Hiaku 3009

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This old world, this life,

this reality, is what

I live in my dreams.

 

Rochester, 2016

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

 

Photo Credit: Malek Montag, 2005

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Golf – the best way to ruin a good walk

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I was invited to the pub recently. This is a rare event for me. Normal, no-one bothers. Maybe it’s because I’m boring when out of an evening, or maybe because I’m always writing. I prefer writing. I love writing. Particularly fiction where I can create humans I can actually relate to… Only kidding. Or am I?

So, I was invited to the pub. This was partially a social gathering, but also, or mainly, it was designed to be a meeting of minds and writing talent. Most of the other participants of this soiree had been to a creative writing course, which incidentally I was invited to join. However, my antipathy towards creative writing courses is matched by such illustrious literati as Jeanette Winterson – now a professor of creative writing at Manchester University – and my opinion is, if I’m not going to write, then I’d rather be down the pub.

Creative writing courses to me are like golf. And golf, according to Winston Churchill, is the best way to ruin a good walk. Love walking, especially in the country, as much as I love writing. So, if you’re going to walk, walk. If you’re going to write, write. Why spoil it by going on a course?

Yes, I confess, I have participated in numerous scribe fests in my time but I can’t say I enjoyed any of them. So, why did I join them? I think (1) I wanted some insight into the world of writing that would perhaps fast-track me to publication, and (2) I believed I might just be discovered. Both were tosh and bish ideas, and motivations for attending any course, not least one for writers. Neither was ever going to happen. Over the years I’ve learned there are only three things that will help me on the way to my dream of seeing my name and work in print, and they are: write, re-write, and read.

If you’re not attending a writing course to get a better understanding of character, or composition, or language, or any other finer point of the craft of writing, then it’s a pointless exercise. All the course will succeed in doing is providing you with another avenue for procrastination. And procrastination is almost as central to a writer’s life as, well, writing. We would write profound books on the subject, only we never get round to it. Okay, one does write at a writers’ gathering, a creative writing course, or a poetry workshop. That I’ll concede. To a point. Yes, you write, but you only write a staged exercise. You’re on a course with bunkers, a green, and a fairway. You’re not walking through a forest full of shadow and dappled sunlight, or a meadow filled with the scent of wildflowers, or cresting a hill with a vista over a river delta, or trudging along a tow-path along the side of a water treatment works. You’re not on your own, ploughing your own furrow. This is not the novel you said you’d finish by Christmas.

I’ve learned more by reading than attending creative writing courses: reading classic literature, non-fiction, work published independently and reading my own stuff. But, I think, I learned more from teaching the language I write in. Someone said, the best way to learn a subject is to teach it. Maybe that’s true of creative writing as well. I taught English for six years and learned a great deal about language, form, and structure. Above all, I learned not to hold steadfastly onto anything I create: write, read, and then re-write.

So, anytime I head out into open country, I obstinately avoid those tees and greens and the nineteenth hole. Every journey starts with a small step, and writing is no exception. Always view a blank page as the first stage on a long and exciting walk. 

 

Malek Montag

Rochester, 2016

 

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

Photo Credit: Malek Montag, 2015

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Haiku 2809

The clock ticks, tick-tock,
it’s face watching me wait, wait.
Wait, it’s time to go…  

Rochester, 2016  

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15  

Source: Haiku 2809

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Haiku 2809

The clock ticks, tick-tock,

it’s face watching me wait, wait.

Wait, it’s time to go…

 

Rochester, 2016

 

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

 

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Mary Celeste 4 Grounds Keeper Willie

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Lately, I’ve been reading a critique on Radcliffe, Lewis and Maturin, and classic Gothic literature between 1790 and 1820 in Carol Ann Howells’ Love, Mystery ad Misery. It’s a fascinating read on a genre I’m particularly interested in and, I have to say, one that kind of informs my own writing. A bit of darkness always lightens my creations. But looking at Ms Howells in-depth analyse of these, and a few other, authors has influenced my thinking in other ways too.

As I said yesterday, my job took me out into the wilds of Kent and East Sussex and I found myself steering my chariot down a narrow lane behind Lewes FC’s Stadio Del Cuilfail – their football ground by the railway station. This area of Lewes, for those who don’t know, is where a college and school are situated and a large swath of the site is given over to sporting endeavour (not just those of the mighty Lewes FC), and next door to the Household Waste site (every educational campus should have one, in my opinion) someone has placed the ground-staff’s… place. Or, as I called it yesterday, Grounds-Keeper Willie’s Shack.

It was perplexing. I arrived in my van to find a car parked by the office. The shutters over the window were open but clearly no-one was around. A veritable Mary Celeste cliche! Investigations revealed the office door to be locked and all other doors on the site were also in a state of unopenness… or locked as well. All, that was, except for the cabin containing the toilet.

I had rather a large amount of gear to deliver and was keen to get it off my van. However, with no-one in the vicinity I was kind of snookered. My delivery sheet shed no light on contacting these people as no phone numbers had been supplied. So, I called my depot. My colleague got on to some other colleagues who in turn asked other colleagues to find some means of communicating with the ground staff on site. This took time. While I waited a need overcame me. Not cripplingly so, but a need nonetheless. So, in that period of time while I waited, I decided to avail myself of the facilities. The door was unlocked after all.

Now, it must be borne in mind that not a soul was abroad in that little haven for grass-cutters and line-painters when I sauntered off to the loo with my mind armed with images of dark mystery and horror. I stepped into the cabin set aside for ablutions and immediately I was greeted by a locked cubical door. The red “engaged” sign screamed at me and Radcliffian images from Odolpho and Montoni’s seductive prowess crowded my vision. My imagination ran like a tractor over a playing field. I had to check under the door to make sure I was still quite alone. Satisfied there wasn’t a corpse on the throne, I answered my call of Nature. Then, as I washed my hands, a noise erupted behind me. More images of terror and misery poured forth into my over-active creative brain. Tentatively, I glanced over me shoulder not really expecting to see a ghost/vampire/zombie/one-of-the-four-riders-of-the-apocalypse, and saw… absolutely nothing. The sound was the cistern automatically flushing the urinals.

I stepped from that nightmare world of my own creation that amounted to, well, nothing, and back into a reality equally matched by the one I had left behind in the cabin. The delivery remained unresolved and I was left with no option but to continue on with my journey, and admire the football stadium as I passed.

 

Malek Montag,

Rochester, 2016

 

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

Photo Credit: Malek Montag, 2005

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Silence is Golden… and a few other colours besides

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I set out today to the depths of Kent and East Sussex from the warehouse in a hire van. As I passed through the gates of our yard and traversed the road to the first junction, I became aware of a curious sound. I listened intently trying to ascertain the origin and meaning of this intrusion into my cockpit. Then it came to me: it was the engine!

Okay, I jest. I’ve heard engine noises before. But today, in that hire van, that is all I had to listen to.

Usually, a vehicle comes equipped with a fully functioning radio so the driver can choose what annoying music or presenter should accompany them on their journey. Not in this van. It has a radio, true enough, but its ability to fully receive a signal has been terminally curtailed by a lack of arial. Yes, I could listen to the radio, if white noise floated my boat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

So, I was faced with the mouthwatering prospect of a 150-mile round trip with just the engine and verbal abuse from other drivers for in-flight entertainment. For most mere mortals that would have been a bleak prospect. Monday would have been painted grey with morose forbidding. However, I’m no mere mortal. Just mortal. I could see myself as a mobile hermit cut off from the outside world until I reached my various destinations. Figures from literature sprang to mind, such as Old Ben Gunn and his cheese, or the boys on Golding’s island, or Winston Smith in 1984 (or another anti-hero divorced from the society surrounding them). Even infamous authors who have been almost cut off from society physically with only their work touching other human-beings. Emily Dickinson seems to fit this scenario. It’s a curious thing, though, the number of poets who have experienced the inside of an asylum throughout history. Sad business indeed. But my musically mute van was hardly an asylum, or even some kind of mobile hermitage. I was just deprived of euphonious distraction for the period of time it took me to travel 15o miles from Maidstone to, well, Maidstone again.

So, tomorrow’s another day. And one that’ll be spent in the warehouse… where there is no radio. Se la vie.

 

Malek Montag,

Rochester, 2016

 

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

Photo credit: Malek Montag, 2013

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Paper Images of Sound and Listening

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The swarthy sward bites hard in the crucible

of sound pounded softly to those insensible,

inflexible pieces of ground locked in concert

with rising raking voices, of shed tears inert.

Silver flows the mercury of time in our times

with so unfashionably new nursery rhymes.

Sublime remains the passion of an acidic fruit

left untended on every greengrocers barrow

twisting like helter-skelter by a sinful arrow

with a burning turning kernel in every root.

 

Malek Montag,

Rochester, 2016

 

Photo credit: Malek Montag, 2016

 

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15

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