If it doubt, talk about the weather

4am wind whips

round my flat rattling walls

permeating dreams

I’m not sure what the weather is like with you but here we have blustery gales ripping up trees, closing roads and causing trouble.  Wind is one of my least favourite weathers.  I tried to explain why to someone a few years ago and they didn’t get it.  Maybe it was me, maybe I didn’t explain it well enough, but I feel like I am being attacked by the wind.  I want to retreat, run away, hide from the enemy.  I want to pull a duvet over my head and block out the howls with a pillow.  I take the weather personally.

World Enough and Time Part 1

I’ve just come back from an amazing adventure to a tiny island off the North West of Scotland.  My purpose in this rather long journey on our public transport system was to attend ‘A week of art-making, writing, poetry and reflection on Tanera Mor‘.

It was a really enjoyable week, I cobbled together some words, made some books (this is currently my favourite thing ever – it’s a lot of fun) and got myself covered in paint.

In case you’ve never thought about it, it’s a long way from York to Ullapool (where I was staying before I got my lift to the pier).  The first train was York to Edinburgh then a train to Perth followed by a train through the Cairngorms to Inverness.  Here I stopped to visit Leakey’s (a great treasure trove of second hand books) before getting a bus to Strathpeffer and then finally getting a bus to Ullapool.

York to Edinburgh

Nostalgic autumn haze

Hangs over golden fields

 

The sun punctuates

Revealing dusty purple heather

 

The vast tall sky

Is squashed by heavy grey clouds

 

Edinburgh to Perth

A flask full of coffee – still warm

And a list of train stations

To wrap your tongue around;

Haymarket

Inverkeithing

Kirkcaldy

Markinch

And

Ladybank

 

Perth to Inverness

Suspended raindrops

Blur land and sky. Wispy clouds

Cling to highland rocks

 

Scottish Highlands

Purple and gold hills

White houses, green forest

Grey rivers cut through

A texture infused landscape;

Soft ferns, prickling pines

Hills dipping, overlapping

Rocks protrude and ruins

Pull you into memories

Olivine

Today’s prompt from Write Alm is Olivine.  It’s a nice word to roll around your tongue but I didn’t know what it meant.  It felt like it should be describing a peaceful, fulfilled emotional state – “she looked olivine as she gazed out to sea”.  It’s actually a series of mineral, one of the earth’s most common in fact.  It is generally olive green in colour, hence the name.  In it’s gemstone form, as peridot, it was used a lot in Egyptian jewellery and is sometimes called evening emerald.

Evening emerald

Green eyes shimmering

Across the room with secrets;

Costume jewellery.

Astronomy and Poetry

Last night I went to a lecture about Astronomy and Poetry by Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is one of the country’s leading astronomers and a champion of women in science. As a graduate student she discovered pulsars, opening up a new branch of astrophysics. As a hobby she collects poetry about astronomy and space.

Astronomy is a fast moving subject, with new discoveries rolling in regularly. How have poets responded to these discoveries? What topics have caught their attention and what have they not written about? Are they pro-science or anti?

She was introduced along with the idea that art is science and science is an art.  That the two strands, which our society holds separately, were until recently considered parts of a whole rather than distinct paths where one is often seen as more superior than the other.

She touched on many things, obviously given the lecture was only an hour she was unable to go into much depth but it was a great lecture and I’m so pleased I went.  My notes involve half formed ideas which is pleasing.  Hopefully these thoughts will be turned over in my mind, observed from different angles, questioned, prodded until they tumble out as poems.

She mentioned the electromagnetic spectrum and emphasised how little of it we can see with the naked eye.  How different would our experiences be if we could see more of the spectrum?

Orion, the mandatory constellation, was rolled out.  This felt a bit cliched but apparently it is a good one to use from a teaching perspective – it includes stars that are going out and stars that are being born.  Did you know that Betelgeuse (the name of the top left star in Orion) translates as sexy armpit? (Wikipedia disputes this but there you go, make up your own mind).

There were a few readings from poets who have written about astronomy and she looked at themes poets tend to focus on:

  • radiotelescopes
  • the scale of the universe
  • the big bang
  • black holes
  • space exploration
  • comets
  • the moon
  • planets

Apparently in her research into astronomy and poetry she struggled to find many.  There are a few poets who write a lot about astronomy but in the last 50 or so years she managed to find a hundred and something poems about astronomy (discounting those where it makes a passing entrance and those where the science was wildly incorrect).  I really would have expected it to be an overdone topic.  It made me feel better about my own astronomy poem:

Comet

 

A heart

Twice as dark

As coal.

Creator and destroyer.

A tail of chalkdust

Writing history.

Fade to dust.

Burn to catastrophe.

One of the poems read about the size of the universe was Antler’s ‘On Learning on the Clearest Night Only 6000 Stars are Visible to the Naked Eye’ which is well worth a read.  There are about a hundred, thousand, million stars in our galaxy and about a hundred, thousand, million galaxies in the universe.

Do the one hundred

Thousand millions of stars

Scare or liberate?

She also touched on the amount of time it takes for light to travel across a galaxy which bought to mind this poem:

All things pass

All things pass

Stars, even

Constellations now ghosts of myths

Rock solid North Star

Guiding sailors for lifetimes

No longer hangs

In the tapestry

Of the sky

All things pass

The lecture was really interesting and sparked off some thoughts which will hopefully turn themselves into something creative.  I’m really interested in the interplay of science and art and would love to do more to intertwine them.  Five years ago I completed a masters in mathematics and I’ve always wanted to bring this into my writing and the creative aspect of me, I’ve got close a few times but it’s always felt forced and that never brings out the best poems.  I shall keep pondering it.