Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the one hundred and twenty-seventh poem in this series. This week’s piece is by Samantha Wilcox.
An ever-changing tonal wail
competing with the Chinese violin
People move arms up
And circle the air
Daylight in the entrance to the park
Or later as fading light turns to dark
Colour lights by battery
red and blue
Cascades from cheapest plastic
Some, a few
But eggs or chestnuts make the sales
Keep the streets alive with smells
Tofu, eggplant, pineapple
Dusty carts laden with foods
Stand on corners by the roads
Under the bridges
And next to the lights
Walking through another time
Breathing smoke and dust and grime
Staying close to locals to make it through the roads
The weaving cars, buses, bikes
Cross safely to the other side
I asked Samantha what prompted this piece and she said…
My inspiration for this came whilst teaching English as a Foreign Language in Wuhan in 2009 (where I also gained inspiration for my short story, Xìngfú*). Whilst my inspiration for Xìngfú came from my feeling of being lost and searching, however, it was very different for Huózhe. I wrote this poem having returned from a day of teaching in the local school.
* which will be posted on this blog this coming Friday.
When I left the school I remember I was feeling tired and grouchy; I was not pleased with how my lesson planning had panned out during the last lesson. I wanted simply to get back, open some (fairly awful) red wine, and watch something on the internet. Between leaving work and getting back, though, all that changed; something was in the air that evening and the whole area just felt different.
As I passed the park I saw the usual evening fitness dance happening just inside the entrance. On this occasion the dancers were elderly and the pace particularly slow. The music straining into the air from the ghetto blaster was meditative, yet mournful and somehow disturbing as well. An erhu was being played deeper into the park and the sounds were competing. I forgot all about wine and my bad lesson. I stood transfixed, and by the time I roused myself to carry on walking, I was relaxed.
As I rounded the corner of the park and started up the metal stairs that led a walkway over the busy main roads to my block of flats on the other side, I looked up and noticed that the entire length of the walkway was lit up. It was some kind of street market but not one of the usual ones further out in the city. There was no particular reason for it that I was aware of, and I didn’t see it there again. The market stretched all the way along the road on the park’s side and all across the bridge.
Cheap lights lit the bridge as I got to the top of the stairs and people along the metal expanse were calling to me to look at their wares. The smells of the different produce mixed with the usual Wuhan street scents and I felt light. I suddenly didn’t want to be alone inside the depressing flat and so, instead of crossing the bridge, I walked back down the steps and along the strip of market.
Eventually my tiredness and hunger kicked in fully though. I walked back towards the steps to cross the bridge. As I reached them I noticed that the entire walkway was now full with people; I couldn’t really face the walk across. Trying to cross the maze of busy and chaotic roads felt a step too far though, but as I stood deliberating, a group of locals closeby set about crossing them. So I joined them…it was terrifying but they seemed to know the way to do things, and before I knew it I was in my flat and writing Huózhe.
Thank you, Samantha. It was very vivid. What a wonderful place to be.
Samantha holds a degree in English Literature with Film Studies from Kingston University, London, which she gained at age thirty. Since then she has spent the last nine years writing seriously, having undertaken a fiction writing module via Open University and completed her first young adult fantasy novel, The Sister Worlds.
Samantha began telling stories from a young age, hiding herself away for an hour or so here and there while she spun her tales, living by her imagination (as much as possible within the bounds of reality!) whilst growing up. She began writing the odd poem during her teens, but it wasn’t until her late twenties whilst at university that she understood her true love for writing.
Her tastes are eclectic, not only in her own writing, but in the form and genre of the writing of others. She is inspired by Virginia Woolf and Christina Rossetti, amongst many others, including the work of Jane Austen, Philip K. Dick, Ellen Miller, and Zeruya Shalev. She has most recently been drawn to the work of Abraham Verghese. Her love for the magical and fantastical in fiction is relentless; she has particularly enjoyed the work of Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth in this respect, and once studied Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in relation to Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner. Samantha also has a strong interest in human relationships and mental health, and a love for the innocence of young children and the life and hope they instil in tired-out grown-ups.
With experience as an editor, proofreader and researcher, Samantha is well accomplished and finds this useful when writing and, of course, editing her own work.
Her proofreading and editing experience comprises a website research and editing project for the charity Re-Cycle, the proofreading and editing of a website story – also for Re-Cycle – together with the editing of their August and September newsletters; also a novel, short story, and flash fiction piece for author Elizabeth Los, a novel excerpt for author & translator Jasmine Heydari, and the website area and biographies for global broadcast production company Clean Cut Media Ltd. She has also read and edited various documentation including minutes, website material, presentations and more, as part of her administrative background.
Samantha had her article, Manners, published in www.eatmemagazine.com, and she previously ran a creative writing group on a voluntary basis for Mungos charity.
She is currently writing her second novel and working on a series of children’s books for illustrator Ella Parry. She regularly writes fiction pieces both for her own website, and to be entered into various competitions.
If you’d like to submit your poem (60 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here or a poem for critique on the Online Poetry Writing Group (link below).
- and from this blog, advice from Alice Shapiro, Angelita Williams, Cendrine Marrouat, John J Hohn, Kerry Hammerton, Phillip Ellis.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything.
You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and if you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.
For anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.
If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday here and on four online writing groups.