‘Backpacking in Nepal, June 1971’ by Albert Tatlock is our Poem of the Week
Congratulations to Albert Tatlock for becoming the latest winner of Write Out Loud Poem of the Week with his piece ‘Backpacking in Nepal, June 1971'. When we asked him to reply to our questions he paid tribute to a comment made on ‘Backpacking' which helped him see where it needed changing. “sometimes we get too close to our stuff” he says, and thanks Ray for his input. If ever you needed proof of the value of posting comments on work you like, there it is!
What got you into writing poetry?
I got into poetry as I love words - the sheer beauty of language - words shape who we are and what we are. Poetry is the most exquisite art form there I know. It can be bawdy or delicate but remains beautiful. Poetry is my obsession really. My 'scratching on the cell wall' . The sheer pleasure of 'getting it right' - what a buzz! And the frustrations when the words just won't come.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing poetry on and off for years but 'on' for the past 5-6 years since my prose writing petered out and I discovered open-mic nights.
Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I go to as many open-mics as I can - in Yorkshire mainly - but Lincs too. I love the sheer ebullience of performing as I step out of my silent reclusive life and turn into a whole new character. I really enjoy doing my stuff to an audience of non-poetical people Seeing them 'get it' is magic.
Jim Higo's 'Away With Words' is a favourite local do - and there's Gorilla in Sheffield. Romp in Rotherham - and Rosie Drew's venue in York and josie Moon hosts a small regular meeting in Grimsby - I like that too.
Who’s your favourite poet? And poem?
My favourite poet is probably Paul Durcan - or Dylan Thomas - or W.B. - or James Joyce - or Malcolm Lowry (albeit he's a novelist who write wonderfully poetically). My favourite poem generally becomes the one I've just read.
You’re cast away on a desert island. What’s your luxury?
My luxury would have to be a notepad with thesaurus app. I think that if I was denied the possibility of expressing thoughts I would go pop!
Backpacking in Nepal, June 1971
by Albert Tatlock
Resting in a hill station guest-house,
over the worst of dysentery
the bazaar dealer's tab,
“Yellow Sunshine. San Francisco. Good shit."
is starting to hit
and I'm smoking a chillum of charas.
Through the fog of writhing smoke
and dancing rainbow mountain mists,
I watch a woman,
a Mahavidya - maybe
pad the jasmine track
to a distant wayside shrine.
Pennants and wind chimes
line the pathway.
Incense drapes the trees.
She sings a hymn;
echoing against granite crags
returning in the songs of birds
it entrances me
as it mystifies me -
her gods are not known to me,
all gods are unknown to me.
She made the journey yesterday,
and the day before.
I feel the pulse of
foot... foot... foot
bruising the grass.
And with each thud
the sighing of rooted blades
that would walk beside her
if they could.
I am rooted too.