complained his was worse, and it was worse because I didn’t like him.

Kim threatened us with an apology jar: one pound every time someone says sorry for the state of their work. There’s lots of experienced writers here. I think the problem is everyone is used to honing their work in private – especially so for poets – and so sharing a 6 minute, off-the-cuff piece feels premature. Less so for me. I’m more at home with prose and, sorry (£1) to break this to you readers by every chronicle, by necessity is dashed off.

We finished with a chance brush encounter. I went off for a snack because I couldn’t think of anything. Which was silly. I remembered this one:

I kissed my son goodbye. The back of his head was one in a set of blonde mops sitting in front of their school desk. I turned round to leave – and saw my son, standing. The head in front of me shrunk as I joked and fled.

Kim gave us homework and Jinny said ‘yay’.

Kim Moore’s workshop took place at the Richard Jefferies Museum, 7 October 2016, part of the Poetry Swindon Festival.

Chronicle by Louisa Davison

One Response to “A brush with Kim”

  1. angelblond 8th Oct 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Tried to dive from the diving board but it was just for birds

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