My book-length narrative poem 'Becoming' was published in March 2007 by Second Light Publications. Here are details about the book.
Clary has left the professional music scene where she was dominated by her controlling father. The poem follows her as she carves out another career and explores new relationships. Other women in her life are also at a watershed. The theme of the poem is women of different ages finding themselves.
This is how Kate Foley describes the poem in her review of it in Second Light Newsletter:
Becoming - or the politics of painfully piecing together a self and practicing your art in a world largely shaped by men. Myra Schneider's vigorous narrative poem encapsulates the psychological, social and yes, political pressures that women experience when trying to establish a valid and satisfying life based on the practice of any art form. Because this is a vivid story with characters who leap off the page; because it emphatically doesn't preach or offer solutions and because it lays bare the complex muddle of history and pressure at the root of one woman's attempt to find herself in her art, it's a must-read for those of us who ruefully recognise the central struggle.
You'll notice that I don't say 'establishing a career in the arts.' Is Clary, centre of this story, whom we first meet in the silent music room of her school, where the instruments are 'mute mouthed' simply avoiding the brilliant career as a 'top musician' that could be hers, because she has fled form her father's pressure? Is she like the flute in her own dream, iced up? Or is she quietly trying to live a different kind of life, one not equally valued by the world but soaked in the values of music an musical communication?
push in the pasta.
Look how the strings
submerge, soften, weave together
like phrases weaving into a tune...
Pity the glitzy girl running for the bus
can't be counterpointed by a wind instrument
with body but I'll back it with recorders
Oh here's the Parmesan -
hiding behind the teapot. The pot's almost
as blue as the shadow in that wood
I went to with Father years ago .....'
This is how her review ends:
'Schneider is a consummate story teller and if you are interested in the tale of how one talented woman grew to confront her demons, read this quietly ambitious poem that achieves its aim of engaging the mind, heart and senses in a core human narrative.'
Anne Cluysenaar has said of this poem:
'Becoming centres on the highly individual voices of four people as they help each other to escape from intricate patterns of prejudice, frustration and self-doubt. Expert plotting sets up tensions contrasts, echoes, cuts unexpectedly from voice to voice, while evocative descriptions engage the imagination. Becoming recaptures for modern poetry the neglected ground of dramatic narrative.'
This is how 'Becoming' begins:
quiet the school could be wrapped
in layers of tissue paper, so quiet
I can hear the emptiness in the corridor.
It even feels as if I'm being watched by the rows
of desks and the mute-mouthed instruments
in the cupboards.
Soon the silence will go
but for the moment I can stare outside -
not at those two girls scrabbling
for God knows what in each other's hair -
but at the trees rising above the rabble of roofs
and awful Leatherland. They look vulnerable
without leaves and the sky's sludgy as the river
in the dream I struggled from at six.
I spent last night trying to banish
his face pouched with anger. I made myself
practise my flute, drank a tumbler of wine
but even listening to Gershwin I could hear him
rubbishing me from his hospital bed:
you've never once thought how it feels
to be me, your father. Years and years
I spent training you to be a top musician
and you squander yourself on classes of morons
who pack their ears with electronic racket.'
He faded a bit when that guy, Bob, who's moved
into the flat above started up some late
night dance routine.
one-two-threeing with a ghost partner
across the floor finally lulled me to sleep
but only to dream I was on a skating rink trying
to play The Blue Danube with the flute's holes
icing up. Then he pounced: 'Don't give me blue,
the river's grey as your face, and you're too late…'
Too late was Father's theme all afternoon,
even while he was gobbling a jammy scone.
forget it, Clary, you did shout back
you wouldn't be steamrollered and slammed
from his room… Special Needs first. Push back
the desks and get out the bongo drums,
xylophones and the rest of it. Come on,
hit the Chinese gong, its implacable face...
Now touch the piano's yellowed keys.
They answer softly.
The book is available from Second Light or from Myra for £5.95 post free.
Dilys Wood: email@example.com
Myra Schneider: firstname.lastname@example.org
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