I wrote this trio of poems as part of my application to university to study Literature with Creative Writing, over a year ago. One university requested a poem on the theme of ‘Where I come from’ and this was my response.
These poems are very near to my heart as the first poems that I ever showed to anyone else, and the first poems I was truly proud of. Although I’d been scribbling away in my room for years, I had to show someone these poems. They describe my complicated relationship with the town I was born in and grew up in, Slough, and how I percieved it as a child. In ‘To’, I remember returning to Slough; ‘There’ attempts to evoke the feeling of being in Slough, at that time, and ‘From’ discusses moving away from Slough as a pre-teen. I’ve moved house a few times, but childhood memories remain constant even when your sense of belonging is confused. Would I ever go back to Slough? No. But it still means home, means ballet lessons and walking to school, birthdays in Legoland Windsor and playing outside in the overgrown trees in our neighbours garden, buying the Beano (and maybe a Fredo) from the OneStop at the end of the street.
we cross waters to take
the motorway north.
Daytime and school
are far away, across
miles of cats-eyes, motorway lights:
the orange, the grey shadows
spider-climbing the seats.
I spy, (are we nearly there yet?)
the inevitable tape
narrating the 2D landscapes
passing. The moon clouds over
but inside the car bright
with words, grey and orange
changes my face cars
pass my eyes stripes I muststayawake,
the journey mustn’t end, I
must not fall
It was British and ugly.
The town-centre was a no-place
of sixties brutalism, crumbling
Victorian schools, concrete cancer. Mapped,
it could have been a
hive suspended, from
the telegraph poles and train lines travelling
away to Reading,
Windsor, the country.
The commuter-line to London moored it
fast to the ebbing
Buckinghamshire hills. People drifted there,
stayed, mostly forgotten
except to Inland Revenue. We laughed
that the poet we would have called Bet-Ya-
Mam hated us, the kids with scabby knees
from the barbed wire left
in the bushes. Slough. It was a home
for unwanted things, the steaming Mars
factory, the sky-line of cooling towers,
people classed: car-salesman, refugee,
Trouble. At nine there wasn’t
a domino-chain of connotations:
home was home, and the red on the pavement
just a ribena no-one had dropped. This
is not where I grew up.
From Slough, then, with the swift gasp
like breaking an icy pools’ skin,
plunging. I learn new routines:
how to run for a bus across a city,
how to walk in a straight line down the playground,
hips waggling, until my new friends are satisfied
I walk their way.
I learn to speak french,
how to discuss love in giggling girl-circles,
how to collect stars for the sloping wall
above my head and dream myself
embraced by their fluorescent light,
their steadfast glowing hope
whispering to the child in the dark.
Hello! My name is Joanna. I’m a student, an aspiring writer, and a bad jazz musician. My current obsession is making sock monsters. I can fold my tongue in half, tell a really good anecdote about being attacked by a lion, and rant for hours about politics. Enough about me.
This week, I’m helping out on a WordPress blogging workshop at a Festival of Literature for Young people – hence, FLY – and so here I am, in the first workshop, setting up a WordPress blog. My ‘normal’ blog can be found at http://anadventureinnormality.blogspot.co.uk/, where I rant about topical issues and various going-ons in my life. This blog will be my ‘writers’ blog, where I post my poetry, ramblings, and maybe even a short story or two (if I ever finish them).
‘Corybantically’ comes from my twitter name (you can follow me @corybantically ). It’s a neologism from the word ‘corybantic’, a beautiful but sadly little used word meaning frenzied, agitated or unrestrained. Restraints are important in writing; they define genres and forms, and sometimes, they’re important for keeping people and they’re secrets safe. But restraints are also the hallmark of a failed society, just as the existance of government is the admission that we cannot create a perfect society, a ruleless utopia. ‘Unrestrained’ is an aspirational term, a dream, a hope for better things. And most importantly, it’s exciting. It is in the liminal, unrestrained places where new and exciting things happen. Corybantic.