Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Four Poets to a Cottage

Walk in on them, four poets eating scones, plates
on their laps, caught like teapots in a cupboard. That
room, once the music room, once a bedroom
for spinster sisters, built in a time of family bibles,
angular blue glass bottles, brick chimneys. 
The room now: bar heater, laptop, plate
of softening butter, poets of some standing,
sitting at odd angles, collar bone, ankle bone, 
swallowing cooling tea in gulps, eyes shifting
to the blocked fireplace, the unprepossessing ceiling,
not letting on a feeling that the air is constricted, that
they are the wrong size doll for this doll’s house,
that the chimney creaks, could well be falling, that
in a cavity in the ceiling, a child’s clothes were found.

                                                                        Mary McCallum

It's the AGM of the Randell Cottage Friends Committee tonight at 7 pm at the cottage: 14 St Mary Street Thorndon, all welcome. After a brief meeting, we'll have drinks to celebrate the first 10 years of the writer residency. All welcome. 

I am the Chair of the Friends Committee as well as being a Trustee, so I will be there with bells on. The Randell Cottage Writers Trust is a writers residency in the 1867 Randell Cottage in Thorndon, and I wrote this poem when Kirsty Gunn was living there - an expat NZer who'd come home. She invited some fellow poets to tea and scones and they came. 

Btw, Kirsty has just published a new novel Big Music with Faber. Thrilling. If you're in London, the launch is at James Daunt's on Holland Park Avenue from 6 pm, Wednesday July 4. Here's a video about the book. 

It's Tuesday - so check out a fabulous CHEESE poem on the Tuesday Poem hub (click the Tuesday Poem quill in my sidebar) or go HERE, and then check out the cheesy and non-cheesy poems in the sidebar there. Definitely worth a look.


Claire Beynon said...

Dear Mary - a double/triple/quadruple treat today; thank you! Love the poets 'caught like teapots in a cupboard' and 'they are the wrong size doll for this doll's house. . .' As for the chimney creaking ('could well be failing'), I couldn't help taking on one of the characters myself, considering Randall Cottage sister to my own. ; ) Kirsty's book looks compelling - the vid. is gorgeous! xo

AJ Ponder said...

I agree with Claire - and dammit she used both the quotes I was going to pull as being absolutely fab.
Great stuff. Fun.

...having trouble proving I'm not a robot...

Penelope said...

Are all the four poets women? I get that impression.

Chronicles of Illusions said...

Love this...built in a time of family bibles,
angular blue glass bottles, brick chimneys...so descriptive and evocative of bothe the moment and another era

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks everyone. You picked my favourite lines too Claire and Alicia.... and Pen, they are not all women... two men, two women and all poets of some standing - one of international renown - but I can't say who they are... Fiona K has written a poem on the same event - also not mentioning names... so, there, she's one of them (-;

Michelle Elvy said...

Well I just arrived at this poem after reading The Cheese Room by Judy Brown, and I must say I am struck by the opening of this, in the way that Helen McKinlay points us to the opening of The Cheese Room. The first few words really invite the reader in. I love beginning with "Walk in on them" -- it is quite unexpected and from that point forward we know we are plunged into a visual, temporal treat. Wonderful poem, Mary -- a poem situated in a kind of Wonderland, as I read it. And congrats on 10 years of the Cottage. Fantastic!