ya helu, a poetry chapbook by lyw

book cover jpgya helu is a collection of poems that I wrote as a poetic self-portrait following the past few years since my mother passed away.

While writing, I didn’t want to be too self-centred in my approach to these poems. Instead, I tried to write about the people, ideas and activities that I gravitated towards during this time; I wrote about what I found most engaging about them as a way of painting a picture of myself.  The indirect approach to self-examination is sometimes more accurate and appropriate.

The book concept was also influenced by recent studies in classical painting.  Most students of this art usually attempt a self-portrait at some stage in their development.  I wanted to attempt something like this in a poetic form and as a progressive stage in my development.  Thus, my approach to the poems was also very visual and mostly in the third person.  Unfortunately, there is nothing classical about my written form even in literary terms. I haven’t any talent for iambic pentameter.  I also indulged in more humour and absurdity than would be typical of a classical self-portrait.

There’s a great scene towards the end of Virginia Woolf’s novel, Between the Acts.  In this scene, actors performing a festival play turn upon the audience with pieces of reflecting objects such as tin cans, mirrors, candle-stick holders, etc., ‘Anything that’s bright enough to reflect, presumably, ourselves?’[1]  The audience, while watching, suddenly become part of the last act of the play as characters watching themselves in fragmented pieces.

This is a lovely metaphor for how to piece together a temporary sense of identity with a limited human perspective.  In ya helu, I looked at the lives and activities that drew me when I found it difficult to be drawn — from the gruelling desk, the heavy bed, the funny moods — to reflect back to me interesting pieces of myself.

Thanks for reading this blog and please accept the below invitation, welcoming one and all to check out the book as it is introduced through various social media channels:

Please click on this link for a PDF version of your invitation: Ya Helu Invitation

written by lyw


[1] Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, Grafton Books. 1978 ed.

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