16 October 2012

Tuesday Poem: On Contemplating The Statue Of Courtney Love Outside The Front Entrance Of Nelson College for Girls

The sculptor has caught Courtney in the act of running away,
her uniform already half removed, the blue of the blazer (optional)
offsetting the pallor of her skin. She lasted just one term
yet is the most famous Old Girl of them all.

No telling what she’s running from: maths, tyranny,
the restraints – petty? essential? – that fence her round.
It’s all in her past, or in her genes. Hardly the College’s fault
that they caught her in the middle of a very difficult year.

As for what she’s running to: the hardest of all fates,
doomed to be more famous for whom she loved
than what she’s done. Kurt is still better known
than Hole, than Celebrity Skin, than the sound of her guitar.

Courtney is caught in the act as she makes a break for town.
One foot is raised, one shoe slipping off.
One hand grasps at nothing, or punches the air.
In the shadow of her plinth, a small boy sells lemonade.

Credit note: This is a new, unpublished (and very possibly unfinished) poem.

Tim says: I wrote this poem in Nelson, inspired by walking past - you guessed it - the front entrance of Nelson College for Girls. Some parts of this poem are true: Courtney did attend Nelson College for Girls for one term, it was a less than ideal experience for all concerned, and a small boy did have a lemonade stand further along the street. The lemonade was very sweet, but also very welcome on a hot Nelson day.

The Tuesday Poem: Is just a poetic click away for all of y'all.


Michelle Elvy said...

love this, Tim, unfinished or not. I like how it moves from the moment (past) to the future and all it holds (and doesn't), then back to the present moment, catching those small details that are possibly insignificant but possibly not. I like how we just don't quite know what is significant in this (her) story. I like how it captures a moment of intent (that uniform-half-removes) and the subsequent moments of loss. It catches all this just right, for me. And I never knew she attended the Nelson College for Girls....

Mike Crowl said...

Enjoyable poem for two reasons: discovering Love's NZ connection (I've now learned that her mother bought a farm here...! and claimed to be the daughter of Marlon Brando)and for the picture it paints of Love in a kind of ambiguous mid-stride. The 'punching the air' line echoes some other poem/piece of writing, but I can't think what.

Penelope said...

I do hope someone makes such a statue now Tim. With a space for the poem that inspired it, of course.

AJ Ponder said...

Compelling reading - how remiss of the school to not fete their delinquent so appropriately.

Helen Lowe said...

Enjoyed this Tim--I like the way you weave themes musicale, both real and fantastical, into your poetry...;-)

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Michelle, Mike, Penelope, AJ and Helen!

I was bold (rash?) enough to read this then-just-completed poem at my reading in Nelson a couple of weeks ago, and it went over really well - so the campaign for a statue has already gathered some momentum. I am thinking of trying it on the Nelson Daily Mail next.

Mike, you know more than I - all I know is that the then and current principal refused to have her back to speak to the girls 15 years ago, but says she would be welcome back now.

Penelope, a sixteen-lines-plus-stanza-breaks-high plinth sounds just right to shade a lemonade stall, so I agree with you.

AJ, Hole recently reunited for a concert to celebrate "Hits So Hard", the biopic of their drummer Patty Schemel - I don't see why NCG couldn't be their next venue.

Helen, thank you! Not only did I write this poem in Nelson, I also wrote a couple of stanzas of a poem about another female guitarist ... might I be on the way to producing the world's most focused poetry collection?

Kathleen Jones said...

Love it Tim - especially the way you handle the narrative.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Kathleen! Because I am mainly writing short stories at the moment, I have noticed the few poems I've been writing tend to take on a narrative cast.

Mike Crowl said...

I only know more because of that ever-helpful site, Wikipedia...! Useful trivia for some future parlour game no doubt...

Tim Jones said...

If I ever run a pub quiz, Mike - something that I have thought from time to time I would like to do - then questions about Courtney Love will form at least one of the rounds!