a reliable friend in poetry


A good, solid friendship is a lot like poetry; that kind of thing that is difficult to fully appreciate until one really, and often accidentally, benefits from it, and then, it becomes worthy of headline news and daily study.

Poetry on friendship,  however, is often over-loaded with too much sentiment, and like too many sweets, can hide the goodness that should be there – in fact, it can make a poem feel like it lacks substance – and that should never happen when writing about a friend.  Having and being a good friend is not just sweet but essential to healthy, human success.

In this week’s poetry video on the lyw channel, we celebrate poetry that values reliable friendship — friendship that not only provides sweetness, but protein, good fatty acids, and bitter healthy greens. This video is also a great way to balance the poetry on war and strife that was discussed in the last blog on this site.

Slide2Creating a video compilation of poetry on friendship, even in fragments, was a challenge.  Most of what I found on the internet was of the greeting-card variety — very generic and easy to apply.  Poems on friendship, like other ‘sentimental’ poems, are the hardest poems to write well because of the over-abundance of sentiment, similes and the need to explain in prose.  i.e. ‘I love you because you’re great… etc., etc., etc.’

Now I realize my ideas of what makes a great poem is not universal.  As well, poetry found on-line, on any subject, is limited.  However, it makes me sad that I found more great poems on the subject of war than great poems on friendship, in my biased internet research.

Slide3I began crafting this video with Maya Angelou’s, ‘A Conceit,’ for its warmth balanced with strength and clarity.  Then, I invoked a little T.S. Eliot, as well as a fragment from one of my favourite friendly poets, Robert Burns, even though I have difficulty understanding his Scottish English.  It is easy to understand his warmth, vitality and poetic eye for what he values most in his life.  He aims his poetry very specifically and with a robust heartfelt vigour.  I also featured a sample from Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market poem.  Although this poem doesn’t directly address friendship very often, the heroism in the poem is an act of profound love and friendship.

Thank you for reading this blog.  Please click on the link to enjoy the latest video compilation on the lyw Youtube channel celebrating of poetry on friendship:

I would also like to invite poets to submit poetry celebrating a friend or friendship to this blog site, ‘a reliable friend.’  It is an old blog site that was originally created to celebrate a friend arriving at her 40th birthday and reinvented in an effort to continue building an on-line library of poetic friendship strong enough to hold any kind of front-line.






Image Sources:

Three Red Rambutan Fruit Trees Are Hanging – http://www.hbr-online.com/2014/10/tiga-buah-rambutan-merah-tergantung-di-pohon-pid-124.html

“Die landschaft mit den drei baeumen” by Rembrandt – http://www.reproarte.com : Home : Info : Pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg#/media/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg

Arthur Rackham illustration of ‘the Goblin Market’: c/o https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237142736598747301/

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.