Poetry Wednesday: Another From Tom MacIntyre

from the poem Return Visit (in the collection I Bailed Out at Ardee, which I discovered in a bookshelf in my unit at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig)

There’s a sign,
you that’s one for signs,

you’ve climbed the mountain,
gone into the wood
to touch the stones —

the stones can’t be found.

Scan the view.
Weigh the lean
mid-winter air.

That sapper’s mark
has its eye on me.

I stand there years,

then know-nothing,

Novel-In-Progress: FARM, MOUNTAIN, SEA, Ch. 1

Self’s novel is set on the island of Negros, in the central Philippines, at the start of the Japanese Occupation during World War II. Honorato, an hacendero‘s son, and Moses, the enkargado, are ordered to the mountains by Honorato’s father.

Self is bringing it, people. Just bringing it. Right now, her manuscript stands at 247 pages.

The next day the forest rears up before them, indescribably dense. It takes them a mere hour to reach the first line of trees. Upon entering, they find themselves under a thick canopy of foliage, the light fading to a cathedral dimness. Birds and an occasional monkey frolic overhead.

Moses leads the way, hacking the heavy vines and tree branches that block their path. Soon, his back is soaked with sweat. Honorato watches silently as the enkargado removes his shirt. The older man’s back is ribbed and corded and hard-looking, with small scars pocking the surface, from what past injury Honorato can only guess.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Tuesday: Tom MacIntyre

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After hours and hours of straight writing, self takes a break by perusing her cottage’s bookshelves for poetry collections.

She finds a collection called I Bailed Out at Ardee (Dedalus), by Tom MacIntyre.

Excerpt from Father

My shoulder knows his coffin
best of all, I was
the one who wasn’t there.

Tom MacIntyre was born in Cavan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Another Novel-in-Progress, Found

This one takes place in the Philippines during World War II.

The working title is Farm and Mountain:

Four days later, the enkargado took Honorato to the mountains.

It was almost too late. From across the narrow strait separating them from the neighboring island of Panay, smoke had been rising, for days. The Zeros had made straight for the fuel depots in Iloilo.

243 pp.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dystopia In Progress

Self is going to try, while she’s at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, pulling all her science fiction together into one collection.

What to call it?

She’s toying with the idea of making this the first story:

THE FREEZE (published in Bluestem)

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine

Thanksgiving was just a week ago. I served brined turkey with oatmeal rolls and my special fig-and-rice stuffing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More From Self’s “Residents of the Deep”

Self’s story is set in some unknown century. The explorer who is the MC is something like Captain Cook (Oceania! What a fantastic exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts!):

  • From the lack of authentic records, ascending into remote antiquity, the origin of most very ancient cities is involved in obscurity. Who would have supposed that a very old civilization existed on the ocean floor, one that had escaped the notice of man for centuries, equaling — nay, in some cases exceeding — the grandeur of ancient Rome.

In self’s story, the Residents of the Deep accomplish all their daily tasks in one-quarter time. That is, they appear human, but their behavior is just a little “off.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

High Comedy

EMMA: Volume II Chapter XV

Far be it for self to attempt to sum up the Immortal Jane, but time is short and self has a book (nay, many books!) to complete. If only self could keep up this arch language for a moment longer — so that she could finish her work-in-progress set in, naturally, Regency England!

But, she digresses.

A chapter or two ago, Mrs. Weston confided to Emma that she believes Mr. Knightley is in love with Jane Fairfax. This suggestion puts Emma in high dudgeon (even though she has never, hitherto, thought of Mr. Knightley in any way other than a brother)

So, Emma decides to probe about the nature of his feelings for Jane Fairfax (Among other things, Jane was the recipient of a piano from a mysterious benefactor. And, pianos being expensive, suspicion on the possible donor centers on Mr. Knightley). She asks him a direct question about Jane. What follows is a most delightful episode of “foot pressing.” Self never encountered the like in any of the Jane Austen novels she has read to date. You know, when someone is about to put her/his foot in her/his mouth and someone gives you a kick under the table? As a kind of warning?

Here’s the scene:

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons of his thick leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting them together, or some other cause, brought the colour into his face, as he answered,

“Oh, are you there? — But you are miserably behind-hand. Mr. Cole gave me a hint of it six weeks ago.”

He stopped. Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, and did not know herself what to think. In a moment he went on —

“That will never be, however, I can assure you. Miss Fairfax, I dare say, would not have me if I were to ask her — and I am very sure I shall never ask her.”

He becomes annoyed with Emma’s questions, and then thoughtful. Jane Fairfax, Mr. Knightley says, “has a fault. She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.”

!!!!! Emma, open your eyes! Open your eyes!

Stay tuned.

Trees, Fall, Annaghmakerrig

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10 October 2018

Work-in-Progress: “Residents of the Deep”

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Map of Oceania

Self began this story on her very first visit to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig and has added to it, bit by bit, over the years. She was in Unit # 4 and there was an old maritime book in one of the cupboards.

She doesn’t worry about finishing this story. It will always be “in progress” — it will always exist in middle time, like her visits to this part of Ireland and beautiful Annaghmakerrig.

Here are the opening sentences:

There is something singularly impressive and affecting to the imagination when, in a perfectly calm tropical sea, under a vertical sun, one is able to look down through a depth of thousands of fathoms of clear water and see on the ocean bottom glimpses of the City and all its strange and wonderful objects. The discovery of a populous City existing under fathoms of ocean is an occurrence with no precedent in the annals of exploration, one that overshadows even the discovery of the Americas by Columbus.

Self’s stories are always birthed this way: with the opening sentences. No matter how many drafts her stories go through, the opening sentences never change. If the sentence is strong, it is like a fine, big engine that can power her through — even 20 or 25 pages later — all the way to the end. See the interview she gave to Bellingham Review, the Contributor Spotlight that accompanied their publication of self’s story, Ice. (The first four or five paragraphs of Ice were unchanged from first draft)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Early Draft: Matias, 1746

Self found an old chapter of her novel-in-progress (which is right now 310 pages; it used to be 323 pages)

This chapter is titled “Education, 1746” and begins:

The Bishop schooled Matias carefully. He gave Matias instruction on the governance of the Islands, and the manner in which the archipelago had come under the tutelage of Spain.

And then the history of the Islands unfolds, from Magellan’s voyage to the succeeding century, and all is told in dialogue.

“I must rest,” the Bishop said. “We shall continue on this topic tomorrow.”

Matias returned to his room and lay, restless and wakeful, far into the night.

Self loves, loves, loves these early drafts. That is fine writing, even if it was done by herself (lol). There is almost no backstory. Matias, the young priest, is being schooled by the Bishop. And it is only the two of them, chapter after chapter. There is a garden, and an old house, and birds, and heat, and the Bishop sometimes takes middle-of-the-night walks in just his nightshirt, and Matias catches him, and there’s light from a thin moon. And then nothing.

The parts self added, she doesn’t really like that they spell out so much history. In fact, the only new parts self likes are the parts during the ship voyage from Cadiz to Manila. And the introduction of four soldiers who escort Matias to the island. But these soldiers serve absolutely no plot. They simply take Matias and leave him there, on the beach. Then an old woman emerges from the forest and dances for Matias, and leaves again. And Matias lives in a swamp with another old woman. And finally he meets a half-breed named Diego.

That’s it! There are no big, dramatic scenes. But maybe that’s the story self wanted to write. Maybe that’s the real story: colonization in a hypnotic state, with no drama.

Ugh, writing in long form is truly difficult. She has to get the words down, but those words mean nothing. It’s only after, when she has to carve them into some kind of meaning. She’s not talking about plot, she’s talking about meaning. Her kind of writing is truly writing without a safety net, for she never has a road map.

She has a friend, Caroline (a member of her writers group, and a fine, fine writer herself) who read her short story collection. Last week, Caroline and self met in a café and Caroline told her which stories in the collection could/should be expanded. Caroline is the mother of three young children (all still in grade school) and has just started a graduate program at St. Mary’s, yet she read almost 300 pages of self’s work. That kind of generosity is priceless. These stories are not new, but because of Caroline, self knows which ones she has to try and work on some more.

She hopes she can do all this work in Annaghmakerrig. If she can just. Get. There. Without. Falling. Apart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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