Is this my city yet?

31 Mar


This city is a fruit bowl,

blazes orange dusk, ripens

in the summer months.


This city holds so many limes

so close to its crumbly red

porcelain chest, chipped

and grimed, fresh from foreign fields.


This city feels like mango,

the squashier the better,

rippling and shifting under

a compact skin.


This city’s thin.

This city’s growing, and I,

I who have stepped over bananas before now,

I who miss still the ocean’s hush and the smell

of sand and fish, I grow

within this unsure basket, drooling

and dripping with nectar.


A first draft which I liked. Still trying to pinpoint Nottingham – let me know your thoughts.



10 Responses to “Is this my city yet?”

  1. Jeiran April 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    I completely love the metaphors and imagery, its all very warm and vibrant. Strangely enough I still want more from this poem. It seems you’re trying to keep it fruity but then snap to person stuff aswell. I more of that would be nice. I think it could do with more … uph? Poem is sickly sweet- almost. Maybe some more nitty gritty? More specificity I guess is what I mean. I hope this helps.

    I LOVE these lines:

    I generally really love the opening stanza
    “This city is a fruit bowl,

    blazes orange dusk, ripens

    in the summer months.”


    porcelain chest, chipped

    This city feels like mango,

    I who miss still the ocean’s hush and the smell

  2. mouthypoets April 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    I wasn’t sure at first, but I like it. The ‘unsure’ basket – the idea of it ‘rippling and shifting under a compact skin’. You ‘stepping over bananas’ until now, missing the sand and fish.
    I’m not sure about the crumbly red porcelain of the fruit bowl, it made me think about red brick I suppose, but I didn’t get that it was the china of the fruit bowl straight away. It makes Nottingham seem too exotic I suppose, for me – limes and mangoes – perhaps that’s what held me back at first, I wasn’t sure if you were talking about some far off place – but then I thought, actually Nottingham has all of that in it, from all the places across the world, it is a huge melting pot/fruit bowl – but maybe I would start with it being a grey, industrial, commercial place first and then uncover it as a fruit bowl – but then it is your view of the city not mine – but I think you get across the growing attachment to the place. How important is it that we know it is Nottingham rather than any new city you’ve moved to? This is Anne by the way!
    Oh – is there something you could do about the form/shape/stanza length? You start with 3 lines and then move on to 4, then 4 – I kind of expected it to have some kind of pattern to it?

    • Ruth April 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      I’ve just come back home from a short visit to Nottingham. I don’t know the city – I always sit in someone’s house drinking tea but every now and then I have a peek at a part of the place.

      “This city is a fruit bowl”
      – yes! A wide, shallow fruit bowl. I have to drive down the sloping sides from Sherwood or down to Sneinton Market.

      “crumbly red porcelain chest, chipped and grimed,”
      – absolutely yes! We don’t have those small, almost impoverished, mean red bricks where I live. The decorative ones stick out like uneven teeth suggesting cogs of industry but newly cleaned as if from a trip to the hygenist.

      “This city holds so many limes ……, fresh from foreign fields.”
      Driving, my sense of direction failed me and I ended up in Hyson Green. It was as if I had been whisked away on a magic carpet to another land.

      “mango, the squashier the better, rippling and shifting under
      a compact skin.”
      Fantastic description of a mango but I don’t get it in connection with Nottingham.

      “This city’s thin”
      Why is it “thin” – I don’t understand this.

      I find Nottingham exciting. It has so much all in one place – so much culture when as a snooty southerner I wasn’t expecting it.

    • Matt April 8, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      Cheers Anne, I’ll have another look over it

  3. mouthypoets April 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I can see there is lots of feedback here – which I didn’t see when writing up this feedback offline but hopefully it is still useful and if not I am happy to look at the new edit once its up and start fresh! …

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed reading it. Do you think this piece will play any part in your Say Sum Thin piece with Jeren? I think the potential is there, could Nottingham be the ultimate destination of your train journey? Anyway, some additional feedback on the poem, I hope it is helpful!

    -Favorite stanza…
    “This city feels like mango,
    the squashier the better,
    rippling and shifting under
    a compact skin.”
    -I love the idea of missing “the smell of sand and fish”
    -The end really made me salivate and I think the point you are making is beautiful and nuanced but it also feels a little incomplete. Maybe some of the suggestions below might help you flesh this poem out…
    -I think this line is fantastic as a metaphor for a place “ ripens in the summer months.” However I am not sure about the first two lines, the fruit bowl feels like a used reference within poetry and literature more broadly. As are oranges and I don’t really understand what you mean by that line? Do you think there is a way to make the ripening line as the first line maybe simultaneously freshening up the images e.g. This city is a Plantain wrapped tight in a brown paper bag on the window (this is how you ripen them). This gives a more specific and fresh reference.
    – “This city holds so many limes”, although I do challenge the verb ‘holds’ … do you think you could find a better one? I find it hard to imagine a city ‘holding’ something as this poem isn’t personifying the city for it have hands – if you get what I mean? In fact that holds stanza brings in a sense of personification that is quiet jarring. I do like it thought, maybe it might be worth turning the whole poem into personification, e.g. …
    Nottingham only eats
    Papaya, plantain and lime.
    Her hair blazes orange dusk
    Her tongue ripens in the summer months.
    -I think this approach will push the concision of your images and also help you explore your relationship with the city from a personal level.

    Warmest Regards from Croatia!

  4. Matt April 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi, firstly, sorry Ruth and Jeren, when I posted my comment thanking Anne, I had not seen your comments, why? I dunno, ’tis bizarre. Thanks, both of you, for your comments, they’re greatly appreciated and will continue to be chewed, enjoyed and digested. Ruth I particularly love the link of the fruit bowl idea to the geography of the city – not necessarily something I’d thought of first hand but entirely applicable. Isn’t it great when readers bring new things?

    Deb – I’ll have a look over with your comments in mind, but some of your more radical changes – the re-write towards the end and the banana in the bag for instance – these are surely now your ideas and not mine. Perhaps you could answer this poem with a Nottingham/fruit related poem and we could enter a dialectal poetic discourse on what Nottingham is for us through the medium of edible goods? Perhaps this process has already begun? If so, I will attempt to answer – but in terms of changes to this poem, I wouldn’t feel I owned some of those more radical changes. For one, I detest banana and would be unlikely to write about them, certainly not in a positive way. Do you see what I mean? I hugely appreciate the feedback, and

    Nottingham only eats
    Papaya, plantain and lime.
    Her hair blazes orange dusk
    Her tongue ripens in the summer months.

    is absolutely lovely. and absolutely yours. Your work in answer to mine, which is honestly very touching. Shall we continue our exploration of Nottingham?

    • Jeiran April 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      Maybe we could incorporate this into the day show? I’ve just got the go ahead with Debris for the show, the only problem is finding the space- suggested Cast? Quite nice one too, nice space to sit and have coffee with people directed over there. Sounds good right?

  5. mouthypoets April 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    What I like about this overall is that while you’ve stuck to quite a rigid theme (fruit analogies), you’ve actually used that to convey something specific, rather than just for its own sake – not just in the ideas and emotions (“nectar” is just generally a lovely word, and I absolutely love the last line) but in specific images and words. I loved the thing about “blazes orange dusk”, orange being both a color and a fruit, and “this city holds so many limes” is such an unexpected and original line, it’s a total curveball.

    The one negative I’ll raise here is that the whole “this city’s thin/this city’s growing” line reads… kind of weird. I think it’s because with both lines starting “this city’s”, I expect the stanza to be a list of things, and then when you turn the second into a new point, it sort of lurches.

    But really nice, overall, I really like this piece!

    – Patrick

    • Matt April 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Cheers Patrick, for the positives. I feel I agree with your negatives- that middle bit where I’ve dropped into a cheap rhyme is the weakest – originally, it brought me onto the last bit, which I also like, so we mustn’t be too mean about said middle bit, or it’ll cry. But I may change it, or move it to somewhere where it’s tears don’t matter – like the recycling bin or a draft’s folder of rejected lines which I keep.

  6. mouthypoets April 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Hey Matt,

    Sorry if my feedback was unclear – it was written on one of many 10 hour bus journeys.

    I didn’t want you to take my suggestions, but more the idea of them. To innovate the image in a way that made it more specific experience, as the banana does with my own. Feedback and editorial advice works on many level – sometimes you can take exactly what I just suggested but most of the time I hope my suggestions make you explore your own work in a way that makes your own aims and objectives more clear.


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