Saturday, 5 February 2011

Capturing the moment

All writers are observers. We carry notepads, murmur into recorders, rattle fingers over netbooks. Which is all very well if you are scribbling overheard scraps of conversation, or if you are gifted enough to be able to produce spot-on descriptions with zero notice. (I'm not, by the way. We are talking blood, sweat and concentrated staring into space here.) But what if you want to capture the essence of a moment? Something that you can refer back to months or even years later. Something that takes you back to Yes, then, that was it, that was how I felt at that exact moment in time.

As I'm sure I've said before, I use poetry. It doesn't have to rhyme. It doesn't have to be grammatically correct. But done right it will have its own internal rhythm and it will have the right keywords, in the right order, to capture the moment.

Last night, waiting in the car park to give my son a lift home from the late bus, I saw something I'd never seen before. It was beautiful, scary, left my heart pounding in my mouth and was over in seconds.

So once it was settled in my head, over my last mug of tea, I wrote it into a poem. A tiny, reusable, time capsule.

This is an example. There was no time to film it.
Otherworld Running
by Jan Jones

After dark is a lawless world
of energy and dares
of scary, arc lit follow-my-leader
of grace
streamlined running
lithe darting
one-handed hurdling
trellis climbing
roof sliding . . .

Then, gone
all of them

as suddenly as they were there

melted away

The last bus rolls in
With yellow windows and solitary passengers

As I start the car my heart subsides in painful jerks to my chest
the echoes of slapping feet held suspended in my mind



Karen said...

Wow, that's really powerful. And what a great way to capture the feel of a moment, not just the image.

It's funny because I was thinking along these exact lines while I was walking the dog earlier, after listening to a talk about how to write your life story. I'd come to the conclusion I could only do it if it was in some sort of poetry form, capturing the essence of different moments - exactly as you just described!

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Karen. It's something I've always done - right from an adolescent.

It's very liberating in a way. I can be as spare with the words as I like because I write poems for me,not for anyone else. That means I don't have to worry that people might not understand what I'm saying, all that matters is that the image is right for me.

Couldn't write a whole book like that though!

Anonymous said...

That transcends frisson and goes straight to forget to breathe, drop jaw status!
Sadly, I don't write poetry, but I do a lot of jotting. Always have pen and paper - almost always. Once wrote in OH's palm because had just put lotion on mine and pen wouldn't write.
Thanks for sharing.

Jan Jones said...

Ha! Love it, Jen!

Glad you like poem - have to admit I was pretty dumbstruck myself at the time. I guess I don't get out enough any more. :)

J. Fishler said...

ps: I'd buy a jar of those capsules. :)
Jen Fishler

liz fenwick said...

Captures it beautifully...heart beating...

Debs Carr said...

Wow, that certainly paints a vivid picture in my mind.

Shirley Wells said...

Wow. That is so powerful.

I love poetry, absolutely love it, but can't do it. I'm in awe.

Jan Jones said...

Liz, Debs and Shirley - thank you, you are all very kind. I'm glad it brought the scene a little bit alive for you.

I don't think my poetry is particularly big and meaningful. It certainly wouldn't win prizes (except for a Save The Rainforest t-shirt once. Oh, and a £10 runner's up prize in a local exhibition). But it suits me.