Processes of writing a poem – “Powder”


Frantic frontman Fowler flagrantly flouted
Convention – cocaine-snorting celebration.
Marvellous, manic Maradona
Wild with wide-eyed wonder.

Powder polishes and prettifies
Flatters features, fixes flaws on freckled faces.
Subtle, superficial, shallow. Skin-deep,
Mercurial mask makes marks more mellifluous.

Chemical compound creates carbon
Dioxide, delivers delightful dough.
Miniscule microorganism multiplies,
Bakes bread and brews beer.

Calcium Carbonate
Settles scores,
Records results,
Chalks cues.

Polyfilla penetrates
Ugly, unsightly
Cracks and crevices.
Picture perfect plaster.

Dip Dab delightfully dazzles
Taste-buds. Tongue-tinglingly tasty treat!
Sherbet sizzles, satisfies sugar
Cravings, comforts cross kids.

Perfectly packaged powder
Conditions and cleanses clothes,
Fragrant and flowery fresh.
Washes whites wondrously well.

Bournville born of burning
Ambition – aimed at ameliorating austerity.
Cultivated cocoa – cash crop, countless
Profits. Paradisiacal paradigm poignantly punctured.

Bathtime – bubbles burst
Softly seducing sensuous skin.
Talc treats tired toes
Flaky fungal infection fought off!

Tired toes tread on textured
Rugs – refreshed, renewed
Shake’n’Vac showered spreads
Sweet scents of spring.

Fairy dust floats, fulfils fantasies
Magnificent, magical, mysterious – makes
Wishes work wondrously.
Careful consideration called for.

I came up with the idea of a poem based on powder, as a way of linking together seemingly disconnected ideas.

I started with a list – make-up powder, cocaine, baking powder, washing up powder, cocoa powder, talcum powder, athlete’s foot powder, yeast, Polyfilla, chalk, sherbet, fairy dust, Shake ‘n’ Vac.

I like alliterative poetry, so decided to make each line alliterate and each verse would deal with a different sort of powder (although in the process of writing, I broke this rule – I don’t believe in slavishly following formal rules for the sake of it). Alliterative poetry and riddles are two of the oldest genres in English, and this poem combines elements of both.

“A dance is a walk which is felt” (Shklovsky, a Russian Formalist critic). Poetry roughens language and foregrounds our perceptions. It makes us rethink how we see the world, stops us taking things for granted, shakes up the way we see things and works on a subconscious level.

I finished with “fairy dust” as a contrast to other, seemingly mundane and concrete items, to highlight that even seemingly ordinary substances can be “magical” and “wondrous” – my aim was to explore sensations and link disparate, disconnected objects. I hope I came some way to succeeding – but poems can always be improved and there is a tendency to tinker with each bit of language – so the first version on paper (or computer) rarely turns out to be the last. The poem is simply called “Powder” at the moment – if you can think of a better title, please let me know!


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