30 November 2010

Tiger's Daughter, Son of Wolf

Posts about poetry seem to be dominating my blog lately. Just this one more, and I hope we can get on to other topics...

In the early years of the current millennium, inspired by literature classes at university, I acquired a taste for old-fashioned metre and rhyme (writing, mind you, more than reading), where earlier I'd primarily been writing free-form poetry. This resulted in a few sonnets and other random pieces of verse poetry, mostly written during the first half of the decade. After that... well, laziness got the better of me.

Among those early experiments was something titled Tiger's Daughter, Son of Wolf. This was my first (and only) attempt at an epic. It was to be a long(ish) narrative poem, in tetrametre couplets. However, I never got around to finishing it. And, lazy sod that I am, there's no guarantee I ever will, so I decided I might as well share what I have written thus far.

Even unfinished it's easily my longest poetic work. As a story it's, well, a pretty simple adventure, even a little pulpy... Anyways, should anyone wish to read it, it's here.

The Spoons of Reality

Last night I decided to browse through some old papers, mainly containing poems and other little thoughts jotted down. I added a bunch of them to my poetry page. There's some silly flow-of-consciousness stuff, a few haiku, and one or two metre pieces I'm actually quite fond of (and had quite forgotten writing). I particularly like the one that begins 'Sweet night, beneath thy spell I lie'.

I've even added one more sonnet, although not one of my best by a long shot. Most of them aren't really anything special, although there are a few that I like, and almost sound pleasing. The last one (currently numbered XI) still manages to amaze me. Apparently I haven't written any sonnets since 2003, though. Like I've said before, I tend to be too lazy to tackle strict metres these days.

I've also rearranged the poetry pages some, so that the poems are now in more or less chronological order, and dated as far as possible. I usually strive to date all my writings, but not all the older papers have dates on them, I'm afraid.

24 November 2010

Losing My Language

I think I'm having some kind of a little identity crisis just now. This was brought on in part by some memes going around on Facebook (dangerous things, those memes), discussing people's favourite words from their home dialects, and perhaps in part also by English TV programmes I've been watching lately.

The question is: what is my language, my accent? Do I even have a real home dialect?

The thing is, I come from a bilingual family, living in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, which is neither parent's home town. I suppose the speech of the capital region has most shaped my own speech. However, even though I've lived here all my life (and probably will live the rest of it too), I haven't exactly got proper roots here.

The situation is only complicated by the fact I fairly actively use not one but two languages, and have roots in two countries. Not only two countries, but regions in those countries with fairly distinctive accents/dialects, namely Yorkshire and Savonia.

I'd really love to say I spoke either of those dialects, but that's hardly the case. I can handle a bit of Savonia, having spent many summers and Christmases there since I was a kid, but I'm hardly confident in it. Yorkshire I've never even visited, and I've spent very little time in England altogether. My English is probably a mix of influence from home, school and television/music from all over the world, with that awful flat Finnish intonation always pushing through. Of course my parents have also lived away from their homes for quite some time as well, so dialect influence through them is limited at best.

I'm not sure I'm even able to express this conundrum properly in words here. Thinking about it is giving me a headache. But in a nutshell, I'm a jumble of at least three distinct language and culture heritages (Helsinki, Savonia and Yorkshire), but unable to properly connect or identify with any of them. Who am I?

(Insert deep sigh.)

23 November 2010

Me VS Poetry

If you follow my blog or browse my website, you may notice I occasionally write poems. They're often a little angsty perhaps, a little naive, a little silly. I do not have any illusions of actually being a talented poet. I think sharing these poems may be more akin to an act of exhibitionism than 'art', a baring of the soul to the world in the dark, lonesome hours of night...

Writing poems for me is usually a very spontaneous act. An emotion arises, which needs to be expressed somehow. Or I'm just sitting somewhere and getting bored (I've got piles of poems written on train trips, for example). They tend to be fairly flow-of-consciousnessy things as a result. I don't rework my text a lot, either; once it's out it's out. Which means the language and rhythm is rarely anything very exceptional. (This applies to all my creative work, really. I'm really awful at editing stuff, I just want to get started on the next thing.)

I used to write some poems in metre in my early 20's, but it's been a long while since I've done that much (excluding a few song lyrics, perhaps, and the occasional haiku). Writing in metre takes a lot more effort and forethought, and since poems aren't exactly a high priority among my creative projects, it's not surprising I just don't have the motivation to write those these days.

In all honesty, I don't really read much poetry at all, nor have I any interest in doing so. I can appreciate a nice poem if I run into one, certainly, but frankly it doesn't happen all that often. Poetry for the sake of poetry just isn't for me. (Song lyrics are a whole other matter, of course. The additional layer of musical expression makes a world of difference.)

All These Poems Are the Same

All these poems are the same, I think.
They start around midnight,
starlit, ne'erdark summer nights,
or rainy autumn shadows,
or gentle, red-city-glare snowfalls.
Often there's a candle,
soft music playing.
They start in darkness
and silence
and solitude;
solitude above all.
And I wonder at the pull
of shadows and silence upon this heart,
upon this tiny, empty place therein
all but forgotten;
is not Nyx herself my lover, in all her glory?
Could Man possibly yearn for more?
Like a lone wolf
(aye, as much by choice as by fate),
howling, longing for the moon,
I am reminded of the words of a wise man,
spoken long ago:
'If I said you had a beautiful body,
would you hold it against me?'

21 November 2010

War, What Is It Good For?

Let's get one thing straight: war can be beautiful, touching, moving, exciting, even inspiring, if it is done right. And doing it right obviously means, among other things, doing it in fiction.

I could hardly imagine a life without stories involving war in one form or other. So just for fun I'll try to list a few of the most memorable war scenes in fiction that I know, some epic and exciting, others tragic and thought-provoking:

  • The battles of Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields in The Lord of the Rings, both the book and the film versions. I have to say I actually prefer Bakshi's vision of Helm's Deep to that of Jackson's and find it even more epic.
  • The siege of Sapata (I think, I haven't got the book handy just now) and many other scenes in Hayao Miyazaki's NausicaƤ of the Valley of Wind (manga version).
  • Both Death Star battles in the Star Wars trilogy, naturally.
  • The finale in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, although I'm not sure it quite qualifies, since they never really get to all out war, but fight it out with just a couple of ships.
  • The battle for the bridge in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. One of the most moving depictions of the tragedy of war that I know.
  • The charge of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon (the film version).
  • On the TV side, several episodes in Battlestar Galactica (the remake) definitely qualify, as well as some parts of the Shadow war in Babylon 5. And Xena: Warrior Princess goes without saying, of course, particularly some of the battles against Romans.
  • Surprisingly, I'm finding it hard to think of many examples from video games, as they (the games I play, anyway) tend to focus more on individuals and small groups than all out war. Metal Gear Solid 4 is of course one of the best, not just a war game but a game about war, its opening sequence being perhaps one of the most memorable war scenes from it.

I'm sure there are many others, in all mediums, but these will do for now. And they do say much about the type of stories I enjoy, as well.