Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 12, 2008


I am distracted today.  I am not reading but instead write endless and useless lines in my notebook.  No, not my short story or novel notebook!  No, I’ve started another one.  A poetry notebook!  You may well ask why.

I have no natural gift for writing iambic pentameters, I discover.  I cannot even write the simplest sentence following this structure without long deep thought and counting!  It does not come naturally.  Why do I try?  I’ve got a copy of Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled : Unlocking the Poet Within, in an attempt to mug up on poetry for the creative course (there is one much dreaded compulsory submission in the poetry unit – oh no, oh yes, what will I do?)

The book is funny and definitely a gentle and serious but also amusing introduction to poetry, including the Greek technical terms, which are no more than
                                     Convenient and innocuous nomenclatorial handles
as quoted from Vladimir Nabokov in Notes on Prosody.

I’m only slightly worried that it’s becoming an obsession that will distract me from writing and reading short stories and novels.

No, it won’t!  I’m reading Mikhail Bulgakov The Master and Margerita as well as dipping in and out of several collections of short stories.  More on these soon.  As long as I can escape from obsessive iambic pentameters!



  1. My ideas on poetry go along with my ideas on writing. Sticking to the rhyme does not seem to me as being the only way to write poetry. Poetry can also be spiritual ideas put in writing in a conventional way, I mean short sentences with a deep moral or otherwise sense.

    In this connection I always remember Joyce and his ways to communicate.

  2. Oh no Oh no … I am losing you to the art of poetry. Actually I’m only jealous, because I can’t write poetry. I long to, but I can’t. How is your OU course?

    I’m interested to hear what you think of Bulgakov.

  3. I can’t even come up with sentences that rhyme! So I can’t only appreciate reading poetry.

    I’m so excited every time when I hear someone (new) is reading The Master and Margarita, as if I’m the author of the book! I hope you enjoy the story and the meaning it evokes. It’s the one book I’ll bring with me to a deserted island. 🙂

  4. Jose: absolutely, and I am just so relieved that I have discovered this. Now I’m greatly enjoying ‘playing around’ with words and ideas!

    Caroline: actually, the course keeps me on track and I do enjoy ‘being forced’ to consider the muses including poetry. It can become obsessive.. And with respect to Bulgakov, see below:

    Matt: I am really enjoying this book, in particular the story of Pontius Pilates (his terrible migraine is splendidly evocative) – I’ll give a more considered review, shortly I hope!

  5. That the story of Pilate runs parallel to that of the Master and Margarita is what intrigued me at the first place. I can’t wait to read what you have to say about the work. 🙂

  6. Matt: I am even more intrigued now: am nearly half way through and enjoying every chapter.

  7. I am so NOT a poet — I admire anyone who gives it a shot, because I’m not willing to! But I do like reading the poems of other people; it’s just that I’d have no idea where to start …

  8. Dorothy: neither did/do I but I’m having a go! And amazingly, it is actually quite fun and can get obsessive. 🙂

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