Monday, February 2, 2009

Blogosphere Poetry Slam

Today is the fourth annual
Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam, to celebrate the Feast of Brigid. Welcome! For your reading delight, I'm posting a poem by the Welsh writer Sheenagh Pugh, who perhaps has the best name ever, although that's not why I've chosen her.

One thing I've noticed about British poets is that they seem to use form -- rhyme, meter, and so forth -- much more readily than US poets do. Yes, I can think of some American poets who are comfortable using form to address the contemporary world (Kim Addonizio leaps to mind), but it seems much more prevalent in British poetry. Sheenagh Pugh has written a series of four "webcam sonnets," one of which I'm posting below (with the poet's permission). Who doesn't love a good webcam? (I'm hooked on this one, showing the pyramids at Gaza. How cool is that?) And using the sonnet structure, which is such a strict, traditional structure, to write about something so quintessentially modern really proves that structure is not hide-bound in and of itself -- it's what you do with it.

I would love to post all four webcam sonnets, but you'll just have to pick up a copy of Pugh's book
Long-Haul Travellers (I bought mine directly from her Welsh publisher, but I see it's about to be released in the US in April). Her poems are great, and well worth reading.

And without further ado:

2. Voyeur

When the cam refreshes, a warehouse window
has turned into a point of white light;

by the next thirty-second update
it's a blinding disc. You think explosion

and what can I do and nothing. Watch it happen.
The seconds count down; your gut tenses.

You breathe in at the change, see radiance
welling out over half the screen. Beautiful.

Not beautiful. There might be people:
if you keep looking, you might see them die.

But you keep looking. And when, blessedly,
the update shows, after all, sun dazzling

off glass, no worse, it doesn't leave you feeling
much better. You know what you would do.


teabird said...

One thing I love about this event - I learn about new (to me) poets --

I love this event - please visit me to read Lucie Brock-Broido.

ambermoggie said...

I hadn't heard of her so thank you for posting this. Mine is also up:)

Sheenagh Pugh said...


thanks for posting it. I think an extra "the" has crept into the line that should read:

the update shows, after all, sun dazzling

(in this version it's "the sun", which I hope I didn't write as it doesn't scan too well!)

rhino writer said...

Oops! Thanks, Sheenagh, I've corrected it now.

Rob Kistner said...

Greetings – Interesting site you’ve created! I came by to say hi …and to invite you to stop by Image & Verse for a visit, or just to say hello.