Messages from the past take many forms: ancient structures, buildings, and artefacts; burial sites; rituals and symbolism; stories, poems and songs shared through generations; sculptures, paintings, works of art.Continue reading
Author Archives: Marian Christie
Seasons and Landscapes: A fortune teller origami poem
When I was a child, my friends and I enjoyed crafting and playing with paper fortune-tellers, a form of origami made with square paper folded in a sequence of triangles.
The illustration below is of my fortune teller poem Seasons and Landscapes in two dimensions. You can download a PDF version to print out and fold into shape here. Folding instructions are given here (or here if you prefer a video version).
A Penrose Stairs Poem
This poem was inspired by M. C. Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending (1960), which depicts figures on a staircase that appears to rise – or descend – in a continuous loop. This impossible construction is named the Penrose stairs, after Lionel and Roger Penrose.
The poem can in principle be read from almost any starting point, and in any direction.
‘We imagine we are climbing: every step is about 20 cm high, terribly exhausting and where does it get us? Nowhere; we don’t get one step further or higher.’
M. C. Escher, On Ascending and Descending, 1960.
When the news broke
When the news broke, we danced. I danced beneath an alien sky. Plants bloomed: I tasted guavas firm and sharp upon my tongue. Trees flung their roots into the air, rivers reversed to flow uphill, stars spun cartwheels, the moon embraced the sun and clouds kissed the mountain when the news broke. Born in freedom, now we owned our freedom. We clasped our hands in prayer with the dead. When the news broke, we sang. I sang, softly, long forgotten songs.
‘When the news broke’ first appeared in L’Éphémère Review issue 11, August 2018.
During a recent constraint-based creativity workshop, we tried our hand at writing a mesostic. If you don’t know what mesostics are, join the club; I hadn’t heard of them before either! A mesostic, I discovered, is similar to an acrostic in that it is a poem or piece of text containing a word or phrase that is read vertically through the horizontal lines. The difference is that in the case of a mesostic the vertical column of letters intersects somewhere within each line rather than at the beginning or end.
Just for fun, here’s a double mesostic that I wrote, inspired not only by the workshop but also a common occurrence in our household. Fill in the blank letters and then read downwards to reveal what’s missing.
Review: Jump Search by Lori Wike
Recently I’ve been reading Super–Infinite, Katherine Rundell’s excellent biography of John Donne, and this in turn has led me to revisit Donne’s poetry. I recall vividly the thrill of discovery when I first read him as a teenager, delighting in his clever conceits and his command of metre, rhyme and form, as I sought to understand his meanings.
Triangles, my new poetry collection, is now available to purchase directly from Penteract Press, who ship all over the world.
You can order a copy at this link: https://penteractpress.com/store/triangles
The Poetry and Mathematics of Crochet
There may be poets who can sit in front of their computer or notebook and spontaneously compose a poem, but I am not one of them. Generally, my poems have a long gestation. I tend to mull them over while doing other things: gardening, walking, cleaning the bathrooms. Crocheting.Continue reading
Which comes first – the chicken or the egg?
How does the formulation of a poem begin? With an idea, an image, a phrase, a subject, a feeling, a memory, a structure?
I’ve been thinking about this question in relation to my own writing. Unsurprisingly, there is no single answer. On rare occasions a poem plops almost fully formed into my head (inconveniently, this tends to happen in the middle of the night). The trick then is to capture it, to write it down before it flits off and disappears like a migrating bird.Continue reading
The days are lengthening. Harbingers of spring pierce through resistant soil; spikes of daffodils and early tulips mingle, tight buds sprinkle thin syringa stems. A few oak leaves linger, crisp-curled and dead, rasping in the flowerbed – but death is a stranger now. Pale hellebore blushes shyly, fern fronds prepare to unfurl. Clouds lift. The air is clear and bright. All winter I have dug hard cold ground, hoed, mulched, dreamed of growth. Now, accompanied by bird song, I plant words.
This poem was first published on The Wombwell Rainbow in February 2023. It is a variation of a masnavi (or mathnawi), a poetic form that has its origins in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu writing.