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

Advertisements

Individual

I am a wasp among bees,
a flower bed’s weed.
The first dead leaf
from the greenest trees.

A cloud in the bluest
of skies. The pain,
when sunlight
holds your eyes.

I’m new; a footprint
in crisp snow.
A baby’s first cry,
a fire’s first glow.

Old like heirlooms,
cherished through time.
Each their own,
and none like mine.

 

The message of this poem is quite simple, but I wanted to make use of several images and ideas to reiterate the meanings of individualism. The simplicity in the poem is reflected through the consistent rhyming in each stanza, and the easy-to-follow stanza and line lengths.

Individualism can be interpreted in so many ways, but this poem focuses on the thoughts of the narrator and their feelings towards themselves. In the first few lines, it may seem that the narrator is uncomplimentary, describing themselves as “a flower bed’s weed”. However, I wanted the interpretation to be less about the actual object being referred to, but the implications of it being different from the rest. For example, in stanza two, the individual is “the pain, / when sunlight / holds your eyes”. Although the sunlight is more desirable than the pain, it is the pain that is noticed, and therefore is what makes the narrator individual.

The last two stanzas of the poem differ slightly as they describe things that are considered more desirable. “crisp snow” and “first glow” have more appealing connotations, however the message remains the same; the narrator feels that they are changing the ordinary. I focused primarily on natural imagery throughout as I wanted the message to be universal.

I hope you liked this poem!

Some questions from me:
Did it make a difference that some of the references to individualism were less desirable than others?
Was the simplicity of the structure helpful?

Thank you for reading xxx

Screen Time

Brain squasher,
you tease and tear at every nerve
hiding there, in my screens
my friend’s mouths.
that busy motorway.

You’ll get me,
close my eyes under your
heavy weight.
I wait
for silence, relief. Alas;

an angry red; flashing.
my eyes clench to resist the glare,
but you surround me.
A cloak of blinding
noise and light. Suffocating.

Eventually creeping through
my skull, where you push
and pull, lay me down
to sleep
but keep me awake.

 

As many of my friends and family will know, I suffer from headaches quite regularly. This poem explores the sensation of a persistent headache, using personification and visual metaphors to really bring it to life and make it familiar to the reader.

I titled the poem ‘Screen Time’ after much deliberation. Originally, the title was ‘Headache’, but I wanted a slightly less transparent introduction to the piece. ‘Screen Time’ is also a common cause of headaches, and the vowel sound in ‘screen’ is identical to that of ‘scream’, and so connotations of pain can be drawn from the title.

I decided to use a lot of visual imagery in this poem, since headaches are not things you can see, though sometimes feel so intense that they may as well be living creatures! The first line, “brain squasher”, gives the sense of the headache being aggressive, and later it’s described as a “cloak”, which suggests a more sinister, hidden side to it. I also gave it a colour, “angry red”, which I feel represents a sense of danger and fear.

There are some instances in this poem where I chose to use internal rhyme, for example in the first stanza; “tease and tear / …everywhere”, and stanza four “skull / …push and pull”. Though this occurred quite naturally, I made the instances more apparent by using enjambment to create a rhythm which would draw more attention to these rhyming words.

I hope you enjoyed this poem!

Some questions from me:
Are you a headache or migraine sufferer? Do you sometimes feel that they act in this way?
What would you have titled this poem?

Thank you so much for reading xxx

The Kitchen of My Dreams

I’m dreaming of a kitchen
a space that’s fresh and clean.
A place you’d never find a milk that’s off
or bread that’s green.

A kitchen that is tidy,
crumbs swept up straight away.
A place to cook,
without having to dread it every day.

This kitchen would have spotless sinks,
where plugholes don’t get blocked.
So plates and bowls can be washed up
(with sponges fully stocked)

A place where you could step, carefree,
wherever you may choose.
without socks sticking to the floor
or rice stuck in your shoes.

I’m wishing for this kitchen,
but alas, today it seems
that the kitchen here treads far behind
the kitchen of my dreams.

 

I’ve uploaded this poem for a bit of fun – it is (of course) about my uni kitchen. I only have one week left of living in uni accommodation, which, while a little scary, is also BRILLIANT, because I will no longer have to be associated with such a revolting space.

I sent this poem into the group chat with my flatmates in an attempt to sort the mess out once and for all, but unsurprisingly it made no difference, and yesterday I found myself retching at the sight of pasta sauce smeared all over the bin lid. It honestly baffles me how people can be so oblivious to their disgusting habits. Things like washing up, cleaning up spillages, and throwing your milk away when its (three weeks) out of date, are really quite basic skills that people should learn before moving away from home.

I could turn this into a huge rant about the kitchen, exploring every single detail as to why it’s so disgusting, but I think I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Thank you so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed the poem xxx

Natural Disaster

Ignorant and deaf to us, our dictator
stands at the forefront. Looks down
at the worms in her garden,
the leaves in her palm.

We’re crushed until almost a dust
and scattered
wherever she wishes;
blown by her own foul breeze.

Her water, strong as a giant’s fist,
slaps into towers and sweeps them
through streets, collecting at last
into a dam.

She laughs at us. Watching us
swim to a shore
before she strikes again,
with greater force.

But of course, we remain entranced,
in awe. As she ruins the earth, alone
with her hands
we will always applaud.

 

Following on from my last post Love’s Mother, which depicted a goddess of love, this poem focuses on the idea of ‘Mother Nature’. Like Love’s Mother, I have personified this mythological figure, and created visual images to represent how I felt she might act.

Rather than presenting her in the more common way (celebrated and loved), I wanted to focus on Mother Nature’s more brutal tendencies which are not often talked about or assumed her ‘fault’. In the poem, I mention some of the hardships that the Earth faces, such as storms, “foul breeze” and tsunamis “her water…sweeps through streets”. I described Mother Nature as a “dictator” in the first stanza to give the reader an immediate feel for the tone of the poem,  and perhaps even encourage some preconceptions about the figure herself.

Throughout the stanzas, Mother Nature is portrayed as an unforgiving, vicious goddess. It was interesting to me that even today, we are rarely accusing of mythological or religious figures when things go wrong, yet we are quick to admire their abilities and thank them for their generosity in more positive scenarios. This poem captures the idea that humans are often so secure in their beliefs that nothing can change how they feel about someone or something they admire. The people in this piece struggle, are “crushed” and laughed at by a higher power, yet “remain entranced” and “applaud” her.

Thank you so much for reading!

Some questions from me:

Do you agree? Are we sometimes blinded by our own beliefs?
Could you tell that the poem was about Mother Nature from quite early on?

Hope you enjoyed this piece xxx

Love’s Mother

Eyes of two lovers meet in a bubble.
They’re static a while; serene unblinking,
and a red thread binds the two; invisible to most.

It has been woven
by a woman with rings on each finger.
Love’s mother.

She knows that each pair has a plan;
she is wise like that.
It must be so if it is what fate gave.

She takes the bubble through a jungle mess
of muds and sprawled vines. And bursts it
with an unforgiving claw.

 

I tried to take a slightly more fantastical approach when writing this poem. It interested me that there is no mythological “mother of love” (that I know of), yet there is of course Mother Nature. I wanted to explore the idea of there being a Goddess of love, and what her role might be if she existed.

The “red thread” image was inspired by the Japanese legend of the ‘red string of fate’. The idea is that a red string (representative of the veins in your heart) is intertwined with another’s and will eventually join the two people together. I used this to give my poem a more mythical feel. While reading about the legend, I thought if love did have a mother, she would be the one who controlled these strings. I played with this idea in stanzas two and three, suggesting that the woman worked together with fate to pair people who would love one another.

The last stanza depicts love’s mother testing the couple “through a jungle mess”; symbolising the difficulties that relationships have to face, and eventually deciding that the two do not belong together. She bursts the bubble with a “claw”, which I think suggests that although a Goddess of love, she can be cruel, much like love itself.

 

Thank you for reading!

Some questions from me:
Were you aware of the Red String of Fate legend?
Do you believe that there is in fact a Goddess of love?

Hope you enjoyed this poem xxx

Sweetheart

That little pond by your house
on Heron Road
where you kissed me on the cheek that day.
Young and shy in your school tie
and me in mine.
We laughed afterwards
and threw stones
to try and make the fish jump out.

One winter I returned, and years had disappeared
like old leaves we tread into dirt.

That little pond had a green film,
and I watched our sun
descend through the trees,
whose shadows on the ground
would surround our innocent love, till darkness came.
The tree stump of an oak that we sat on
had bird crap on
and slowly, rotted with the rest.

 

In this poem I have explored the pleasures and bitter disappointments of young love. The theme of love is emphasised by the frequent use of natural imagery, since I have linked the two together in that they both decay at the end of the poem.

The first stanza symbolises the freedom and innocence of the two characters; the magic of a first kiss and the carelessness of childhood shown in the laughter that ensues. The story is told as a reflection of the past, and I have tried to make it so the reader feels the narrator is looking back on his/her younger self. I did this by using past tense as well as the phrase “young and shy”, implying that the character was no longer “young”. The short stanza that follows makes the aging element become much clearer, as the character returns to the place after “years had disappeared”.

In the final stanza, there are several instances where nature is used to reflect the decay of the relationship. The pond grows a “green film”, the light dims as the sun disappears, and the tree stump is covered in bird poo. The taboo “crap” gives the reader a feel for the narrator’s disappointed voice and suggests he/she feels regretful.

I used the phrase “with the rest” in the final line to imply that their love slowly rotted and died out over time, however it could be interpreted in other ways. For example, “the rest” …of his/her life, suggesting he/she is suffering from depression and feels that every aspect of life is decaying. Another phrase that could have been interpreted differently is “our sun”. I used this intentionally to create a double meaning and suggest that they may have had a child together.

I hope you liked the poem!

Some questions from me:
How do you think the relationship could have ended?
What do you think about the short stanza in the middle? Is it necessary?

Thanks so much for reading xxx

Cold Water

Dirty white, strands slicked back, thick
with water. Icy water, dripping from the blocks
and cliff tops. Bones and blood, scattered across,
staining the white houses, the white roads.

She walks over the white street. It will crunch
as her paw meets the floor. Wide mouth cries out
for her babies, swimming or starving somewhere.
Ice cracks, drips. She runs, panics, slips.

We, in a boat, float. Pan our cameras down
as she splashes and sinks. Wait for others
to do the same – clearer footage.
Propellers spin, warming the water.

Wildlife documentaries are hugely popular, and it was while watching one myself that I decided to write this poem. I have depicted a female polar bear, and throughout the stanzas she is being observed by a film crew. In the first two stanzas, I wanted to draw attention to the vivid descriptions of the animal and the ice around her. This was done because I felt that these are the things that the film crew would be looking for in order to entertain the audience. For example, “bones and blood” might be filmed in a documentary to create sympathy and persuade people to donate to wildlife foundations.

I used several internal rhymes and other sound techniques throughout this poem. This was to mimic the scripted aspects of filming wildlife. This link is quite far-fetched, but I felt like the focus on the sounds (e.g. the alliteration “splashes and sinks”, the repetition of plosive sounds “drips…runs, panics slips” and other repetitions “water. Icy water”) symbolised the material focuses that media has on nature. For example, the crew seem oblivious to the polar bear’s danger as they are trying to achieve “clearer footage”.

The final line about warming the sea with the propellers spinning may also be considered far-fetched, however the overall message remains the same. So much money and resources are used for filming and producing this kind of show; not to mention the electricity we use to watch it. While some argue these television shows are raising awareness, are the creators aware of what they sacrifice?

 

Really hope you enjoyed my poem!

Some questions from me:
What are you doing to help the planet? Do you think documentaries like this get their message across?
Were you annoyed by the inconsistent rhymes and sound patterns?

Thank you for reading xxx

At Peace

I am mellow
like soft music playing
on a distant street.
Or a snail,
asleep, on the underside
of a lettuce leaf

I am free
like the ten thousand swifts
that dance over a river.
Or a feather from one
taken by wind

I am beautiful;
as beautiful as a clear sea
where coral reefs
bloom

I am loved
by those who are troubled
with loss

I am safe
in a shelter they made

Oh, but I am dead.

 

This poem was intended to capture a lot of natural imagery, before ultimately revealing the inevitable fate of life in the final line.

Despite the melancholy tone towards the end, I think the poem is mostly full of soft, beautiful moments. I wanted these stanzas to be read slowly, particularly with the mention of “snail” in the first stanza. The whole tone of the poem was supposed to represent a reflection of the self, with the first-person pronoun “I” being repeated at the beginning of each stanza (except for the final line, which adds to its diversity.)

The structure of the stanzas is something I ensured was noticeable; keeping the line lengths similar but decreasing the lengths of the stanzas as a whole. This was the symbolise the deterioration of life and the eventual realisation that it cannot last forever. However, reading the poem another way could suggest that the person or thing narrating the piece has been dead all along, and is simply reflecting on their past as a living thing. This is more evident in the final couple of stanzas. “Loved / by those who are troubled with loss” and “safe / in a shelter they made” both imply that the person has long been deceased and is already buried. This gives implications that despite there being no life left, a soul and its thoughts can live on (which is what we are exposed to in this poem).

I hope you enjoyed the poem!

Some questions from me:
Which of the natural images did you connect with the most?
What was your interpretation? Did you think it was a dead soul narrating?

Thank you for reading xxx

Down in the Dirt

Under the shade of us
and together with the earth
they move, hidden by heavy loads,
soldiers to battle. Formed
like one long thread,

racing, but slow.
Human step would over-take
but looking down –
their struggle is enticing.
And we watch

as six spindly sticks
shake in a frantic
panic, before another ancient
body assists. With clenched fists
man sees the force

and the strength
of this minuscule beast,
and his selfish mind longs for its skill.
But to his surprise
as he shrinks to their size,

his world looms above
and he’s lost in enormous amounts
of dirt. He scuttles and trips
over too many legs,
cries out to oblivious air.

Trailing behind his tribe,
he carries a leaf
like a burglar’s loot,
and is squashed.
By a big, black boot.

 

This poem was intended to capture the feeling of human greed. Man longing for power and strength is a recurring theme in myths and legends, and I wanted to create something of my own that reused this idea.

Throughout the poem the ants are admired by man, and are described as “soldiers to battle”. This personification links back to humans and their own strength, suggesting that each of these animals are in ways, rather alike. The inclusive pronoun “we” in stanza two implies that it is no single man that is selfish. This togetherness, however, is contradicted by the loneliness the character feels later in the poem. He is “lost” and “cries out to oblivious air”, suggesting he feels vulnerable and unsafe in his new body. (The theme of metamorphosis is something I chose not to elaborate on as I wanted to focus on one theme, however it could certainly make an interesting poem!).

I was quite experimental with sound in this piece. The irregular rhyme scheme seemed to appear surprisingly naturally, and I chose to keep it as I felt it quickened the pace somewhat. I wanted this to symbolize the speed of the ants. I also did this by using enjambment in every stanza but the last. Keeping the stanzas linked in this way reminded me of the  “long thread” image of the ants. My use of sibilance in several stanzas was intended to mimic the scuttling, rushing sound that insects often make when they move.

The helplessness of the man in the final two stanzas, is, (I hope), made quite clear. The phrase “too many legs” implies that he is  struggling to stand and balance, suggesting quite a comic image. The mockery of the character continues in the final line, where his journey as an insect ends, and ironically, he is flattened by a human foot. I gave this poem its surprising, punchy ending to shock the reader back into reality. We are reminded that all animals have strengths and weaknesses, though these are often relative to themselves. The human is ultimately stronger than the ant, but weakened by his own selfishness.

I hope you enjoyed the poem!

Some questions from me:
Would this have worked better if I’d used a different insect?
Were you surprised by the ending?

Thank you so much for reading xxx

For Nana

A burst of colour,
like party poppers.
A sudden beam of light
as if on stage.
A release of pain, and worry
such as sleep can give.
A knowing
that only comes with age.

A smile
as if every bad is absent.
A laugh, that chimes
like holy bells.
A heart that gives you all
but asks for nothing,
and eyes that say with sureness
all is well.

The comfort of your being
is eternal;
like markings into wood
it cannot fade.
Your selflessness, your energy,
a marvel.
I hope I grow
to be like you someday.

This poem, as the title suggests, was written for my Nana (who recently celebrated her birthday – woo!). In terms of poetic technique, there isn’t too much to talk about since I was concentrating more on the language and sound. I wanted to create a vivid image and, in some ways, make the poem relatable. However, this poem was always going to be largely personal to me. Every line was written with the same person in mind, and I have no doubt that everyone who knows my Nana will wholeheartedly agree with everything that is said.

To make the poem flow and read smoothly, I made careful choices with the structure and sounds. The pattern that was consistent through the first two stanzas (using the determiner “a” before a verb/noun) slowed the pace of the poem and added a melodic tone, which I found somewhat calming. In terms of rhyme, I chose to half-rhyme the words in lines 4 and 8 of each stanza. This was to make sure that the rhymes weren’t so much at the forefront of the poem, acting as more of a rhythmic tool. Another sound technique I used was sibilance, which can be found in the first stanza “such as sleep can give” as well as the second stanza, “eyes that say with sureness”. I added these softer /s/ sounds to reiterate the soothing tone of the poem, symbolising my Nana’s gentle and patient nature.

Some of the language I used was specific to my subject, which I believe is important when writing poetry for somebody or with them in mind. Making the writing individual and personal adds an element that only they might relate to, which I think produces an even more special piece of work. One of the phrases that was intended for my Nana was “a sudden beam of light / as if on stage”. She has always enjoyed performing and so I thought the spotlight metaphor worked well here. The other phrase specific to her was “holy bells”. My Nana holds a lot of faith in God and the church, and I knew she would appreciate the religious connotations that this brings to the poem.

I’d like to give a special mention to my Nana – she truly is a remarkable person with so much love in her heart. I admire her so much and I believe the world would be a better place if there were more people like her!

Thank you so much for reading this blog post, I hope you enjoyed it! xxx