Hot September


Thick and dry, the September air,

No storms to tear

The rain-filled cloud,

No torrents loud.


Silent the bright September sky,

Birds that should fly

Hide in the hedge

From sun’s sharp edge.


Parched and dry, September trees,

No humming bees,

Spring’s flowers dead,

Their brightness fled.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

18 thoughts on “Hot September”

  1. THIS is a grand example of what we were talking about the other day. You see this to me, in my humble estimate, is why the pastoral reflection is probably the poem or prose staying longest in imagination. We can all lie down, see in our minds eye, that beautiful painting and then hope for words like you have written to put poetry to such beauty. And those who can do that (you) are the poets who outlast the fads, because they write from the heart. You say you write about ‘things’ rather than emotions, but they provoke more emotion than if you wrote about emotion because you do not hand us the emotion, you pull it from us, by the words of your observation, and how you are able to create from the ‘things’ the feelings. That is what I was trying to say the other day (badly) I hope it’s clearer now and you know why your place will always be, as a poet who both emotes and evokes, whether writing about green hills, sunshine or spring, there are such lives within all of them by the way you structure and pull them from your eyes.

    1. Reading this comment has made me so happy! You describe exactly how I feel about poetry in general. Emotion on its own seems to me to be not enough. It has to be linked to something concrete, tangible and immutable in nature. We as human beings, despite what many of us think, are not the hub of the universe. What we experience, are moved by to tears or laughter, all our emotions come not from our little insignificant selves, but from the natural world that surrounds us. The world, universe, nature, whatever reflects our feelings, translates them into something we can see and feel. So the ‘poetry’ that equates love with lust, emotion with desire, grief with frustration at not attaining the object of desire, feel to me so flat and uninteresting because they’re just me me me, and who cares about you? Thanks again for giving me so much encouragement. I put a lot into my writing and your words help fend off the disappointment that literary agents won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

      1. Literary agents WILL touch it with a ten foot pole, but you know how it goes in the poetry publishing world (slowly, almost invisibly) this isn’t you this is the world of poetry these days. It is too easy to write as you say about ourselves, directly and egocentrically thinking everyone wants to know, when really we want a universal understanding. I might be wrong but I recall reading about pastoral poems how they hoped to write about the meaning of the world through the senses and experiences of nature, as that is what first gave us thought more so than the hyperbole of human interaction. I really relate to this because human interaction has become so dull and going for a walk seeing something outside of us, that is what is the miracle these days. So if you write, you write about the experience not your self and from that, you can relate yourself, or anyone, and it is not so personalized as to be redundant to most readers. I totally get that. I don’t achieve it as I often do write exactly that way, but that’s as you said, more of a catharsis than actual ‘poem’ which is an art form and thus, has more regulation than mere reguritation of emotion. I understand that so well and the idea of ‘translation’ being key to this, the best poetry translating as a photograph, something we see but taking it beyond that initial vision. I think you do that when you write, VERY well because you are not hung up on yourself, you can claim the world not just your own emotions, that takes some doing, even some of the greats didn’t achieve it (Keats! Plath! Sexton!) but some did (Tennyson, Shelly, Pynchon) so it’s about focus. Too easy these days with selfie world to focus on the self, soon I hope we’ll be utterly contemptible.

      2. Maybe you’re right, that there’s a limit to how deeply egocentric we can become before we’re coming out of our own arses. I’d like to think that something, some movement will stop it. It will have to be fashion fueled because I don’t believe even a monumental natural disaster will stop humanity taking selfies of itself.
        I’ve never tried to sell my poetry to a publisher. Single poems in magazines and reviews, but never whole collections. It has never occurred to me to try. I must be the only writer who writes pretty good English who has queried my novels to around 70 literary agents and has never been asked to submit even a partial manuscript. I’m sure it’s a record. I’m only counting my attempts in the last few years, not my very first attempt, twenty years ago with a very amateurish manuscripts which did get requested though finally (luckily!) wasn’t accepted. I do still occasionally query agents, just to see if my knack for turn-off hasn’t faded.

      3. I think a time will come when it is seen as you say, as unfashionable to bare all and privacy will once more come into fashion. It is unfortunate that it would come this way but that’s very true, it is not going to come the way it should because the earth could burn before anyone did anything (and does) so it’s going to be something superficial that engages people enough to make change and stop being so navel gazing. I personally miss the days where people had secret lives, both interior and without. Nowadays we know too much and there is such a thing as knowing too much. Poets used to be the keepers of the interior lives, they would convey them through metaphor or some device, and that way avoid total censure. Now is anything still censured except the truth? 😉 (steps down from soap-box). In my limited experience, the publishers seem to publish their friends, or the 15 minute famers. I know a famous poet who has about ten books with a huge publisher, she got the deal because her dad knew them, nowadays she writes almost by rote it’s disheartening and I find consolation in remembering many great writers were not appreciated enough but nevertheless are great writers. If we know what we have to say has merit, that often is more accurate than any other validation because it has less motive. I’d rather be criticized honestly than complimented dishonestly. Despite that, I know your work is of a very high standard and 70 literary agents isn’t so much I knew a poor soul who did 1000 and then was published and is now successful. It’s ducks with top hats madness.

      4. It sounds like sour grapes to complain about the talentless writers who are nonetheless successful, so I won’t keep on about it. I think it’s true though that the majority are not judging a story/poetry collection on its literary merits any more than they judge the cut of the jeans/colour of dresses/size of heels that are fashionable in any particular season. Most of us just go with the flow. If the shops are full of lime green clothes, platform-soled shoes and flared jeans, guess what we’ll all be wearing. It isn’t much different for the so-called cultural purchases. Popularity doesn’t have much to do with artistic merit, other kinds probably, but not what is dear to the heart of the writer/artist slaving to create something beautiful. If I was the person you knew who had to go through 1000 agents before she/he found one who liked their work enough to represent it, I’m afraid I’d be wondering what 999 agents had seen that this one hadn’t.

      5. I don’t agree, it’s not sour grapes to have an opinion, and your opinion is one shared by many, who read the so-called best books and wonder, why did this get published? I often begin a book that I have heard of through some medium and end up putting it down because it’s so formulaic, shallow or just down-right badly written. Am I saying I can write better? No. But I know people who can and it seems unfair. Then again same in the art world, when I visited some friends in London last year I went to many art exhibits and was renewed with horror at what passes for modern art when so many who are fine, talented artists, will never see the light of day. We only have to look at who is ‘popular’ to realize, the world is upside down. Good example being David Duchovney (of XFiles fame) did an LP and a book recently, I’m an XFiles fan so I listened to the LP it was about the worst thing I have ever heard, and read the book (ditto) he got those deals because he was already famous much like the already famous can switch genres and do well in all things just because they tell people they can rather than because what they produce is any good. Another case in point, fashion, and designs from people who have no background, whilst those who slave away through fashion college get nowhere because they don’t know the right person. In a world of Kardashian, are we really surprised? But to not be outraged when we see good art and artists neglected and passed over for the flavor of the month – that’s not sour grapes that’s the truth. As you say, popularity has nothing to do with artistic merit. I think in the case of the 1000 agents, it’s much like it used to be, so many of the authors we love, were turned down but eventually published, sometimes people do not see something wonderful because they’re looking in the wrong direction that’s not an inditement on the artist/author so much as the notions of what is good surely?

      6. I’m right with you, of course, and I’d defend others, but it’s hard to bash on about the raw deal one gets oneself without appearing bitter and arrogant. Curious you didn’t like Harry Potter either. You’re the first person I’ve talked to who isn’t a fan. I feel less alone. I think it’s the word ‘experimental’ that usually indicates something that you have to be really cool to appreciate. Experimental art is anything you can get away with, and experimental music isn’t written to listen to, but to endure. I don’t care what the experts say, music that relies on the same tonal message, unvarying what’s hiding behind the corner? No emotional register, perpetual gloom and depression. It’s just no pleasure to listen to. Isn’t that part of music’s job? I think it was David Hockney who said that so many art students were leaving college unable to draw because it had been decreed that drawing wasn’t important, but you can’t call yourself an artist if you haven’t mastered the basics of drawing. We’ve lost it somewhere. The undisputed greatest artists, the Rembrandts, Shakespeares, the Beethovens and Mozarts have been dead for hundreds of years and we, for all our snotty sophistication, have never even equalled them, never mind produced anything greater. We’ve lost the plot, I’m afraid..

      7. True. If we go on about our lack of publishing deals or whatever, someone may consider this sour grapes, though I believe we should always among friends especially, have a right to share our queries about why the world is so tilted and prone to bad choices, if we don’t question then aren’t we letting that slide when it’s not really acceptable? It isn’t even our own lack of or whatever, that bothers, so much as an over-all belief the system is rigged against the artist en mass. I would think that’s a dialogue we should be having more. If someone wants to paint you as bitter, that’s their preconception, they don’t know you. I may not know you very well but I know you well enough to know that’s the last thing you would feel as you are successful as an author but even if you were not, you’d not beleaguer a lack of recognition but you may care if the system wasn’t fair for those who try very hard compared to those who really just get in on fame’s entry. Banksy is another artist I really don’t relate to, yet look how celebrated he is. Basquiat was another, whom I didn’t really engage with, Warhol even (though he knew some principles of art at least) the fame-game, such as it is … Billy Childish the poet, only famous because he used the word ‘cunt’ in every poem and couldn’t spell (we have that in common!). As you say, music that relies on the same tonal message, that’s pretty normal for pop and is what sells, good artists who really can sing, they don’t always get the chance (fortunately some do, especially at self-publishing which really is a good thing when we think about it) perhaps it’s not so much how many we reach as it is, that we reach and we try. Then again there are times someone very worthy is celebrated, such as Steven Kings son who just wrote a huge book that was very good, despite the obvious nepotism at least he’s talented – others not so much. Meryl Streep I love but her daughter can’t act, yet she gets many more jobs than someone without the connection, I suppose that’s life. iI think you’re right if you haven’t mastered the basics what gives you the right almost to think yourself able to render something abstract without knowing what that abstraction originated from? Then again the Turner Prize and the Booker they really have lost the plot, I laugh because unless you are typically a refugee from Tibet with adopted children and one arm, you aren’t going to get a look-in, that’s not racism, it’s reverse-racism/white-guilt which is making a mockery of judging with equal merit. Apparently kids can’t earn less than C now at school either, lest it hurt their fragile egos, I wonder how they will survive the brutal world !

      8. If you want to go down as a pop culture idol it helps to be a junky and/or dead. Otherwise you can just know/sleep with someone who creates idols. Basquiat I like some of, but if he wasn’t black, gay and dead he’d have a harder time of it. That connections matters isn’t new. The world has always functionned like that, but there are so many talentless idiots clamouring to stand in front of the big screen it doesn’t leave any room for anyone else. The world has got too big, too fast and too crass. I think I’ll just take a back seat and watch it go splat against the buffers. Because with this millennial generation in charge, that’s exactly where it’s going.

      9. Very true, it’s that idea of you have to be several layers of infamous to even be noticed and so it’s what? Not ‘trendy’ enough to be a regular person with no history of addiction, no mental disorder, no sexual exploits, etc. It shouldn’t be about all that stuff, how does it impact their art in a better way? If it did, great, but since when did being a junkie really improve a persons ideas? Yet they’d have you believe it does (William Burroughs et al) and that’s a crying shame because it’s like penalizing the hard working because they don’t shed excess and madness at every corner. You’re right, it’s not new, about that or connections, it’s always been the case, but the free-thinker and the independent always have a place too. I re-read The Population Bomb not long ago and reminded myself why the world is so hard compared to say, when I grew up in the seventies, because there are a third more people, and half as many as in the fifties. No wonder people struggle, there are just too many of us all trying to do the same thing, it takes the wonderment out. That said, we still find snatches of it and I do believe in time efforts can be rewarded, even if it’s much harder than say, it was for our forefathers, but then again they had their own struggles so it probably balances out in our favor, at least we have a roof over our head and food on the table. I try not to watch ever, any reality TV for that exact reason. The last good generation was probably Baby Boomers, my gen (X) and the latter, Millennials, really don’t get it, they think life is a cheese board of choice, rather than a series of hard steps, considered and slow.

      10. We’re in the lucky position of being able to see just how hard it was for our grandparents, who were probably too tired to appreciate the things like birds, no pesticides, stars at night, rhinos and big apes etc. Since they didn’t know how all that would change, they couldn’t appreciate it anyway. We also have the possiblility of doing much more what we want to; fulfilment and all that. But what do we do? We watch reality TV. I despair of humanity.

      11. Exactly. When we complain we realize how lucky we are, and how lucky they were, in completely different ways. You’re right, given a choice we squander it. They would have given their eye-teeth for few hours of not working but when we have that as a given, we watch Reality TV. I have a friend who lives off the grid, he’s a mountain man of sorts, never watches TV has no electricity, a free spirit you can see it in his eyes. And we wonder why we’re not outliving some of our ancestors, with our complacent lives? I’m guilty of sitting too much it’s true, the lovely thing about France being you can up and go for a walk the weather rarely prohibits you. I just read that Monsanto is being bought by Bayer, (Germany) which is unfortunate, their ‘mission’ being to ‘help feed those who are starving’ (there are just so many better ways than killing off more-or-less everything with GMO and pesticides) lest we forget, if the bees go, we’ll go too and we’ll only have ourselves to blame, though the Europeans were evolving away from pesticides not towards them (grr) disheartening.

      12. I love this response! I want a t-shirt with these words! Classic! Made me chuckle so much! Could NOT agree more with you!

      13. Ditto. I think their utilitarian perspective reaches most aspects of Germanic life and culture, even in the strict cuts of their clothing or the duration of their education system. Personally I’m more in line with a spontaneous existence, rather than one tightly controlled.

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