Showing posts with label Ode To Eleanor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ode To Eleanor. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Writing of Ode to Eleanor

As a Hallowe'en writing exercise for West Lothian Writers, we were asked to write a piece of no more than 1000 words to read out on Tuesday 30th October 2018, and my brain kind of erupted with the poem Ode To Eleanor, about a young Scottish man who was in a gothic, restless piece of mind over an ex-girlfriend who'd broken his heart.

On the Sunday I sat down in front of the blank page and thought I'd try to write a funny poem in the style of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Recently I'd had good feedback when I read out chapter one of my Aa Apple's Great Escape children's book, so I hoped it might be quite entertaining to do another one.

A friend by the name of Mark Aspinwall had long ago for a birthday or Christmas present given me an audio recording of someone reading The Raven, which I really liked listening to, so thanks must go to him, and in my younger days I often tried and enjoyed reading Robert Burns to myself, even though it was quite difficult to understand, but once you finally penetrated it you were often rewarded with gems of great cutting wit. Thirdly, I thoroughly loved reading the likes of the centipede's long rambling poetic monologues in "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl, to my son, especially places where Dahl bent the arbitrary rules he had set himself, and made words that seemed to have no business rhyming, rhyme.

The first page came out in a happy flood of lyrical nonsense. It was only when I came to the lines :

at least they did in my mind's______,
which had recorded every scary scene

when I realised I had to do the whole poem in Scots, or at least a Scottish accent, as the only word I could come up with to mean 'eye' that rhymed with 'scene' was the old scots word 'een'. Up until that point the narrator was going to be a rather pompous English or American person.

When I came to the lines:

as I heard a voice shriek from the black
“It's just yer maw, dye want a snack?”

I found myself in a spot of bother. It meant a conversation with his mother had to take place. But what about? I had no idea. And anyway, he already had a snack - a fact I hoped the readers wouldn't notice what with all the other crazy goings on. Eventually it became a bit of a telling off about some ex girlfriend the narrator was still hung up about. But I still had no clue where this was going or if I'd be able to continue or end this piece of writing in a satisfying way that made any kind of sense, ridiculous or otherwise. Efforts to find words that rhymed with 'Raven' that I could use were completely in vain, and having a mother that was 'unshaven' didn't seem to fit. 

It was only when I found myself writing the lines:

"Wasn't she the third
to leave you lying in the dust?
It's not all about nice bum and bust.”

that I saw the glinting light of a possible escape route. At least perhaps I could have a bust of some sort above the chamber door.

The happiest I felt when writing was around the lines:

I gasped on chocolate milky breath
and damn near almost choked to death
as I heard a voice shriek from the black

as I think that was the cresting climax of the suspense part of the poem, after which I began to think, "What on earth have I gotten myself into?" and then it all folded into a silly mess as I tried to dig out of the grave I'd cheerfully and unwittingly dug for myself.

From start to finish the poem took about three days.

After finally finishing this my mind was still wanting to think in rhyming couplets. Like when you play too much scrabble your brain automatically jumbles up the letters of words you see, even unbidden. 

It was only when doing the video that the gesturing to the cropped image of Eleanor's bum and bust above the chamber door after each stanza came about, which I probably stole from Noel Fielding's hilarious Goth in the IT Crowd. It's ironic that after reading the poem for the video so many times I'm now more able to recite large chunks from memory, especially aloud to myself while driving along the M8 on my way somewhere.

Apologies to all concerned.