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

A year on

WordPress has just kindly pointed out that this blog has been around for a year.

My first post included a poem I had written based on my tweets which makes for interesting reflection.  The blog was started primarily as a way of getting back into writing but also because I was sinking further into a hellish pit of depression and destructive coping mechanisms.  My eating disorder was starting to take hold and I had done a good job of self silencing.  I had attempted to seek help from my GP and through work and hadn’t been successful.

Written last year:

Elusive words

Choke
(Bindweed)

Metaphors
Stuck
In the dark

Peaceful/painful silence
(Delete as applicable)

Battle ready
(Battle vulnerable?)

Overstep
Reclaim

By a strange coincidence I wrote another poem based on my tweets today:

pretence at sanity guides through
disturbed moments
a reminder of lost feelings
sharing imaginings of gifts

fight back with uncomfortable defiance

A year on and I’ve managed to speak and I’ve finally managed to get some help.  It’s a huge relief but in order to recover I know I have to struggle back through the hell of depression.  Anorexia has numbed me and eating releases the feelings but anorexia is not sustainable.  I face the depression or I die.  They are my choices.  I choose to face it.

I don’t want to be sitting here, wasting my life to anorexia, when wordpress tells me it’s been two years.

Writing Recklessly

“The way to find your true self is by recklessness and freedom”

Brenda Ueland

I’ve attended a few of the York Festival of Idea events and will be trying to get together some poetry from each of them. The first, and easiest to post about, was Writing Recklessly:

The very idea of ‘craft’ seems to assume that all writing should be working towards order, or some form of writerly control over the creative forces within and around us. This big, messy workshop with lecturers in Creative Writing from York St John University will question that assumption, and flip the idea of bringing order to chaos on its head.

We’ll celebrate the disorder underlying even the best laid plans, using exercises and alternative practices to help bring the energy of an unpredictable world into your work.

Recklessness isn’t something that really comes naturally to me so this was always going to be a challenge.

The workshop was a nice mix of poems being read, ideas being talked about and writing exercises.  The first exercise was to write about an experience without imposing order or claiming to have come to understand something or learnt something through it.  I’ve left these pretty much as they came in an attempt not to impose any more order on them:

Caught up in a nebulous

Boundaryless, messy, big bang

Cloud of gas.

Chaotic flashes of rainbow

And star birth engulf.

I stand at the centre

With ruler and notebook

Calculating rapidly

Clutching at changes

Desperate to control

And order that which

Surrounds me.

 ~~~

She has sentenced me to time

In a bleak, black cell

Period unknown.

She oversees every move

Controls every thought

Restricts my life

Holds me in my prison.

In the dark, dank jail,

I see no light.

 The second part of the workshop was looking at describing a reckless action in a reckless way.  As I said above, I’m not an especially reckless person so have very few experiences of my own to draw on.  Perhaps you could share yours in the comments?

Part of writing recklessly is about not following the rules.  One of these rules being write what you know.  To help us with this, we read a few pieces written from the perspectives of animals before writing our own piece.  The examples we looked at were an extract from The Bees by Laline Paull, Honey Cycle by Les Murray and Hive by Carol Ann Duffy.  The animal I chose for my own writing was a dinosaur!  I’ve since fine tuned this to a diplodocus and am still working on it.  I have ideas but I’m struggling to turn them into words.  This seems to be a bit of a general theme for me at the moment.  I’m hoping as my health improves that my brain will return and I will be able to think intelligently and creatively again.

Finally  we looked at ectoplasm.  After a brief discussion we were shown a few photos of ectoplasm and asked to write our response.  I have never really considered ectoplasm and will possibly never do so again:

The figure is headless

Or the photograph is.

Who am I to presume

The body has a head?

Normal circumstances would

Let me take this liberty.

But rules of certainty

Have been broken.

The image displays

The impossible –

Evidencing ectoplasm.

My eyes see clearly

This falsehood.

To engage with one deception

Requires the possibility

That all other truths

Are lies.

The figure is headless.

I really like the idea of writing responses to photographs and art and it’s one I’d like to do again, although probably with less ectoplasm!

List poetry: Jobs I’ve had

There’s a great post by the girl in the hat over at The Daily Post about poetry from lists including a number of prompts.  I’ve added them all to my list of ideas to return to but here’s a completely unedited list of jobs I’ve had:

Jobs I’ve had

Menial farm work for a father I love

But love wasn’t enough

Piecemeal wages required

 

3am start at the newsagents

Inserting supplements into weekend papers

Who knew that was a job

 

Graduated to serving in the same establishment

Sleazy customers and £1 of penny sweets

Each individually counted

 

Two summers in customer services

In a college, old man wanted to learn pottery

Could he make a frog rather than a nude?

 

Three weeks stuffing envelopes

So good they kept me the summer

Filing and photocopying

 

Three months in a medical school

Followed by two sessions

Pretending to be a patient

 

A couple of days temping

In an office without capacity

To assign me tasks

 

Nine months in an office

Filled with playground politics

And added alcohol

 

Thrown in the deep end

Personal Assistant to the Head of Department

Once you learn the language, it’s easy to swim

 

Final destination, same office

Same team yet numerous masks

Trialled over four years

What is your favourite line of poetry?

I came across an Elan blog post which had a collection of favourite lines of poetry which made me think.  Favourite sounds like it should be something good, positive, something beautiful…   Instead I’ve gone with lines that have lodged in my mind.

“Twisted reflections in fairground mirrors”
– me, Untitled

It’s probably very egotistical that my first thought was from my own poem.  I think it’s probably that it’s resonated with me strongly for a long time.  Essentially it’s a reminder that perception is so often skewed.  Something I need reminding of so often that I’ve actually embroidered it and have it hanging in my living room.

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”
– Phillip Larkin, This be the verse

Because who doesn’t like an entire poem about the misery of having parents?

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
– Maya Angelou, Still I rise

And ending on a more positive note, I find this from Maya Angelou very inspiring and empowering.

What are your favourite lines of poetry?