And long-legged beasties! Welcome to dVerse, fellow poets!
Tonight’s prompt is inspired by Paul Brookes. Paul tweets as @PaulDragonwolf1, and blogs at https://thewombwellrainbow.com/. I suspect quite a few of you already follow him – if you don’t, I would encourage you to do so. He is a fine poet, and a great champion of other poets, regularly hosting on his blog and boosting on Twitter.
One of Paul’s latest projects is a series of sonnets inspired by insects and arachnids. I asked Paul what inspired him to create these poems, and he told me this:
I was inspired by what David Morley had said about Les Murray when I interviewed him about his latest book “Fury”: Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: “Fury” by David Morley | The Wombwell Rainbow
How important is the depiction of the natural world in your poetry?
For me, the poet Les Murray is a talismanic figure, and his Translations from the Natural World is my Wonderbook. Les Murray ingeniously imitates and translates the perceptions and voices of molluscs, sunflowers, spermaceti, cuttlefish, cell DNA, elephants, cats, cows on a killing day, ravens, echidnas, lyrebirds and – most memorably – a poem written in the syntax of bat’s ultrasound using ancient Welsh metre. The rich, inventive language of this slim volume still knocks me out. The voicing is precise, instinctive, and never anthropocentric: it is a total inhabiting of creaturely worlds. For my part, given my background in zoology and poetry, negative capability melds with its apparent opposite, precision. My depictions of the natural world try to balance immediacy and precision. When I was (literally) immersed in the natural world as a freshwater scientist in The Lake District, my research focused on a family of lake midges. With a species, you describe and classify it according to its likeness to something already witnessed: you use simile to compare it, and you use metaphor to name it. The Latin names of insects are a spectrum of metaphoric and descriptive acuity. They are little, related images which represent an entire life form – a species (a miracle!) – however temporary its moment of evolved presence. The creature’s unseen worlds are metaphorized into recognition; its invisibility released by simile. That is what I am vying for in ‘depictions of the natural world’, using every sense I can wrest and turn into language. But I prefer to use Les Murray’s phrase: translations from the natural world.
This led me to read and dissect “Translations From The Natural World”by Les Murray and the idea of zoopoetics. In turn, this led me to design and run a workshop on the nature poetry of Les Murray for the Read To Write group in Mexborough, that hinged on the idea of progressing from looking at an animal to looking through the animals eyes, and eliminating as much of the human aspects as possible. As Les Murray has it, “embodying” the creature. All my nature sonnets are first person, hopefully embodying the creature. I picked arachnids and insects and bats because we often despise certain creatures within those categories, like spiders, mites, cockroaches. We make them into things, not animals to better deal with our disgust.
Here are some of Paul’s sonnets, to give you a little inspiration:
This first sonnet is from the point of view of an “Alcathoe Bat”:
Home high in splits, cracks and loose tree bark,
near water. I hear it in two ways. Crash
of tumble. Soft echo in our Hunting Dark.
Trees are Hardnesses in our flying Dash.
I may swarm He may chase me. We may
retreat to Darker and make young. Suckles
in my pouch. Then let it hang, while away
I skim leaves, snatch prey mid flight, food rustle
crunchy backed echoes, always hunt echoes bring
back. Amongst others know it’s cry and smell.
I hold it in my wings, soon its own wings
will learn flight in the Dark, it’s ears know well
a landscape of returning sound, nose scent
of prey, weathered woods, know home’s high ascent.
In dark wet safe. Lowness my leg hairs tell.
If Else moves I know change in this tight Air.
My young molt, as I did, get harder shells.
Company is good. In dark am aware
food with my two long, long noses that come
out of my head, bounce, dangle, flick in front.
Good grub I tell others when I find some.
All will be eaten always on this hunt.
My young eat my waste among mounds
skins, egg cases and the dead. A crack let
me in to snuggle in warm corners fast
settle in your grease, droppings, food for pets
You horrify me with your pure cleanliness.
Live in shittip, I’ll join you in the mess.
My feet smell you first. I may leave my waste
on your skin, or on your meal. I adore
your sweat and dead skin. I make tasty paste
by vomiting on it. My sticky pads for
walking upside down. Drawn towards sunlight,
I bounce back off an invisible force.
If still I jump her or bang her in flight.
So many hers to have can’t stop or pause.
Born into waste, I squirmed, deeper under.
I changed, climbed towards warm daylight, stretched wings.
As warm light disappears I find shelter.
sleep. Tomorrow repeat everything.
We’d wallow in waste if there were no flies.
Praise them, their short lives, work and enterprise.
The Dust Mite
I’m blind and mostly water. We smell one
another out, along with delicious
dander, dead skin and hair. Clamber on
and over each other in dank, darkness.
I cast my skin while growing. Float on air.
I had six legs until my other two
grew. Soon as I’m fully grown I need Her.
We sniff each other out, touch a way through.
Her eggs are sticky. Light alarms us, clump
and huddle together for safety.
Alarm over our nose tracks source of plump
sweet, huge crumbs. Leave small droppings constantly.
My world is what my senses touch and smell.
Maybe you can’t see or feel me as well.
Here are links to Paul’s nature sonnets so far:
Here in the UK, spider season has started. They are finding their way into the house, and I am chief rescuer/remover. There are still butterflies around making the most of the end of season sunshine. Wasps are slower, bees are still busy finding the last bit of nectar. Digging for potatoes turns up shiny pink earthworms, and lifting plant pots reveals the wriggling legs of woodlice. There are so many minibeasts around, and they are so essential to our very existence. Some of them are more attractive than others, obviously. Paul managed to write a sonnet about a louse. You may want to write about dragonflies or bumblebees – but as Paul shows us, you can create a poem about the most unlikely creatures – and show us their strange beauty.
Paul has written sonnets, and if you are inspired to do that, go ahead. However, if you want to use a different form, or stick with free verse, that’s fine too.
- Write your poem
- Link it up to Mr Linky
- Creep and crawl through some great poems – or maybe you’ll flutter and float!
- Enjoy yourself!
Sarah is not able to be with us…..so I’m stepping in to chat for a while and read some amazing posts, I’m sure.
I’m currently in Provincetown which is at the very tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We come here every year for two glorious weeks in September….it’s a magical place.
Post away….looking forward to seeing many of you here at the pub!
Hi Lillian, Cape Cod sounds wonderful! The perfect place to enjoy some un-disturbed reading 🙂
I will be heading off to bed soon, so I won’t be around too long tonight, but as ever, I’ll be back to read in the morning.
Sleep well! See you in the morning! There will be strong coffee at the pub ready for you!
That sounds fantastic, Lillian: cheers! ☕️
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Hello Sarah, nice prompt and great inspiration. I didn’t think I would have the time to read, but I had a picture I took while out walking during the weekend that I thought fitted well.
Bjorn: Please check your email about Sarah! It’s important..
I’m hosting until 4 PM today….then will be in and out tomorrow to help out.
hmmmm…. did my welcome post?
Lillian here, trying again. Sarah is unable to be with us so I’m stepping in for a bit. Looking forward to chatting with many of you and reading your posts to this wonderful prompt!
Lillian here. Sarah is unable to be with us so I’m stepping in for a bit. Looking forward to reading your posts for this fabulous prompt!
I’m currently in Provincetown, which is at the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We come here every year for two glorious weeks in September. You’ll see a photo taken this morning from here….
Post away folks!
HILARIOUS! Now there are three welcomes from me….third time’s the charm?
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Bjorn, check your email about Sarah.
Well Lilian/Sarah, interesting prompt. This will require I do some analytical introspection to see if I can find my “inner bug”. Not certain when or if I can get there, but I will try… (he writes, somewhat perplexed.) 🤔
Well, don’t let me bug you Rob….but I do hope you’ll give it a whirling whirring buzzing try! 🙂
Good to see you here!
Well, I came up with something, but it’s not so creepy crawly — it’s more beauty fly-ee.
great prompt my inner arachnid has been eaten by her young. puts a new mening to nibbles at the bar. will catch up read in the morning. good night all and don’t let the bed bugs bite.
nibbles at the bar!!! Harumph! See you in the AM….hot coffee available at the pub!
Hello Lillian, Sarah, and All. Late to the party as I was getting my hair done. Lillian, thank you for hosting today. Sarah, I got past the squeam (combo of scream + squeamish) factor to write a poem. Looking forward to see what creepie crawlies will be found on the poetry trail today. Lillian, will you please pour me an iced cold pint of Magners?
Magners coming right up! Good to see you here…..I just couldn’t go the creepie crawlie way when here in beautiful Ptown, hearing the ocean waves hitting the shore near our deck! But enjoying everyone else’s posts that…yep….are creeping me out a bit! 🙂
I don’t blame you a bit, Lillian. Glad you are enjoying your lovely surroundings. Thanks for the Magners and Cheers!
great detail and links in the prompt thanks Sarah! Appreciate you hosting while on holidays thanks Lillian … couldn’t let a creepy crawly opportunity go unheard!
Nice to see you here! I’m going to end up being the only squeamish one too bugged out to go the creepie crawlie route but still going with the first person nature post 🙂
you are a treat Lillian, love your GSOH!
Must leave the pub. BUT the door is slightly ajar so come on in EXCEPT don’t let in any creepie crawlies except the ones you post! 🙂 Will be back tomorrow to enjoy more of your posts.
Jane Swanson, if you see this, when I clicked on your name in Mr. Linky, no poem showed up.
OK I see you reposted and that one did show up. I will delete the “empty” one from Mr. Linky.
Great prompt. Looking forward to getting stuck in!
I really like the poem about the housefly!
Interesting prompt – I had an encounter today, so I decided to write about this lovely bug. It’s late here so I will be back tomorrow to read when my eyes have rested.
Brightest dreams dear poets
Hello all. Thanks for the ideas and the company.
Jewish Young Professional "JYP" said:
I’m ordering a grasshopper in honor of the prompt!
Thank you Sarah, for the links, the inspiration and the prompt – creepies are so vital to our environmental health and I love them all.
Thanks for this prompt. To take on the spider’s POV was fun. Hope I don’t scare anyone with this one.
Thanks, Lillian, Thanks, Sarah.
I’ll take a hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows tonight. Thanks a bunch. Calling it an early night. Hope your day is fantastic, ya’ all. xo