At the beginning of every year since I don’t know when I have listed goals and resolutions and for the most part I have met those goals.
Because I am a realist I don’t list goals of weight loss, alcohol reduction and an increase in fitness – these are ongoing battles for me to win and lose. My annual goals have been around my writing, learning new skills and my garden. I never realized until this year that goal setting relied on a certain amount of stability and routine.
2013 will be for me a disruptive year. I will probably be spending about 60% of my time in Paris, returning to Scotland only to meet necessary commitments. I had already resigned myself to the fact that my vegetable garden would have a fallow year and my greenhouse will be used to store logs.
My whistle playing has all but ceased due to the proximity of my neighbours in the Paris 3rd floor apartment and even when I am at home domestic chores take priority over learning new tunes.
My 2013 resolutions needed to be quiet and portable.
Number one is to finish my ongoing novel project. This is top priority with a self imposed deadline to finish in the first quarter of the year. I also want to write a rough draft of another novel in November during National Novel Writing Month. This has worked for me in the past so I am ready to give it another whirl.
My learning goal is obvious – improve my terrible French. I try to do a little each day but it is not easy outside of a class. If the novel goes to plan I intend to enroll in an Alliance Française crash course in the summer.
But I also want to improve my writing. Long projects can grind me down, I fall in a rut, sometimes things need spiced up. I hit upon an idea to read at least one poem a day and choose a new poet every week. As an ex accountant the numbers appealed to me. It would add up to more than three hundred and sixty five poems and fifty two new poets by the time the bells bring in 2014.
Where to start? I was away for New Year so chose my first poet from what was available on my Bookeen book reader. Poems of the Past and the Present by Thomas Hardy included some war poems and seemed a good opener. Many of the poems made me cry, many I couldn’t understand but loved the beauty of their language. My favorites from this collection were The Colonel’s Soliloquy, The Mother Mourns and ‘I said to Love’.
I don’t intend to review the poems I read but hope that by the end of the year I will have a better understanding of form and can learn from the experience of reading varied poets from many eras.
Because many poets are among my Facebook friends I asked there for recommendations. I now have a list list of about twenty poets. The over whelming suggestion was for a poet I already had on my list, Kathleen Jamie. Her collection The Overhaul has been awarded the Costa Poetry Award 2012 and my copy arrived just as I was leaving for Paris. I started the book on Monday night and it has been difficult not to gobble this masterpiece up in one sitting. It is a delight. Every poem has merit but The Gather is my favorite. It is gentle of voice yet strong in character and emotion.
Although this is prescribed reading I know I will return to these collections time and again. The prescriptive nature is necessary to reign in my flighty nature and open up new worlds to me.