Tag: poetry

thing 4: ‘so pricketh hem Natur in hir corages…’: a water pilgrimage (part i)

There must be some kind of equation for packing.

If N=number of things you’d like to take, C the number of things you feel you can carry, and P what you can actually fit in your pack, the initial relationship between N, C and P can be assumed to be something like N>C≥P. After that it gets a bit confusing; but the net result is definitely F, which is what you say when you pick it up for the fifteenth time that day and your shoulders are very, very angry.

I was off to Somerset for a two-day water pilgrimage from the Holy Well at Frome to Aquae Sulis, the springs which feed the baths in, well, Bath. (read more…)

more workshop information: hurray!

I’m very pleased to be able to say that info. about the first one-day workshop is now up on the site.

I’m getting the chance to work with Simon Davies, late of Dove Cottage, and it’s a such a treat to be plotting and planning together. We had a lovely day yesterday, talking excitedly, eating slightly too much, getting breadcrumbs on the many books of poems which got pulled off the shelves, and generally having ourselves a great time. We are really looking forward to working with whoever turns up and whatever they bring. Do nip over to harvest and seed-time and have a look. One of those people might be you!

‘sea-glass’, Lucy Underwood

‘Due to weather conditions, the evening boat is cancelled.’
Under the risen wind, the waves’ alternate push
and tug unfurls, rolls back, returns again,
while underfoot the shingle shifts and seethes,
a living ground which slides away from me
with a rasping rattle, like hard-won breath.

Graceless, I flail towards the frilled edge
where the foamed sea unrolls itself in greeting.
Sand swirls in the shallows, litter bobs,
and lank fingers of torn weed trail and clutch at me.
But beyond, the deeper reaches free me: I fall forward
into heaven-pale blue-green water which holds

and lifts me—where light is delighting in itself,
and the breeze-beaten surface is a shifting infinity
of tiny planes where sun is shattered into stars.
I blink brine-burned eyes and gasp, spitting salt.
A joy rises in me which joins now with far ago,
where a small child is tossed in sure square hands,

and squeals, and is caught again, and danger
is always safe. I laugh, and weep, and play
till I am spent. Leaving the water, I stoop to lift
a piece of sea-glass. Tumbled into opacity, it holds
the light. Carefully I fold my fingers over it,
its warm smoothness sweet against my salt-scoured skin.

The Art Of Losing, ed. Kevin Young

This is a wide-raging anthology of verse from a range of different cultures. Taking loss and grieving as its topic, the anthology is arranged into different sections. It doesn’t use the well-known—and sometimes unfairly-maligned—Kubler-Ross five stages of grieving. Instead, it groups the poems under: ‘reckoning’, ‘regret’, ‘remembrance’, ‘ritual’, ‘recovery’ and ‘redemption’. Apart from betraying the editor’s capacity skilfully to use alliteration (!), this grouping is, I think, a useful one, helping the reader to navigate the book and have a better chance of finding the right text for how that particular moment feels.

For me The Art of Losing is more stimulating than other collections of poems about loss and grief simply because every time I pick it up I meet a new author, or new poem, in which I can delight. Perhaps this is, in part, due to its focus on new and contemporary writing: Young explains that while he he has included a few ‘absolutely necessary’ C19th poems, he has ‘tried to stick to poems that are contemporary classics, or soon ought to be’. Other grief anthologies will give you wisdom, heartbreak and love from across the centuries, reminding you of what is universal in human experience over time. Those anthologies have their place: treasure remains treasure no matter how old it is. But Young gives us the chance to uncover new treasures.

There are too many authors included for me to be able to give any kind of representative list. All I can say is: buy this book. Whether you are grieving now, have grieved, work with those who grieve, or simply want to meet some new poems that will find you, then I don’t think this collection will disappoint. Treat yourself to it.

the afternoon knows what the morning never suspected

I came across this line by Robert Frost quite recently on the internet (it’s all over the place) and it got me, in the way that poetry often can.

I heard a voice inside my head go Cor, in an almost Phwoar-y kind of a way (swiftly followed by a quiet, greenly-jealous voice saying I wish I’d written that). Though Frost is probably not, in fact, saying something very different from “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders”, there’s something so much more palatable for me in coming across the idea in this form; (read more…)