Hello, it’s me.

Hello, it’s me.

 

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Hannah Else. I’m a Lancaster University graduate currently working as a writer and editor in London.

I am thrilled to have finally created this platform on which to share my poems, and despite being a little late to the ‘blogger’ party, I can’t wait to get started.

Once a month I will be sharing an original poem along with a short analysis, that will of course be open to discussion!

I am hoping to build an audience for my work, learn from the responses I receive, and perhaps spark interest in those of you who want to enjoy reading or writing poetry.

Thank you for reading, and keep your eyes peeled for the next post! xxx

The Dance

The Dance

He’s picked again
to demonstrate.
Every girl and every boy
in awe
as he strides to the front
in his Velcro shoes.
Indeed, it is a rare thing to find;
someone so perfect, aged nine.

Another volunteer is called for,
Her hand, with twenty more,
thrusts into air
as far as it will reach,
and her face becomes redder
as she resists
the urge to shout
‘pick me.’

Reluctant, but still
their teacher gives in.
And the two are together
at last.
His terrified eyes look for another,
but he’s already wrapped,
trapped,
in the spidery arms of a first love.

They dance, just as they’re told,
and oh, it’s so flawless!
So perfectly timed.
The children watch,
and they laugh –
because who knew
these two could dance so well?
Let go now

comes a voice.
And she does;
for she knows that
all dreams must end,
eventually.
She kisses his shaking hands
and returns to her seat,
complete.

And for the rest of the day,
she doesn’t let go
of his hand, or his arm.
His shirt,
or his leg.
Because when you love someone,
you can’t let them go.
That’s what mum said, anyway.

 

This poem, believe it or not, is based on a true childhood tale of mine. I’ve used this story as a comedic tool in various creative writing classes over the years, and the final challenge was to turn it into a poem. So here it is!

Here’s a brief overview of the real story – which hopefully will shed a little more light on the piece you’ve just read. I was in year five, and I had an embarrassingly enormous crush on this poor boy in my class (I won’t share his name. He probably remembers this day as clearly as I do). At that age I didn’t really understand personal boundaries, and I also didn’t seem to understand that just because I liked a boy, it wouldn’t necessarily mean he was going to like me, too.

The boy (let’s call him Bob) had successfully avoided physical contact with me throughout most of the school year, but unfortunately for him, a one-off ballroom dancing lesson in P.E meant he was forcefully partnered up with ME, the only girl in the class who could match his height. It’s funny now, but at the time (as I’m sure you can imagine) it was completely mortifying for Bob, and a dream come true for myself.

So, there’s the story. Here’s a little more information about the poem itself.

I chose not to use first person here, not only because I’m deeply embarrassed but also because I felt the piece was more about looking back on the event rather than re-living it. Because why would I want to do that?! I tried to add a little naivety to the narrative voice too, perhaps to give more of an insight into the character. E.g. “that’s what mum said, anyway”.

Reading further into the poem you may notice how that character has overlooked certain elements of the story. For example, when “the children watch, and they laugh”, they are clearly laughing at the expense of the character, not because the pair “could dance so well”. You’ll also notice that while there are certain notions of naivety expressed through the narrator’s voice, she also has a more adult attitude in some parts of the poem, e.g. “all dreams must end, eventually”. This could be interpreted in a number of ways; the young and old versions of the character sharing their personal feelings in the poem / the young character’s use of phrases picked up from a parent (reiterated in “that’s what mum said”) / me not having a consistent narrator. You decide!

I really hope you enjoyed this poem and that it gave you a bit of a laugh. Let me know if you have any questions, comments or feedback. I also hope you like my new blog design!

Thanks again for reading xxx

Welcome

Welcome

When fire purrs in unison
with those who surround it
spurring on pleasant conversations,
calming the clamour of the day,
loved ones come close and warm
and are locked in its sheltering flame.

Trusting in the light it gives,
longing it to last. For when the night
and the cold, swallow the last flicker,
the thought of tomorrow
masks all memory of today,
and only embers glow to guide them home.

I think this poem has a real ‘Sunday’ vibe. For me, at least, ‘Welcome’ is about looking forward to spending time with those you love and enjoying your time together even though you know that eventually, it will end – like a fire. Nice while it lasts, but is has to go out at some point.

I tried to make this poem almost deceivingly light-hearted. On a first read, you might have thought that the slow overall rhythm and soothing sounds of the words (such as ‘memory’, ’embers’, ‘home’) might have been used to create a calming tone. The sibilance at the beginning of the second stanza (‘trusting’, ‘last’, ‘swallow’) might have even prompted you to read in a whisper. However on a second read, you may realise there is a slightly darker undertone.

The phrase “the thought of tomorrow / masks all memory of today” refers to the sinking feeling one tends to get on a Sunday night! The fun holiday or weekend becomes a distant memory soon enough, and before you know it you’re back at work*. “Only embers glow” tells a similar story – there are still memories of fond times and “pleasant conversations”, but are soon forgotten until a new fire (or new memory) is made.

No matter how you interpreted this piece, I really hope you enjoyed reading it along with my self-analysis. Let me know if you have any questions! Here’s one from me:

Why do you think I titled this poem ‘Welcome’?

*I’m impressed at myself for managing to capture this feeling pretty well considering I wrote this poem before starting my full time job…

Thank you again for visiting my blog xxx

Plot Hole

Plot Hole

Wooden frames collapse.
Heap themselves into a pyramid
of splintering spikes.
Plaster cracks, and the brick
turns rubble. Falling like hail
tapping my skull.
The sky darkens
as clouds of dirty smoke emerge
to jostle with the white.

I can’t help but hear the rumbling,
the crack and the snap
as parts join the pile.
The ugly, burning pile
of my life’s work.
As it melts into itself, I wonder
if it will return to me.
I stare for a moment,
but soon, my mind wanders again.

 

I’m back! Sorry for not posting for so long – I haven’t exactly been feeling very inspired. Funnily enough though,  my lack of inspiration prompted the creation of this poem!

If you hadn’t already guessed, ‘Plot Hole’ depicts a creator struggling to feel satisfied with their work. I titled the poem ‘Plot Hole’ to imply that the creator could be a writer, but it is not made clear in either stanza, so as usual is open to interpretation.

I think that although the poem’s main themes are dissatisfaction and irritation, the last line holds a little hope and implies that the narrator is prepared to attempt their work again. Since the character gets over their resentful feelings pretty quickly, I decided that I wanted their thought process to feel almost habitual, as if this were a common feeling they have… which I suppose is true for many creators out there. To show this I chose to keep my poem as two stanzas rather than splitting it into four as I had originally planned. This was supposed to make the poem read a little faster, suggesting the character was only suffering from their irritable feelings for a short period of time. Do you think this worked?

A number of metaphors were used in this piece – materials such as “plaster” and “brick” as well as some nature references like “clouds” and “hail”. I used the materials so that there was less certainty about the narrator’s creations, e.g. the “wooden frames” might suggest an easel, implying they are an artist, whereas the “brick” would suggest a builder. Either way, solid, recognisable materials helped the poem become more of a visual piece. The weather references were used for a different effect. The “dirty smoke” jostling “with the white” was supposed to symbolise the narrator’s thoughts, good and bad, fighting to be at the forefront of his mind. I thought that linking this to weather would imply that the thoughts are unpredictable and erratic, since the weather often possesses these qualities!

I hope you all enjoyed reading – let me know if you have any questions. Meanwhile, some questions from me to you:

How did you feel about the narrator’s fluctuating thoughts? Should they have stayed distressed for longer?

Did you feel that the metaphor of a “burning pile” helped explore the feeling of frustration?

Thanks so much for reading xxx

Invisible Ones

Invisible Ones

The outside calls to us
while we chain and padlock
ourselves to the quiet places.
Dark places that even tiny wisps
of light won’t find. Shut our eyes
to make it darker still. We tie
our legs to our wrists
our heads to our knees.

And our minds; we wrap
tight. A bandage for the wound,
hidden away so that those thoughts
won’t ooze out.
Silence swallows us, sometimes.
And when a voice
pleads us, again, for escape
we bind it even tighter.

This month I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health. So many of my friends struggle with mental health issues, and I’ve always felt like I know too little about it to offer any useful guidance.

This poem was an experiment into the mind of somebody feeling trapped, but willingly so. It’s about someone trying to make themselves feel small and invisible, despite knowing they don’t have to and that people are trying to help them. Though this may seem a little controversial, this was a genuine attempt to help myself understand how people with these struggles can feel.

Other than that, I don’t think I need to do much more explanation. I didn’t experiment with form or style, voice or tone – I wanted to communicate rawness, so did very few edits to this piece and left it as almost one continuous thought.

Let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for reading xxx

Acting Astraea

Acting Astraea

every sin dissipates to blank space
and the world is gentle, soft sand

(when we embrace, we feel it)
and we are full. Of air, of life

of love. We are bursting.
Every sound we hear is sweet

as birdsong, and light as clouds.
We are a harmony with it all,
making music.

I stare gladly
at our plentiful time.

Celebrate the newness that comes
with every
single
step

We find places that are filled,
like us, with the greatest sounds

and gentlest things;
that unmistakable taste

 

This poem was an experimental one to say the least, but I’m hopeful that my messing around with the form had the right effect. I tried to make this piece read as a monologue by having various inconsistencies throughout, such as line lengths, caesuras, numerous examples of  enjambment and irregular capitalisation. In my mind, this helped the stanzas flow and tie the entire piece together, but also allowed them to occasionally make sense as stand-alone separate thoughts.

Since the poem might first appear as lovely-dovey and potentially a bit wet, I made sure to add a new element to it by experimenting with my title. Astraea is the Greek Goddess of innocence and purity (among other things) so I decided to use her name in my title to allow readers to ponder the overriding theme in a little more depth. I wanted there to be an underlying tone of fabrication and make-believe; almost a feeling of ‘too-good-to-be-true’. The narrator is ‘Acting Astraea’ unknowingly, and is so blindly in love that they cannot see the falseness residing underneath their seemingly perfect happiness*.

Examples of this covertly one-sided relationship can be seen in a few of the stanzas – even the first line “every sin dissipates” suggests that once, there were sins, and having the verb in the present tense suggests that they are still disappearing (i.e. not completely gone). Additionally, the line “I stare gladly” could represent loneliness and isolation as the narrator chooses not to use the plural pronoun “we”, implying that only they are content with the prospect of a lifetime with the other.

I ended the poem without punctuation or a satisfying final line because I wanted the reader to decide their own ending. Is the narrator interrupted in their thoughts and eventually told the truth about their fantastical love? Are they simply trailing off, completely immersed in their fictitious happiness? I’m not even sure if I’ve decided for myself…

I hope you enjoyed this experimental piece. There’s so much more to say about it but I wouldn’t want to bore you!

Some questions from me:

How did you feel about the ending? What is the narrator feeling?
Did you pick up on the natural imagery? What could this represent?

Thank you so much for reading xxx

*Disclaimer: if anyone knows me personally and is wondering whether this is a representation of my own relationship, please do not worry, we’re fine!

Slow Motion

Slow Motion

If I’d only one wish
I’d wish for time.
For all our hours to roll into none
so we could finally bask
in the glorious moments
for longer than they last.
I’d want the minutes to never start
or stop. The tick of a clock to be lost.
So we could be one, never-ending,
continuous love.

I’ll put my ‘hands’ up and admit that I tend to write a lot of poems about time, but I wanted to post this since it massively reflects how I’m feeling at the moment.

Working full time has led me to hugely appreciate the days I spend at home rather than in the office; I’ve always thought that the weekends went by quickly (as I’m sure everyone has), but now they seem to last just a matter of hours! It honestly freaks me out that in just a few short years I’ll be approaching my 90th birthday.

This poem is relatively simple and I haven’t used many poetic techniques to make it any more ambiguous than it needs to be. All I did really was mess around with the form a little to effect the way it is read. Having longer lines and using caesuras can make the poem read quite slowly, which is what I wanted here. Contrasting this I made sure the poem was short and that it was all one stanza. This was supposed to reflect time, in that it passes us by so rapidly. I also used a little internal rhyme in “bask”/”last” as well as the line “tick of a clock to be lost”. Again, the /ɒ/ sound is a little more drawn out, so its appearance in the words “clock” and “lost” make the sentence read slightly slower.

Though this piece is more about love than it is about work, I think it can capture a general feeling of longing. The speaker desires a never-ending stretch of time, and though they know it can never be attained, it will always remain a “wish”. This dream-like tone once again slows down the pace.

I hope you enjoyed this poem! Thank you so much for reading.

Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you have any questions xxx

Left in Summer

Left in Summer

Left in summer weeks ago
a hurried, brief farewell.
Like turning pages,
gone at once
but rest in memory still.

A world away,
though near enough
to wonder and to miss.
Counting down
rushing time –
the chore that waiting is.

A minute more,
with fingers crossed
and eyes shut like clenched fists
the weight of such a heavy heart
at long, long last, it shifts.

 

First of all, apologies for my lack of posts recently. I’m sure you’ve all been absolutely wild with anticipation.

I have recently moved to London and started a full time job, so it’s fair to say the past few weeks have been a bit hectic, and poems (though still close to my heart) have been residing in the back of my mind for a while.

Nonetheless, today I bring to you ‘Left in Summer’ which is a poem I wrote just after I left home to go to uni in my first year. It’s not exactly an ambiguous poem, but I think it’s somewhat left to interpretation regarding its tone. I tend to read it in quite a melancholy way, however I know others have read it with a slightly more bitter tone to the voice (the first two stanzas at least). The poem is about waiting, frustration, boredom, loneliness…it’s up to you really. For me, it was about missing people back home when I first went away. The line “gone at once / but rest in memory still” shows that it is a sudden loss (interpreted by some people as death).

Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think the use of half rhyme in this poem is quite effective. you have “farewell” and “still” in the first stanza, “miss” and “is” in the second, and finally “fists” and “shifts”. I think ending on a more secure, obvious rhyme is a good way to close off the piece as a whole. The half rhymes create quite a soothing rhythm, and, particularly when they’re paired with the use of enjambment, can make the poem flow really smoothly as it’s read.

I intended the length of the poem to be symbolic, though it isn’t the easiest thing to spot unless you look for it. My idea was based on the fact that waiting and longing for someone is something that, at the time, seems to last forever, but really the time is going just as fast as it always does. So, although the feeling that the poem represents is long and tiresome, the actual event (the length of the stanzas) is shorter than you think. Hence the final line “at long, long last, it shifts”. Ironic really, since the poem is only 16 lines long.

Thank you so much for reading! xxx