Lately, a stream of brilliant questions have come my way for this year’s season of Q and Q Friday.
Among them, one about poetry has stuck with me.
In fact, I think it came in late last year. I’ve been mulling it over ever since. A beautiful, thoughtful and unexpected question.
What does poetry mean to me and has it influenced my writing?
Children’s authors are rarely asked such questions. I think it’s fair to say we’re often seen as ‘hacks’, with no true appreciation or knowledge of the finer points of creative writing.
A bit like what Stephen King says in On Writing. Just because he writes horror doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Doesn’t mean he’s not aware. Doesn’t mean he’s a fecking philistine.
You know what I mean?
I will answer that poetry question more fully on ‘the show’.
But, now that I’m having a Depth Year, I find myself with the time (and motivation) to return to my old passions.
Time to pull up, ponder, daydream.
Time to… go deeper.
Time to stop saying I’ve been meaning to get back to that.
Oh, I used to love that!
Oh, I remember that painting, that poem, that whatever. I’ve always wanted to KNOW MORE.
Take Pre- Raphaelite art, for instance. It’s back on my radar:
This weekend it was time to revist the old ballad of the same name, La Bella Dame Sans Merci. (It’s still as enigmatic is ever. Thank you, Mr Keats).
Last week, Mary Oliver passed away.
I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of her.
Social media changed that.
Here’s one of her poems that grabbed my heart (and soul) straight away.
Warning: Read with a hanky closeby.
Straight Talk from Fox
Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.
From Red Bird: Poems (Beacon Press, 2008)
As I dive deeper into Paganism such poetry leaves me raw.
While we’re in the nature zone, this from D H Lawrence. (I’ve loved it since I came across it in my twenties.)
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
From Mainly Modern (Rigby Limited, 1969)
This weekend, aside from reading poetry and swooning over Pre-Raphaelites, I made a nature mobile.
It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to do for like, oh, twenty years… (Thank you for the prompt, Leonie Dawson!)
I gathered feathers, sticks, twigs, ivy, stones and whatnot from the garden.
I also took some shells, driftwood and sand stones from our family’s nature basket. (When our boys were little we encouraged them to collect a small, significant ‘something’ every time we went to the beach or the country or the river.
We saved these little tokens in our nature basket. Twenty years on, that basket still brings us joy.
I had plenty of string and cords, saved from various gifts and packages.
I even had some leftover art wire from a course I did with Carla Sonheim.
The end result was tricky to photograph.
But you get the picture.
I hung the mobile from a picture rail.
Along with a rag garland and some fairy lights that were already in situ.
Sunday night dinner calls. And yours probably does too.
Sending love and sparkles!
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