My Period of Ekphrasis - Sound and Light
- 14:48 The poem is the cusp of realisation, a nervous becoming. Elusive by nature, unsure of its own promise.
19/10/19 - 03:12 I think this was the problem I had with writing in response to a song with lyrics... it seems the poem no longer wants anything to do with me even if I begged. But the song... the song and its words haunt the moments in which I am awake. 27/10/19 - 03:02 As a result of my struggle last week with the ekphrasis of sound, I decided to move on to the light. I focused on 'Sarpedon' by Henri Levy, only to be met with an even greater task than that of sound. Now I grapple with oil and pigment, I wonder to myself what an 'opaque passage' means to a painter, I wonder which Levy thought better to use for his oils: safflower or linseed? Was it cobalt salt he used for the drape of cloth that hangs off of either Hypnos or Thanatos... I say to myself ''I would have painted Sleep and Death differently'', these thoughts fall away without roots and I am once again transfixed... not particularly by Levy but by this bizarre language I cannot quite grasp. I'm looking for signs, through colour, through tone, through the frame, Zeus, the moon, the pink that found its way between white and blue... all this while I am sitting on the floor in Musee d'Orsay, the humans are shuffling around me awkwardly and continue to take their pictures before moving to the next painting... I look down at the page and it is poemless. I start to envy the transferability of lyrics in a song. *** I return home defeated by a painting. I start to research on all fronts, wrestling with words, dictionaries, and websites... I change the colour of my pen, open more tabs, flick through more pages, make some green tea... I even add ginger... I remain poemless... but at least my notes are colourful.
- 03:17 I have no defense. There is a palpable pleasure I find in this frustration. I am terribly uncomfortable most of the time. 29/10/2019 - 02:58 Something came... the first draft of some sort. I think I had too many things to deal with. I notice that sometimes I do this to the poem it makes both it and I tired. By the end, it's looking at me almost teary-eyed; I hear a 'are you satisfied?' I reply 'we both tried, thank you for trying with me'. I lay exhausted in the same position I've been in for the last 2 to 3 hours... some pins and some needles are stuck around my feet and ankle, I shake my leg, perhaps they'll fall off. I was scared to go too far into the different things I was hinting at in the poem in fear of tearing it, thereby rendering it lifeless. It's finished and not finished. It may be that the next time we look at each other a new sense of bravery will overwhelm and we start our wrestling again... But for now, one of Zeus' sons is dead and I have nothing left to say. 30/10/2019 - 03:40 I am doing reading related to the other side of my course... I could list many mind-blowing things I have read but something struck me today; 'every book of the new art is searching after that book of absolute whiteness, in the same way, every poem searches for silence'. It is a beautiful thing when someone articulates something you'd known but never voiced. The way I see it the words are not there to communicate any intention, rather they are there to identify and communicate with themselves; constantly seeking their territory, their rights, their claim to the page or book. Words are negotiating the sequence of time and space. I don't really matter. I mean I do, but I have no claim on meaning. Language has been fighting itself since its conception. I want to say everything and I also wish to say nothing at all. On a side note, I do actually sleep, albeit not deeply or for very long, I just happen to feel like talking to you at times like this, I don't seek a reply... no pressure... drink me at your pace... or leave me here too... ... back to this Ephraksis period... I run the danger of becoming methodological in my approach. I have worked out my deadlines - 2 of them due 10th Jan this portfolio is one of them. I have made the calculation... poems per week and so on. I say this but I don't wish to put the words under such conditions. I want balance, skewed to the side of freedom and free-flowing inspiration, but also, I do not want to fail what we are calling my masters. 04/11/2019 - 03:25 Today I haven't written. My back hurts a lot, I think it is angry with my hands. I listened to some songs I had previously heard... You've had it too - where a smell triggers a memory or a particular space in time... Well only today did I realise that Bon Iver is a band, not a man. The song - The wolves part i & ii nests itself for me in the year 2012. That year I firmly believed the world would end and I didn't think it'd be too bad. We are in 2019 and the sphere is still spinning and it still isn't too bad. The song plays and when Justin Vernon (band leader whose name I thought was Bon Iver) sings "when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue" the whole world is underwater, we've all fallen asleep, we hold in apnea. On some faces there are smiles. I know my eyes shouldn't be open because the salt stings my cornea, but my back hurts and my hands are trying their best... so I quietly find my note pad and I listen to this song... I want to tell you what this moment of sound is like... I try to research what an undertow is, what the word shale means... How do I write down the sound percussion makes underwater? My language has run out of space. My language? Are we awake yet? Breathe. It feels like it'll be a good winter... 17/11/2019 - 00:29 I walked away for longer than usual. I was overcome by a numbness that is not unfamiliar to me. I would say I was surprised but I didn't feel much of anything... what I didn't stop thinking and feeling for was the poem, I wasn't scurrying in the dark for a lost thing, but it was grey and there was something to be gained. I flicked through my previous notes and stared at the blank page that followed. This would happen every day for two weeks... I read poems by poets who were more honest and more confident than myself, I wish also to be found somewhere in the words I write, to tell the truth, even though I haven't lied thus far... How to turn The wolves part i & ii plus Rosyln into a poem or poems? I decided not to write. I drank water, had a pancake and an egg, then a few cups of green tea whilst reading Baby I Don't Care. I finished the book then took one of my bench walks (I sit down for one hour on a bench somewhere and spy, I mean observe people living their lives). When the hour was up I went home, had some leftover pasta and watched Friends. By now I have moved on to a wine beverage. After playing hard to get for most of the day - the teasing of a poem begins... My intention was to write two separate poems, one responding to one song then the next to another, then those two poems responding to each other by coming together thereby giving you three poems. One poem is the undertow of the other, the poems are the undertow of the songs, do you see? I've 'finished' them now, the next thing will be to format on a page that is more real than my notebook. People say drowning is a quiet experience... 20/11/2019 - 00:28 I would like to write a Tanka. I know I haven't written in any particular form thus far, but I heard a man play the saxophone and I believe the piece he played was a Tanka. Now, this was not explicitly said or played but I felt compelled in this way... From what I know of the technicalities of the form, typically it consists of
5 lines - syllable count 5-7-5-7-7 5-7-5 is called the Kami-noku (上の句 upper phrase ), and the 7-7 is called the Shimo-no-ku (下の句 lower phrase) I feel when you have many things to say, sometimes it is best to give yourself a smaller space to say it in. Enough was said in a short amount of time... I saw mist and I saw orange.
- 01:40 What are you trying to do through your art? I've seen this question in different forms and I am a tad concerned firstly by how broad it is, secondly by how it could be asked so confidently by the person posing the question, thirdly by how embarrassing it would be for everybody involved if I were ever to be asked that question. The answer is I don't know. I'm not sure I have to know... Many writers, musicians, and artists I admire have previously (and presently focus) focused on a cause; they ruminate on the lived black experience through time, what it means to be a woman, mental health (which I've explored through some lengths but can't say is my focus), politics, gender, even just spreading the message of love and joy... I think it is a grand thing to have a signature or to be known for a certain 'message', but I don't know anything aside from the fact that I can't help but poem. I like tea, colours, Nigeria, my body, James Baldwin, jazz, Frida Kahlo, winter, oil paints, Laphroaig, Kilichi, skin. I get angry knowing human trafficking is at the highest it has ever been, that most of the world is made of water and some people still can't access it clean, that FGM isn't just a horror story, that humans beings can't just human sometimes. I like that you can be on the train and someone could tell you all about their dream to be a skateboarder even though they are in their late 50s, they get off the train and you never see them again, that the world, even though it's at a snail's pace, is moving... I could go on but what I think art is doing, in general, is saying that we shouldn't all jump off a cliff... it is a sort of hope... because it shows that people are still looking, for what ? they are not always sure, but looking they are. I note that I'm being a little presumptuous. I just think it is a daunting question. And perhaps I fail by not picking out of the many things that need to be done for the world and maybe not the best advocate for many movements... So not only has no one actually asked me, but I have also jumped the gun, asked myself and failed to give a sufficient answer. Also, this has nothing to do with Ekphrasis which by the way if I have not said so already simply put is the translation of one art form to another. - 04:51 Maybe two Tankas. A double Tanka. Does that stop it being a Tanka? He sits on stars, says what he says in a language only he and the galaxy know... Also benzodiazepine? Maybe just the one... 25/11/2019 - 02:08 Perhaps the undertow poems were too ambitious... - 05:09 I think I have done it.... sometimes the poem is done with you, but sometimes it lets you back in. I'm going to sleep. 06/12/2019 - 00:22 The Tanka was done. I don't recall the date. It resisted, then rested on the page... little sighs here and there... even now on the page it lies on, you can barely hear it breathe - but breathe it does. - 01:15 I have been more honest elsewhere than I have been here. I wrote on paper today what feels in line with thinking about the Ekphrasis of sound and light. At first, I thought of typing it, but I have not written in what feels like a long time (at least not in ink). I thought it best to pick up a pen and say what I could... Perhaps I'll scan some pages of my notebook... perhaps you would live perfectly without such efforts being made on my part...
Paris has this strange way of being cold and warm at the same time. It leaves the body in a state of confusion... but a type of confusion that wishes to be explained... a type that hurts your back but then drives you to be sat in a Laverie trying to explain what it actually means to fold a piece of cloth freshly steamed. Why does this moment matter? What makes this cloth different from any other cloth? Why will history now know that at this moment this cloth was folded and a mostly human girl whose spine aches was there to witness it? Confusion. .... this leads me to be once again compelled by this issue of light and sound. Why am I so eager to explain that which doesn't need explaining, an explanation no one has asked for? This compulsion to speak, to explain to no one; so lovely, so warm and cold. - 02:39 I will stray away from the initial list of songs I intended to write on. Tonight it is August, and December does not mind.
Ólafur Arnalds - Ágúst. It must be simple - uncluttered. A space in which glaciers and violins can fit. I've expressed what my body will allow me to express tonight. The fog is so thick outside, the world seems smaller... no poem surfaced and sometimes that is fine... a time to speak and a time to not... even if it's only to yourself. - 06:27 I resigned to sleep, and I was not resistant. I thought of the song, of how it fell without complication on my ear... I thought of the truth, then I jotted somewhere on my phone "I am no longer asking 'how does this song make me feel'... I want to know how this song makes itself feel... what is the internal world of the sound... what did it say to itself before it started saying anything to me...". This was around 05:36. I played the song over since I had decided not to attempt the poem tonight. I hoped to dream a dream birthed from it at least but then I started to speak to my ceiling. I was in one place and then another, one thing then another and so I found my journal and wrote what I felt to be true. Until this moment I thought the song to be plain in a very pleasant way and then I realized that it was folding in on its self, echoing itself, it was not I who was this multitude of things but the song in itself. I might wake to be embarrassed by the slight chaos of the poem, but I felt happy and calm when in the middle of it. I feel more peaceful than I have felt in some time. It is not finished, but for now, I am. Rest well if you are still here...
08/12/2019 - 20:49 It seems I cannot move on from the song... I want to continue spinning. 18/12/2019 - 03:57 I do not have a solid reason as to why it has been so hard to write recently... well write this particular collection of poems... I so terribly want to... I write this to say, although it has been some time, I am never not thinking of you. 28/12/2019 - 01:54 I prepared the conditions I feel are needed for me to write. As I have left Paris for a short while, I now have my old space to hand. I am full of intent. I have no inclination of what I want to write, whether it is sound whether it is light but I have that feeling in me today. I section my desk - create space for my notebook... this was about 3 hours ago. I am no longer in possession of it. It is lost. What follows I cannot describe as anything but mourning. Of course, I have everything, poem wise typed... however there is nothing closer to the truth of this period than what was in that book...
I do not have the luxury of time. I can, of course, write in anything, and I feel it futile trying to explain to you why the misplacement of this notebook pains me... so I will tell you that I have decided to write a Ghazal
Light - Ibrahim El-Salahi Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I This form flows between rhyme refrains and couplets. In a part of me, I feel a stream has stopped in its own flow. A stagnant barely puddle... I rarely want anything from these poems aside from the privilege of watching their conception. Tonight from the Ghazal I want a breeze. the rhyme is calcite, the refrain is damp later changed to dream (note 29/12/2019 -23:42) I begin to turn images over, I conclude that light is dampening. I cannot see the poem to come but I can not feel the pain anymore. El-Salahi says there is a nucleus in the artwork. I am looking for it in his. I am looking for where mine will form... in the first couplet? or is it just a word? If I lick this damp will it taste of salt or sugar? 30/12/19 - 03:36 Salt - but not in the way it is applied to the wound. In the way that is added to warm water to easy a belly ache... when this was done for me it worked most of the time but not all of the time. This was the nature of the Ghazal. Not only am I in the space of a new notebook I am in unfamiliar territory with this form too. I realise that I have made life difficult by choosing the word 'calcite' and even harder with the word 'damp'. This here is the issue with abstractions. I myself favour them in a way. I believed white to be of a calcite kind and that this white had the quality of dampness, but to continue in this line would have added an uncomfortable restraint on myself in an already restricted environment. I am looking at my screen, trying to imagine standing in front of this 8ft piece. It is hard. I am robbed of a certain air at this distance. In my room, I breathe too easily. I imagine having access only to capsules of air when in its physical presence. I make do with the unchanging pace of my breathing and place myself inside the cotton square. Each stanza feels as though I am writing a new poem, yet trying to keep each connected. They all feel like they do not want to harbor the same space as each other let alone me. I spend the next few hours trying to attach words to a dream. Traditionally the last stanza is supposed to reference yourself - me. I do not like this. I try to reference the artist himself, this too seems out of my practice. So I have Salahi un-name me in the process of writing the poem. The artist un-names the writer, or does the writer un-names herself? The poem is finished enough for me to sleep. 03/01/2020 - 00:11 The truth is that it is now 04:32. I have been to Japan, Enugu and then LA in the last last 4 hours and now I am at my desk. I have two Tankas and two prose poems now. One Tanka is backwards 7-7-5-7-5. I do not want to leave here, or you... I researched and wrote too quickly to give you the insight into the process as I usually try to do... the last few poems will be left to you to understand or not understand...C'est pas grave. We have not had all the time I would have liked, nonetheless, your air has been a welcomed one... Rest well. Toto.