Thursday, December 27, 2018

#52 Backstory of the Poem "Under Surveillance" by Michael Farry . .

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***This is the fifty-second in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#52 Backstory of the Poem
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?   It first suggested itself when I was left in charge of my six month old grandson, Liam, (Right) home on holidays with his mother from Australia, and felt the delight of having him, mixed with the anxiety of being in charge accentuated by his mother’s frequent enquiries.
I wrote a quick prose draft in my notebook (Left - Draft One). I then copied this into my computer, starting the process of shaping it into a rough free form poem. This contained the essential elements of the finished poem, including the photograph mention, but it was still rough and contained much that was later abandoned. The photograph was later changed into a selfie.
Then I edited the drafts working towards making the poem more concise, using the text messages sent by my daughter as an important element. I also decided on working towards a particular shape, the four lines of each stanza increasing in length to give some shape and structure. Much that I deemed inessential was cut.
After about four drafts I had a finished poem, more or less as it appeared in the collection. (Above Right:  Draft Two) 

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail.   The idea came to me as I sat in the sitting room looking after Liam on that day. After Liam’s mother came home and took over, I scribbled down the first draft in the notebook. This and the work on the computer was done in my office/den/library, a converted garage whose walls are cluttered by books, certificates, prints, photographs, posters and paintings, which also has various little and large owl ornaments, one stuffed owl, and numerous children’s toys dumped in a corner.

What month and year did you start writing this poem?   April 2014.

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)   I have copies of five drafts in my “Versions” folder for the year 2014. I don’t save every draft. (Right: Draft Three)  I also have the original scribbled draft in my “Wuthering Heights” (Below Left) notebook.

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version?  And can you share them with us? The draft started with this “introduction” which I removed early on:
Grandad’s in charge
of the warm bundle
asleep upstairs.

The final line with its echo of a Yeats’ (Right)  ending came very late, only appearing in the next to final draft.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?   The delight and apprehension of a grandfather in charge of a fragile grandson. Males also have deep feelings! How so much can be conveyed (I hope) in a very short poem.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?   The ending in particular with the grandfather and grandson together by themselves for what was a very brief time. The grandchild returned to Australia but I’m happy to say the whole family came home to settle in Ireland a couple of years later.

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where?
As well as bring published in the collection The Age of Glass (Revival Press, Limerick, Ireland, 2017) it was published in the first issue of the quarterly poetry publication Flare published by The Sunflower Sessions, Dublin.

Under Surveillance

The monitor
shows him on his right side,
hands tight together, placid,
a slight rise and fall of his chest.

Queries by text
from the shopping centre,
Stirring? Crying? Up yet?
keep my eyes fixed on the screen.

Sixteen minutes
later he stirs, wakes,
stares at something bright,
deflating balloons or shelf of bears.

I come alive,
prepare the baby bottle
five spoons of formula,
microwave for twenty seconds.

After his feed
we gurgle nonsense,
swap giddy laughs, brief
glee in each other’s company.

In reply to
Awake? Ounces? Nappy?
I take and send a selfie:
two males, both happy, one exultant.

Michael Farry, who lives in Trim, Ireland, is a retired teacher, a poet and an historian. He has had two poetry collection published, Asking for Directions, by Doghouse Books, Tralee, in 2012 and The Age of Glass, by Revival Press, Limerick in 2017.

He was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions 2011. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK, America, Israel, India, Australia and Canada and poems of his have won prizes in competitions including the Dromineer Poetry Competition . 

His history book, Sligo, The Irish Revolution 1912-1923, was published in 2012 by Four Courts Press, Dublin.

On Facebook and Twitter.
Blog: (Needs updating but you can purchase the collection there.)


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

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