2007

7.7.21 I’m (re)learning German. I’m two weeks into a two month course, and I’m crap at it. It’s where I expected to be. I’m mixing my Dutch and German like slops in cheap lager.

I’m under attack from the word changes, using the right modification in the right place. It seems so complicated and awkward.

But you know what I see? I see immense potential for poetry. If the word itself makes the contextual meaning clear, the word order is there for the poetry. You can’t do this in English; word order specifies meaning, mucking around with word order reduces meaning. It also allows words to work at a deeper, musical level, or so my poetry (hopefully) shows…I believe.

I can see why German is such a good language for poetry. All I need do is learn, learn, learn…
7.3.10 I’m writing a lot less poetry at the moment. February was the first month in years when I wrote nothing.
  • I’ve come to the end of the explorations I wanted to do with grammar. Some more such work may appear in the future, but, for now, I want to rest it and gain a little distance, to see if I can work out if it achieved what I wanted it to achieve.
  • There is something new around, something that might be realised, something absurbist. It’s not cooked enough yet.
  • I found when I revitalised my knowledge of C++ (the programming language), it took edge from poetry.
  • Learning some Dutch has had no effect, beyond stealing evenings.
7.1.30 A few years ago, I gave up photography. I was getting very annoyed with the dreaded rectangle, the harsh right–angled frame of every photograph. I’d started to subvert it, but it wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I decided to concentrate on poems. This was absolutely the right decision; I’ve since taken my poetry from imitation to some originality.

Now, though, when I find myself writing poems about taking photographs, I know it–s time to reconsider. I find I want to use details from the incredible Flemish architecture around me to continue that subversion process.

But I got rid of all my camera kit: Pentax Me Supers, many lenses, studio kit, and more (the story’s complex). I need new equipment.

I’m more than happy to move to digital; even then, I was transferring 35mm film to photo–CD for post–processing. Admittedly, most of the post–processing consisted of undoing the damage done by the transfer (though not all of it).

So I’m looking at digital SLRs. I want a good quality and rugged camera that takes decent pictures automatically, but allows me to override its settings when the picture so demands.

The camera I’d really love to buy is a Nikon D2Xs. But it’s a professional camera at a professional price. It’s out of my range.

When I entered my list of preferred features into DP Review, it suggested the Sony DSLR–A100, the Pentax K10D, and the Samsung GX–10. Although the Sony is significantly cheaper, the rumour mill has made it clear they’ve had some quality problems, and I really don't want to be caught up in that kind of thing. The Samsung is the same camera as the Pentax; I'm not sure what the differences are apart from labels. So it looks like a Pentax for me … again.

The one problem with the Pentax, though, which came out in some reviews, is sharpness. It’s not the camera itself, but the software that converts a raw image into a JPG. Fortunately, the Pentax can save the original raw photo, so I can retain the sharpness, if necessary, by using alternative software on my computer to do the compression.

I haven’t bought the camera. If I do, it’s going to take me a while to get my composition skills back. So don’t expect any posts just yet.
7.1.1 I suppose it’s been an unusual year for me.

New Year 2005 saw me unemployed, finally caught in the dot com crash. The minimal acting skills I developed at the local unemployment club certainly seemed to have been useful; I had an accidental role in a film earlier this (er…last) year. That’s that, though. Most of 2005 was spent working on small time contracts, with gratefully received pick–me–ups from the social security system. Things improved in December when I started work with a company in Flanders, on a new model of commercial printer.

So New Year 2006 saw me about to move to Antwerp. Unfortunately, that client’s managing director died suddenly, and his temporary replacement cancelled lots of R&D. So, despite having come for two years work, I found myself moving on after four months. Luxembourg beckoned; I moved there for work in PC Security in May. In the middle of that contract, I was offered work in November in Mechelen, back in Flanders, working with medical devices. That’s where I am now.

In consequence, my cat spent six months in prison in Kettering. Whilst it’s amusing to know she terrified the cattery staff, it meant she got little attention beyond target practice. I got her to Luxembourg in June. She recovered, after a few incidents; she’s here now, asleep on top of my laptop case.

I suspect the moves adversely affected my poetry. I don’t hear nearly so much now, except at conferences (Poetry Now ‘06 in Dublin, and this year’s Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry, where I read). Judge for yourself; this site includes podcasts of some of this year’s poems.

The strangest moment of 2006 was being raided by the Luxembourg vice squad. Someone had reported a prostitute working from my block of flats, so they raided every one. Fortunately, they kept the results quiet; nobody knows I didn’t find myself helping the police with their enquiries; my reputation’s safe. That presumes, of course, no one reads this blog…

Anyone who really knows me knows I’m crap at languages. I’ve always told myself the only way I’d pick one up is to live in a place where it’s spoken. This has proven true, to some extent; Luxembourg improved my French, Flanders has given me elementary Dutch. But almost everyone, in both countries, speaks English; so even when I live in places where they speak the language, they damn well don’t to me! Bah!

Where will I be this time next year? I really don’t know. But I have a hankering to work in Germany; there must be some chance that’ll happen. But, in my business, I never really know which company, where, will want my skills. I’m confident I’ll be somewhere in the EU, that’s all; subject, of course, to the mad whims of Murphy’s law.

Anyway, enough burble: a happy New Year to you.

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