Hello, it’s me.

 

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Hannah Else. I’m a student at Lancaster University, an average baker and a very keen poet.

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

Twice 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

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It Wasn’t Quite as it Seemed

Just a year into our marriage and my heart
was still, somehow, full to its brim with you.
On a day such as that, the usual; flowers
and a set of earrings that weren’t quite
my taste. You hadn’t even taken
the price off. And for her?

A necklace, that was her taste, and charmed her.
Triumphantly winning the heart
of someone you knew couldn’t be taken
again. But that didn’t stop you.
And I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite
convinced that you bought your mum the flowers.

Each day I’d watch my flowers
as they sank into an ugly mess. Quite
revolting, really. You called her,
daily, and thought I hadn’t taken
the hints. Without the heart
to tell my face, you coward! You

Piece of sh*t! I screamed at you,
and you asked if I’d taken
my medication. I asked about her,
and you took me and my broken heart
to see your mother. Surrounded by flowers
in a hospital bed. Quite

A shock, I couldn’t deny. And quite
the fool I felt. For a while, I held her
hand, and she thanked us for the flowers.
I ate a chocolate from a heart-
shaped box. Then, red-faced, scowling, you
drove me home, said I’d taken

Too much from you already. Taken?
I asked. And I saw her
sickening face as you shattered my vase of flowers.
I’d never seen something quite
so beautiful as those shards of glass. You
left me, staring at them, with my empty heart.

Everything had been taken. You’d given your heart
to her, but I knew you had been quite
right. All that remained of you, were the dead flowers.

 

I wrote this poem as a way of experimenting with form. Some of you may recognise this as a sestina. For those who don’t, a sestina is a poem that follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the six end-words of the first stanza throughout all following stanzas. The final word of the stanza must also be the first of the next. There is always a three-line stanza at the end that includes all six words. The form is quite difficult to explain (and just as difficult to write in!) but I eventually managed this narrative-like poem about a woman who falsely accuses her husband of having an affair.

When writing a sestina, an important part is deciding which six words you will be using to repeat throughout. I decided it would be easier if I chose words that had some different properties, i.e. concrete nouns, verbs and pronouns. I felt this would give me more space to experiment within the stanzas.

Although my main focus was making sure I kept within the rules of the form, I also tried to use some other poetic techniques such as symbolism. I wanted the flowers to vaguely represent the relationship between the two characters; “my flowers…sank into an ugly mess” and “you shattered my vase of flowers”. Creating rhythm and rhyme in a sestina is, for obvious reasons, very difficult, so I avoided trying to do that (though I do think the poem reads quite well as a monologue anyway).

Another important addition to the poem were the small sections of dialogue. Giving characters a concrete, distinguishable voice in poetry is a fantastic way to bring them to life. The woman in this poem is clearly very troubled, and has issues trusting her husband. However, I also tried to create implications that she was mentally unstable. This became clearer in the line “asked if I’d taken my medication”, though I felt the dialogue, showing the extent of her over-reaction could have been a clue to this.

I hope you enjoyed my attempt at a sestina!

Some questions from me:
Would you have noticed the unusual form if it hadn’t been pointed out?
Do you believe the husband or the wife?

Thank you for reading xxx

 

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.

 

This poem was written shortly after I started university when I was feeling homesick. It started off being quite focused, and I could easily visualise what I was writing. However, I feel that as the poem progresses it becomes more universal and could be relatable to anybody.

I used quite ambiguous and metaphorical phrasing throughout, such as “a world away” and “heavy heart”. Despite these being quite common, cliché metaphors, I tried to make them my own by making them flow with the poem in a melodic way. I did this by using half rhymes in each stanza; “farewell” and “still”, “miss” and “is”. The rhyme in the last stanza is a lot more noticeable; “fists” and “shifts”, although I think this adds to the sense of relief at the end of the poem, where at last the narrator is reunited with those they have missed. (The idea of saying goodbye to someone being like turning a page in a book, I’m pleased to say, was my own!).

I imagined my narrator being quite young, even though originally, I imagined it being myself. Although some of the syntax is quite unusual and possibly more adult-like, for example “rest in memory still”, I feel that some of the imagery depicts a younger narrator. I think “counting down”, “fingers crossed” as well as “eyes shut like clenched fists” brings to mind an excited child on Christmas Day! Supposedly this could mean one can interpret the narrator in any way; whether it be a young child or an adult, the message of the poem remains the same.

Thank you for reading!

Some questions from me:
Did you get the sense that this was somebody feeling homesick?
Did you notice the half-rhymes initially?

Hope you enjoyed the poem! xxx

Balloon

 

It’s strange
to think that that
string, sitting beside you,
limp as you are, used to hold
you down like a shackle, and stop
you seeing the world. It’s so strange
to think, that while the life drained
from you, your captor lost nothing
but its purpose to keep you from
freedom. It’s strange to think
that while you bring such
joy, you are so often
left, and so easily
forgotten, you
forget to
exist
at all.

 

The most noticeable thing about this poem, is of course it’s shape. I don’t often experiment with shaping my work purposefully, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to do! (Although I certainly won’t be writing one like this about the Taj Mahal). Before I decided I was going to shape the poem, I knew I wanted to have my entire focus on one object. However, in doing this, I wanted there to be a deeper message for the reader to figure out. Shaping the poem was merely a tool to distract the reader from some of the ideas within it, and like I hoped, many said they had to read it a few times over to fully appreciate the message.

Of course, there is no significance in the balloon other than it being an extendable metaphor for a person. With this in mind it hopefully becomes a lot clearer! It is left to interpretation as to the situation that the person (balloon) is in, but I often visualise them as a prisoner. I decided to leave the poem quite impersonal, besides the frequent use of the second person pronoun “you”. This is partly due to the ‘loneliness’ theme within the poem – I wanted the reader to feel somewhat lonely too.

I used the repetition of “it’s strange to think” to give a sense of wondering to the poem. Balloons are often associated with imagination and freedom (contrasting to the condition it finds itself in here), and therefore I wanted there to be a somewhat dream-like feel to the poem as well as the slightly darker image we have at the end.

I hope you liked this poem!

Some questions from me:
Do you find shaping poems distracts too much from the enjoyment of reading them?
Did you understand the connection between the balloon and the person?

Thank you again for reading xxx

 

 

The Garden

That rubber swing on your oak tree,
the one I’d visit once a month or so,
still swings.

Its rope frayed like carpet,
right up to where it loops at the branch
where I still can’t reach.

The grass scuffed away right under the seat
where I’d drag my feet –
a tiny dent in the earth.

Where are you digging to, rascal?

And you’d dust the muck from my shoes.
Your hand would fit two of mine,
but you’d take one

and show me your greenhouse
that smelled of tomatoes.
Your gloves were hard and crumbled with mud

like they’d been buried,
but the things you grew with them
were new; babies.

We’d go and watch the fish in the pond.
Their orangey skin rippling like jelly
their food, confetti in water.

Then, when the sky blushed its evening red
I’d have one more turn on the swing you made.
Just a push or two.

Wind knotting my hair, face flushed with cold,
I’d swing into the air, and watch
as you disappear.

 

I wrote this poem about my Grandad not long before he passed away. When I heard he was unwell I spent a lot of time remembering some of the details about his garden, which was his pride and joy. I decided to use these images and memories to create a piece about nature, love and loss.

The swing is an important part of the poem as it is one of my most vivid memories. I used this alongside the young narrative voice to give the piece a slightly more innocent feel to it, despite the more hard-hitting themes. I wanted to include a lot of colour and life in the language since this is what stood out about the garden throughout my childhood. I attempted to give the reader a full sensory experience by including not only sight and touch, but smell; “that smelled of tomatoes” and sound (which I achieved by including the small section of dialogue).

Rhyme occurred only when it felt natural, as I did not want anything to seem forced or structured. I tried to make the poem flow in a narrative-like way, despite not having an awful lot of time to develop the characters! To show the time difference between the first three stanzas and the rest of the poem, I chose to split the sections with the line of dialogue. The phrase “still can’t reach” also suggests an age difference.

I chose a lot of imagery that related to nature, such as “babies”, “sky” and “cold”, but I also wanted to make the narrative voice consistent, and so I added fun, more childlike nouns such as “jelly” and “confetti” (the last line of course had a slightly more upsetting tone, but hopefully this made for quite a punchy ending!).

Hope you liked my poem!

Some questions from me:

Do you think more rhythm and rhyme would have made for an easier read?
Did you like the addition of dialogue or did it break the poem up too much?

Thank you again for reading xxx

 

Running

In a dream, I chased time.
My legs were striding
through a treacle maze,
and no matter how close

or far I felt,
I could always see time
in the distance,
just out of reach.

I chase time still,
knowing that it won’t give in
until my own time comes,
and we end our race together.

 

This poem was a strangely quick write, and there are probably parts of it I would change, but I feel that the length and the rhythm I created suggests that the narrator is very much in this dream-like state. Dreams are often concise and a little jumpy, which is why I broke the first and second stanzas with enjambment. I used no rhyme or half-rhyme as I wanted this poem to flow freely and unpredictably, again quite like a dream.

I loosely focussed on the concept of time as a separate, visual entity; i.e. able to be “chased”. However, I feel that “time” could have also been interpreted as being perhaps a relationship struggle or another social event, as the idea of something being “just out of reach” can apply to many experiences. The last stanza, being more of a present reflection, could suggest the narrator’s acceptance that “time” (or other personal struggle) will always have more strength. Despite them “still” chasing time, they know it is useless.

My idea for the last two lines, which again, could be interpreted differently, was that death is where both the narrator and time will end their “race”. For when the narrator is no longer able to chase time, it will stop. Albeit quite a morbid ending, we are aware that the narrator certainly isn’t a quitter, and chases time until his “own time comes”.

Thank you for reading!

Some questions from me:

What was your interpretation?
Do you feel that you are chasing time or time is chasing you?

Hope you enjoyed the poem xxx

 

Butterfly

Resting on my fingertips like a kiss,
softer than moonlight,
lighter than dawn.
I bring you closer to me,
slowly.
Slower than a passing cloud.
You move a fraction,
and I cup my hand around you, your guardian.

I long to feel your paper wings,
to kiss them.
I must resist,
I must resist.

You fight against the human cage,
tickling the walls
until you’re free.

Gone; a leaf in the breeze,
taken with the earth
away from me.
My empty hands, cupped still,
await your return
hopelessly.

I long to find you,
to have you again.
But I must resist.

 

While writing this poem, I wanted to create a strong visual image of the butterfly, but at the same time prompt the reader to consider the broader theme of love. My imagery was largely natural, including nouns like “moonlight” “cloud” and “leaf”; all of which gave a sense of weightlessness rather like the animal itself. I contrasted this with the image of a “human cage” in the third stanza, which represented the power of the ‘captor’ (or lover) in comparison to the insect.

The idea surrounding the poem was, as always, open to interpretation, however I tried to create a sense of longing with the narrator, as well as a feeling of hopelessness. The thought behind the line “I must resist” was that the main speaker in the poem knew that they would only hurt the creature if they were to become too close. At first, they try to keep the butterfly for themselves, though as the poem progresses the butterfly feels trapped, and soon escapes, leaving the narrator lonely again. I envisioned the animal representing perhaps someone who was married, which would explain why despite the narrator’s love for them, it would not be possible for them to be together.

In stanzas three and four I tried to create a slight rhythm with elongated vowel sounds like in “free”, “breeze” and “hopelessly”. This was done to somewhat quicken the pace and symbolise the speed at which the butterfly escapes, leaving the narrator “hopelessly” awaiting its return. I also played with sound in the repetition of “I must resist” in stanza two, as I felt the sibilance gave it whisper-like qualities, which made it seem more like the narrator’s resistance was something of a secret. To imply that there was a human resemblance I used the pronoun “you” throughout. I felt that directing the poem at the reader made for a more personalised tone, and therefore a stronger impact.

I really hope you enjoyed reading!

Some questions from me:

What was your interpretation of the relationship?
Did the inconsistent length of stanzas bother you?

Thank you again for reading xxx

Under A Veil

The first one was a ball.
I felt like royalty.
Gliding like silk over skin
towards a centre stage.
Every camera
begging us
and the bride
to pose, to smile,

to toss our bouquets.

The second, a different venue.
It rained.
And the mud hugged my high heel
like a sticky fur coat.
But I smiled,
I laughed.
Watched them dance.
Ate the cake.

And the iced figurines on top.

Another; in Spain.
We paid for our own flights.
My skin blistered,
and hair clung to my neck
in spaghetti strands.
So I sat with the trees
in the shaded corners,
taking occasional photographs.

The gardens after all, were magnificent.

The next year,
I wore the same dress.
Because who would remember
the girl with a sour face
who didn’t bring a plus one?
I drank champagne,
I spoke to the guests,
and when making my speech I said

I fucking hate couples

And they laughed,
like I was joking.

 

Throughout this poem, I tried to create a relatable and identifiable character. I chose to frequently use the first person “I” to make it clear that this was a narrative-style poem and that I was not shifting narrator. The only other characters mentioned were “the bride” in stanza one and “the guests” in the penultimate stanza. Hopefully this quickly gave the impression that the scenes being described in the poem were all weddings!

The tone was supposed to come across as sarcastic and somewhat melancholy. I tried to make these feelings become more vivid and clear as the poem progressed. I think this was shown by the contrast of positivity in the beginning; “I smiled, I laughed” to the pessimism later on, in the phrase “who would remember the girl…who didn’t bring a plus one?”, and of course the taboo “I fucking hate couples” which revealed the narrator’s eventual anger. I decided not to use any rhyme in this piece because as mentioned before, I wanted the poem to have a casual, narrative-like tone. This was also done by using the interrogative (mentioned earlier) as well as italics to represent dialogue.

The way I structured the poem was quite unusual as I chose to separate certain lines from the stanzas. This was done to make the chosen lines stand out from the rest of the poem and have a lasting impact.  I tried to make sure that these lines were fairly surprising to read; for example, eating “the iced figurines on top” of a wedding cake would definitely be unexpected, guest or not!

I tried to use quite a lot of vivid imagery throughout the piece to build up a sense of the world around the narrator and the things she could feel. For example, “hair clung to my neck in spaghetti strands” is both visual and sensory. I titled the poem ‘Under a Veil’ which gave it a double meaning. I wanted to keep it within the theme of weddings but also give it an ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ kind of feel. I felt that the phrase did this by suggesting the narrator was hidden or unseen.

Thank you for reading!

Some questions from me…

Did you like the narrator?
What did you think about the imagery?

Hope you enjoyed the poem xxx

Our Kite

“Did you see that? Eight!”
I turn up my nose; unimpressed
at your champion stones,
smooth edged and slick.
Mine slap onto waves,
dense and cross.

Your castle, upright, magnificent.
Mine, soggy, fragile,
sinking into itself.
Your kite, waltzing with birds;
a stunt plane display.
I needn’t bother unravelling my wire.

“Hold this. Here.”
A light tug; a dog on a lead
and I’m up, with the fighter planes.
Tearing through clouds,
and in an instant
on the sand again. Nose first.

I flinch, but you laugh
and ruffle my hair like a father.
You tell me to pack the sand tighter,
and voila! A castle. A twin.
You give me a stone to try,
thin as a leaf
and it jumps. One, two, three.

 

This poem was an exploration of family dynamics. I focused on siblings here, and the two characters I created were, in my mind, brothers. I tried to convey this through the use of nouns such as “plane” and “father”, while also using verbs that suggested fondness and affection, like “laugh”.

I used short snippets of dialogue within this poem to give realer, more concrete sense of the relationship between the characters. The opening line included both an interrogative and exclamatory phrase, making the tone conversational and lively. To make this consistent, I used another exclamative in the final stanza; “voila!”. Although this was not part of the dialogue, it helped the poem in continuing this sense of an energetic voice, and through this, perhaps suggested that the characters were young.

Frequently throughout the poem I used contrasting images to create a feeling of competition between these brothers. For example, the opening stanza described the first boy’s stones as “smooth edged and slick”, whereas those belonging to the narrator were “dense and cross”. As well as being onomatopoeic, these descriptions were massively dissimilar, which may have implied that the brothers were too (in terms of personality). I used “cross” in an attempt to form a link between the narrator’s feelings and how he was describing his stones. This was done again in the next stanza with the word “fragile”, as I felt that the narrator would be feeling weak and dissatisfied while staring at his brother’s “magnificent” sandcastle.

By slowly revealing small details about the setting, I tried to guide the reader into where I pictured the scene taking place. “Champion stones” was the first clue, followed by “waves” in the same stanza. (By this point it could have been clear that we were on a beach, however I have found that in poetry, it is easy to assume that some phrases are being used figuratively!). The “kite”, “castle” and even “dog on a lead”, however, hopefully gave a clear image of a beach setting.

I wanted the overall message and feel of the poem to be positive and final. The last stanza saw the boys resolving the rivalry as the narrator is assisted by his brother, resulting in a sandcastle just as impressive; “a twin”. I ended on the visual image of a stone being skimmed across the water, which linked to the opening and tied the poem together (I hope!).

Thank you so much for reading!

Some questions from me…

How soon did you recognise the setting?
Would you have preferred more dialogue?

Hope you enjoyed the poem xxx

Pretending

Framed glass, motionless eyes
minutes pass, and a ritual begins.
Silent, besides the clicks and clunks
of plastic toys with their coloured insides.
a smothering of liquid skin,
revealing a featureless thing,
before they come back in to place,
bigger and darker than before.
A sweeping of brownish dust,
then a pinkish one,
rosy-ing cheeks like on porcelain dolls.
A canvas of colour,
pens, pencils, darting across the page
adding hairs here,
erasing some there.
Machines, curling ones that are too straight.
A glossy red on the lips
sticky like jam,
and it stops.
And into the framed glass,
he stares,
and sees a beautiful, made up thing.

 

In a world where so many different identities are becoming ever more recognised and accepted, I wanted to use this poem to disillusion the natural assumptions that the reader may have about makeup, keeping the gender of the character unspecified until the ending. The poem largely relies on the readers’ interpretation, however until the pronoun “he” is used, it is likely that one would assume the character to be female.

Throughout most of the poem, I used relatively gender-neutral language, besides a few slightly more feminine terms, such as “rosy-ing”, “dolls” and “glossy”, which are often associated with makeup and used in branding. The writing was largely descriptive since I wanted it to be easily recognisable as a “ritual”. I also used the pen, pencil and page metaphor to extend the idea of the face as a “canvas”, and thus suggest that applying makeup is a form of art. To make the poem more active, I chose a lot of progressive tense verbs such as “sweeping” and “curling”. This was to build a more lifelike image, which hopefully the reader could follow easily. The phrase “clicks and clunks” played with onomatopoeia, which I used to exemplify how the character was completely alone – able to hear even the quiet sounds of his “plastic toys” in the surrounding silence.

I tried to make the poem progressively clearer in terms of imagery, using less common terms such as “liquid skin” at the beginning, yet later moving on to something as straightforward as “red on the lips” to make the image more vivid and obvious. I think that building images in this way allows the reader to create ideas for themselves, but guides their imagination slightly as the language becomes clearer towards the end.

I used a basic structure, and mostly kept my end lines to where I thought punctuation should go. While adding simplicity to the poem, this also meant I could emphasise the line “he stares”. This was clearly a turning point in the poem, so naturally I believed it deserved its own line! I also chose to use “framed glass” again at the end, to bring the reader back to the opening image. Similarly, “beautiful, made up thing” linked back to “featureless thing”. I felt that “featureless” suggested that the character did not feel himself at the beginning of the poem, since it has connotations of emptiness and isolation. “Made up” worked in two ways; to mean pretend or imaginary, and of course, literally ‘made up’ with makeup.

Thank you so much for reading 🙂

Some questions from me…

How soon was it made clear that I was talking about makeup?
Would it be more effective to not specify a gender, (e.g. “they stare”)?

Hope you enjoyed it! xxx

A Winter Walk

Our winters were warm,
though we ventured often into glass-clad fields,
wrapped like toffees and twisting
into each other’s arms.
We strode through the white mess of the earth
and forgot
how cold felt.

The air did its best
to bite our skin, and turn us
back to our waiting place;
how we laughed when others went!
You and I were untouched,
ignorant to Jack
and his bitter friends.

Our winters were warm.
But I sit now,
place a cold hand on crisped earth,
feel you
beneath me
and my tears are like ice.

 

A Winter Walk was inspired by my grandparents, who would often go on morning walks together. I decided to use winter since the cold is often associated with sadness or loss. However, I wanted to oppose this idea in my first two stanzas. I created a sense of strength and immunity within my characters, and through this, explored their love for each other. The two “forgot how cold felt” and were “ignorant to Jack / and his bitter friends”. I used phrases like “twisting / into each other’s arms” to suggest that their loving relationship was what made their winters “warm”.

In terms of imagery, “glass clad fields” glorified the wintery setting, suggesting it was beautiful and delicate rather than bitter. In the first stanza I also used “wrapped like toffees” to suggest a sweetness in the relationship, as well as adding a colourful, warmer image amongst the cooler toned ones like “white mess”. Personifying the air with the verb “bite” allowed me to bring the elements to life, and I later talked about “Jack” (meaning Jack Frost), to build on this technique.

Enjambment was used frequently throughout the poem as I felt it created a slower pace when read. I wanted this to reflect the age of my characters, as there was little else that did so. Some of the lines ended with quite sharp, plosive sounds, like “felt” and “Jack“. This was done to reiterate the wintery feel to the poem, and again create a sense of bitterness. I contrasted this with the use of sibilance in “best”, “us” and “friends” to show how my characters were ignorant to the cold.

The tone of the poem in the first two stanzas was relatively light-hearted, which (hopefully) meant that the ending had more of an impact! The last line “and my tears are like ice” brought us back to the original theme of winter and created a feeling of discomfort as well as sadness. I also used the present tense to give the reader a deeper insight into the narrator’s loss, particularly with the lines “I sit now…feel you / beneath me”, which exemplified the character’s loneliness.

I really hope you enjoyed the poem! Feel free to comment, discuss and share 🙂

Some questions from me…

How did you interpret it?
Do you think the narrator was male or female?

Thanks again for reading xxx