Hat messages me and, because the Mapuche and literature form the basis for her dissertation, she writes:

The Mapuche people of Chile value language so much that people who possess the ability to use language well are hugely valued in society and one critic says that “words are the world’s gestures” because the Mapuche language literally means “language of the earth”. How lovely is that?!

It is lovely.

And it’s timely.

My course is fine. Fine. But – and I ought to have known this – it is academic.  Of course it is; it’s an MA for god’s sake. I must understand the mechanics of language, and of poetry. I must comprehend the technicality of threading words – must know how to reference texts properly or I will lose marks. I cannot bead them along in haphazard, happy, hippy shapes and lengths and colours and strings.

I must grow up.

But in worrying about getting all technical I worry I may stop tasting words. I may stop rolling them around in my mouth contemplatively, like barley sugar, to test them for weight and size and fit and flavour. I worry that, in observing the rules,  my mad words will morph from fullfat to a diet variety.  And I will lose my voice.

So I am – I think – resigned to – perhaps – Losing Marks. Because writing this way is the only way I know how.  And I think language should gesture and I don’t think it can if its arms are pinned to its side.


For this activity, first choose a photograph, or a film or video still (i.e., a screen grab) to write about. Don’t use an image of yourself or anyone you know personally. Online sources for images include the Images search pages of search engines such as Google, as well as image libraries. Newspapers and magazines are also good sources.

dustbowl 4.5


Posts puncture a  veil of dust,

moth-eaten  gauze and wires

of rust

that bleed into

the barbs and stain.

The earth rises in waves

to meet the sky

heat shimmies a twist.

There is no rain

to settle the soil

The world a blur, sand a mist.

And ranks of posts

as lines of men,

marching on, they lean


into the wind.

Taut strands slacken,

aged and old,

and on and on

and on they must,

as parched earth sighs

with every gust.


2 Responses to “Words”

  1. renaissancerosie Says:

    Can you transfer to a creative writing course? This degree doesn’t sound like your kind of thing & your poetic soul is rebelling – it needs to be inspired, offered direction but to be let run wild to see how far, how high you can go, not curtailed & fenced in. Would you rather gallop on a wild horse over an untrammeled landscape or compete in a dressage event? I always preferred riding wild, unpredictable, fast horses over dressage any day. xx

  2. Neil Morrison Says:

    What a truly cracking poem!! Evokes a bit of WW1. And it shouldn’t be an either/or – 3 Day Eventing is a wonderful compromise, but does the MA cover all the disciplines?

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