Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, before

This week I have been spending most of my reading in Poetry and Poetry Review — the poetry magazines for people who like others to know its poetry they’re reading.

Donika Kelly in Poetry offers us Dear- which you can read in full here, or below:



(Big fan of whoever at the Poetry Foundation decided to include the hyphen in the url of the page)

The poem takes us through love that is negotiated through a sharing of space. The idea that like some very old gods there are patterns of people — small animals really — meeting in rhythms that form a practice, that form love through an expression of borders and positions.

These are unarticulated with words — only the statements of scale — to be unlike the ocean because they are not metaphors but small things making motions on repeat.

Here is how I
become a tree
[ ]

and you
[ ]
a body in space

Here there are no words for what they are becoming, because really, they cannot become a tree — there is no way to express a body in space without resorting to metaphor.

You can imagine here that these spaces are for the motions and positions, for the practice of love through meeting in rhythms and making the small ritual actions that signal anything larger than being small animals at all.

And “at different times” — saying that our small lives build love accumulatively. It is the layering of our actions which gives us the meaning we see in the world. Often we expect the world to present us meaning pre-packaged, because we are so used to everything being so laden. So here, with the frank admission that sometimes we have to start small and work at something tells us that we are part of the way meaning is made out in the world, between on another.


Speaking of repetition, Tim Clare interviewed Ross Sutherland this week on Death of 1000 Cuts, and Ross had some really interesting things to say about how repetition adds meaning into things in a way that is unexpected at first.

(There’s about 8 minutes of waffle at the start, I am sure Tim won’t mind you skipping)

To paraphrase from memory:

Ross would use things like reworking the Fresh Prince intro into a looping poem that, at the start, would seem funny and familiar and as the same words were repeated each time they would come to be less funny. And then, after the crowd realised he wouldn’t stop looping and reciting the words, it would become funny again.

And then, Ross says, at some point you realise that through this repetition the repeated words or ideas morph into something else, as if they become the most important metaphor for anything in your life, a key stone for understanding all.

There’s lots of other really good stuff in the interview but I liked the idea that, like the poem above, that even something as simple as repetition can push meaning into anything.


I have also recently been working on putting together a full length poetry MS, sort of titled The Essays, using that kind of interesting “essay” format that I have been playing with. If you have no regard for your literary health, and would like to have a read of it for me and provide a little bit of feedback, please let me know.


Today’s song is a lovely bit of piano from Yann Tiersen called Porz Goret. Listen here, enjoy his earrings.


Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own. Sorry if you’ve heard this one before. It was written by @CJEggett, and he would love you to let him know about any typos. He would love to read whatever you’re working on, or just enter into a ongoing ritual with you. If you couldn’t find the meaning, then maybe you need to read it again ❤

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