Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Lower Jaw Trick - Simon Currie

So I remembered literally a couple of days before the event that there was a Poetry Business writing workshop on last Saturday so I decided to bite the bullet, book a place and pay the man. I'm glad I did as I actually had a brilliant session and wrote more in a matter of hours than I've been able to make myself in months. I will be sure to put some of it up on here once I've type them up.

The first half of the day was writing exercises and the second half was a writing workshop. All the poems brought along were of a great quality but one of them really stood out to me, so I'm going to type it up here and hope that he does not mind...

The Lower Jaw Trick - Simon Currie

That move, accomplished only once,
when, comfortably seated, shot-gun cocked,
cartridge loaded, muzzle in your mouth,
you pull the trigger with a big toe (either will do).
My son, who knows about such things, tells me
it takes off all your head above the lower jaw.

The sound will bring anyone in earshot
to find a colourful scene:
blood and brains up the wall,
you, sat on your chair insensate,
natty moustache gone forever,
the smile wiped off your face.

The nearest I have got to such a sight
is when my mother took me to visit an aunt
whose pressure cooker had blown up,
a grain of barley stuck in the safety valve.
Walls and ceiling were draped in fronds of leek,
a pattern William Morris would have died for.

Just the look of it is macabre with the three verses of 6 line and as you read the initial verse you are immediately filled with dread at where the poem is going to take you. So when the ending does arrive its so unexpected, bizarre and comical. We all burst out laughing when he finished reading it although I wonder if some of us were laughing in relief that he chose a lighter ending.

It's how we as the reader change after finishing the poem. Go back and read it again, now you knowing where the poem is going you suddenly notice all the lighter touches more like the natty moustache. With no suicide impending in the 18 lines you are able to remove yourself from the subject matter and take a more objective view, the whole thing stops being so sinister.

It is so clever.

There was a discussion of whether he should include 'my son' on line 5, the lady hosting the workshop thought that it threw up uncomfortable questions about the son and his relation to suicide. However I argued that it should be kept purely because of how much more detached it makes the poem. It leaves me imagining him discussing the subject matter over the dinner table with his son and the funnier thing is that people generally do....

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