Choose the Correct Blue with the Poem 'Cartography for Beginners' by Emily Hasler

Choose the Correct Blue with the Poem 'Cartography for Beginners' by Emily Hasler

Wednesday, 13 September, 2023

English poet Emily Hasler combines words in a whimsical and deeply affecting way. In this poem, she invites us to explore the world, explore creativity, explore feelings, and dedicate ourselves to ‘the twin and warring gods of Precision and Wild Abandon.’

Who can resist a clarion call like that?!


Cartography for Beginners — Emily Hasler

  • First of all, you will need to choose the correct blue
  • to indicate water. This should not be too watery.
  • You must remember: people do not like wet feet.
  • If there is no water to indicate, no matter,
  • you must still elect a blue. Let me recommend
  • eggshell, at a push, azure. Choose a symbol
  • for church/temple/mosque/synagogue. Choose
  • a symbol for pub. Dedicate your life
  • to the twin and warring gods of Precision
  • and Wild Abandon. People do not like
  • to be lost. Buy Mandelbrot’s 1967 paper
  • on the coastline paradox, put it on the highest shelf –
  • but get a stepladder. Take a little licence with rivers,
  • especially their curves and estuaries. Add
  • an oxbow lake if at all possible. If the area you
  • are mapping has no seas/lakes/rivers/streams,
  • I have to question why you are bothering. You
  • won’t get to use that lovely blue you spent so long
  • deciding upon. Do the Norfolk fens instead. Better
  • yet, East Anglia in its future state, quite utterly
  • submerged like a sodden Constable. Come on,
  • get your coat, I’ll show you. You won’t need your shoes.

About Emily Hasler

Emily Hasler is an English poet. Born in Suffolk, she studied at the University of Warwick for a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing and an MA in Pan-Romanticisms. She now lives in London. This poem is from an unpublished sequence of four poems called The Map Lover; we found it in The Guardian. Hasler’s latest work is Local Interest. It ‘maps the friable and slippery landscapes of south Suffolk and north Essex: estuaries and water meadows, coastal defences and disused decoys, possible futures, and forgotten pasts.’ (Heads up! We treated ourselves to the ebook — it’s fantastical and fantastic.)

Top image courtesy of Leah Kelley/Pexels.

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