Translations and Textual Interventions…

I’ve been rewriting The Knight’s Tale but I’m going to be enigmatic and not tell you what angle I’m taking. But you might like to know I’ve been reading Raymond Chandler, revisiting the original, reading snippets of Two Noble Kinsmen and going on various mind-expanding websites which shall remain anonymous until the piece is finished. Suffice to say it’s great fun, TOTALLY different from the bingo version and is a monologue in a male voice.

Am tired today after attending the T S Eliot Prize event which is always good and was exceptionally fruitful last night. Keiren Phelan, without whose encouragement I’d never have applied for this funding, was the first person I saw. It was a lovely beginning. He reminded me that Jane Draycott was working on a similar project. Then Jane came over to chat! Have been meaning for ages to chat to her about her translation of the medieval dream text, Pearl, and promised to email her and begin dialogue. Also brilliant to hear that Ros Barber has finished The Marlowe Papers. She and Jane have decided we should form a mini society for women working on medieval-Elizabethan rewrites which would involve drinking. I’m game. Also had a nice chat with George Szirtes about finding the time to write. He recommended a six-week intensive – he finds that when translating a book it’s inititally slow then he reaches a point where the project must build momentum. That’s when he needs his six weeks. I’ve booked one week in May which is a start. I’ve always found retreats immensely helpful so the plan is to try to write a draft a day when I’m away. What Roving Mic needs is MOMENTUM.

Derek Walcott won, the first time a Black writer has ever won the prize so that was cause for celebration in itself. It was nice to see more Black writers at the event than there ever have been, Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha, Jan Kofi-Tsepo and of course, Bernardine Evaristo who was one of the judges. Had a great chat with Nick and Roger about T S Eliot’s The Wasteland, The Four Quartets et al. reminded me how much I miss engaging with other writers and that there’s no substitute for meeting them in the flesh. So more of the same, please.

Advertisements

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne…

Some wise words from the man himself from the opening of  The Parliament of Fowls. He was talking about love but could so easily have been talking about writing poetry. He took 13 years to complete 24 out of 120 Canterbury Tales. He died a fifth of the way through. I read somewhere that towards the end of his life, he struggled to maintain his rhymes (or maybe it was some other horribly famous poet). Anyway, I empathise. Have just spent the last two weeks writing an interim activity report for the Arts Council and quite early on came to the conclusion that it’s not ambitious to attempt to write a version of the entire Canterbury Tales in two years, it’s sheer madness! The figures speak for themselves: 5 out of 30 poems in the first year, which was always going to be research-heavy. I spent some time brainstorming how I’d manage to write 25 polished poems this year – note the adjective – and decided it would be a form of suicide. Huge narrative poems like The Knight’s Tale, The Man of Law’s Tale are books in themselves. They need time to respond to creatively. I’m having to rewrite the entire Knight’s Tale for that very reason – I had a half-baked idea but went for it because the deadline was so crippling. I reached such a state of panic I was creatively paralysed. So it was good to write the report because it was there in front of me, in black and white, rather than stuck in my head invading my sleep. Suddenly I saw a positive posibility and asked for an extension. The new deadline is 30 November 2012. So I guess I’d better sign off and get on with it…

ON THE LINE

The first time I travelled to Canterbury it wasn’t by car or by train: it was via literature. So begins my Introduction to On the Line, the anthology that marks the end of the laureate scheme and the beginning of an exciting new era in Literarary East Kent.  So imagine it’s not Wednesday 5 January, 12th Night. The decorations are not being crammed back into boxes, the christmas lights are not being extinguished. It’s Wednesday 15 December 2010, the launch of  the Canterbury Laureate Anthology. You’re clinking glasses with local writers from Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay; congratulating the Laureate Squad on their absolute commitment to young and/or up-and-coming wordsmiths; shaking hands with the junior laureate squad, four sixth formers who are doing their best to stimulate creativity in their schools. The Laureate Scheme is over but the legacy is only just beginning.

You might even glance at a copy of the book, open a page or two and enjoy some absolute gems from the laureate squads and writers who were completely unknown until now. Oh, and there’s some new published poems from the Canterbury Laureate who has an ambitious project to re-invent Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for the 21st century…