Month: April 2016

#PoetryDayIRL

 

magic book

Today is Poetry Day in Ireland! What a great day to lose yourself in the rhythmic alchemy of language.  Even if you’re not into poetry, just take the time, think of a topic that interests you and search for a poem on it: Love, Twilight, Death, Happiness, Thought, Paris, History – everything can be distilled into poetry and I guarantee you’ll find a poem on every imaginable theme.  If you enjoy a sunset, the sound of the sea or the smell of rain – that makes you a poet.  Listen to your heartbeat – poetry, as I’m writing I’m watching my Willow tree bend in the April breeze – more poetry, it’s everywhere!

I started reading and writing poetry in my final year in Secondary school.  I studied all the usual suspects (mostly old angry men) but I persevered because something about the medium grabbed my attention more than anything else I was studying in those days.  I remember reading Siegfried Sassoon Base Details a sarcastic poem about the indifference to front-line soldiers displayed by their officers, and tried to recreate my own version about life in the classroom! It probably sucked, but I enjoyed the word-play and the difficult search for descriptions.  In college, I discovered Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker and I was off.  Writing about myself, my feelings and desires, my heartbreak’s and fixes, everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. In later years Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver, Michael Hartnett, James Tate, Sharon Olds, Jane Hirshfield, Naomi Shihab Nye and many  many more, became my companions.  Poetry was a constant in my life, a second shadow, and it still is, almost 30yrs later!

I knocked at her doors for so long before realising she’d left a key under the pot!  That’s the thing about poetry, if you want her she’s yours, you don’t even have to ask.  If you’re lost, she’ll find you.  So don’t be put off by academics who make out that poetry is only for the lofty, the high-brow or uber intelligent.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. Instead listen to what Pablo Neruda, one of the great Latin American poets, had to say about poetry (and he knew a thing or two):

 “On our earth, before writing was invented, before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished.  That is why we know that poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity”.

So, drop your guard, open a book of poetry and walk into your heart 🙂  This is one of my favourites, it’s Neruda, it’s his honest-to-goodness, wonderfully descriptive, personal poetic discovery, the moment poetry held him in her embrace. Translated by Alastair Reid from Mark Eisner’s Essential Neruda. it’s:

POETRY

And it was at that age … poetry arrived
In search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
It came from, from winter or a river
I don’t know how of when,
No, they weren’t voices, they were not
Words, nor silence,
But from a street it called me,
From the branches of the night,
Abruptly from the others,
Among raging fires
Or returning alone,
There it was, without a face,
And it touched me.

I didn’t know what to say, my mouth
Had no way
With names,
My eyes were blind,
Something kicked in my soul,
Fever or forgotten wings,
And I made my own way,
Deciphering that fire,
And I wrote the first, faint line,
Faint, without substance, pure
Nonsense,
Pure wisdom
Of one who knows nothing,
And suddenly I saw the heavens
Unfastened
And open,
Planets,
Palpitating plantations,
The darkness perforated,
Riddled
With arrows, fire and flowers,
The overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
Drunk with the great starry
Void,
Likeness, image of
Mystery,
Felt myself a pure part
Of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.

 

 

Photo Credit: http://science-all.com/image.php?pic=/images/magic/magic-03.jpg

 

Sometimes It Snows In April

Fabulous tribute Evie

Evie Gaughan

It’s impossible to quantify the impact an artist/musician has had on your life, but when they’re gone, the strange feeling of loss is equally hard to put a name on.  They’ve been a part of your ‘becoming’ and just like your first love, they will always have a special place in your heart.  And the fact that we’re talking about Prince… where do you even begin? Expressing complex feelings about a complex man in such a simplistic format is bound to fall short, but I’ll do my best.

I will never forget the first time I heard Prince – I was twelve years old and my brother had just bought his album 1999.  This was back in the days when you actually listened to albums and lavished over the artwork; I would go into our living room, put the record on full volume and listen to it over and over…

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#EarthDay

In recognition of Earth Day I’ve got a poem by Patricia Kathleen Page, born in Dorset, England in 1916. She and her family moved to Red Deer, Alberta, in 1919, so that her father could advance his career in the Canadian military. Her first book was a romantic novel called The Sun and the Moon (1944), which she published under the pseudonym Judith Cape, 2 years later, in 1946 she published her first solo book of poetry As Ten, as Twenty, under her real name. In her lifetime, Page published more than two dozen books — spanning poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature — and also developed a parallel career as an accomplished painter, after studying under artists in Brazil and New York.
In 2000, Page’s poem Planet Earth, inspired by four lines from a longer poem by Chilean writer Pablo Neruda, was chosen by the United Nations for its Dialogue Among Civilizations Through Poetry reading series.  This is like a love poem to the earth.  An assertion that we need to treat it like a precious object, thereby making it stronger.  From The Hidden Room, Collected Poems, it’s:

 
PLANET EARTHEarth
By PK Page

It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet,
has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness;
and the hands keep on moving,
smoothing the holy surfaces.
—– In Praise of Ironing by Pablo Neruda

It has to be loved the way a laundress loves her linens,
the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins
knowing their warp and woof,
like a lover coaxing, or a mother praising.
It has to be loved as if it were embroidered
with flowers and birds and two joined hearts upon it.
It has to be stretched and stroked.
It has to be celebrated.
O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it.
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet.
The trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses.
They have to be polished as if made of green brass.
The rivers and little streams with their hidden cresses
and pale-coloured pebbles
and their fool’s gold
must be washed and starched or shined into brightness,
the sheets of lake water
smoothed with the hand
and the foam of the oceans pressed into neatness.
It has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness
and pleated and goffered, the flower-blue sea
the protean, wine-dark, grey, green, sea
with its metres of satin and bolts of brocade.
And sky – such an O! overhead – night and day
must be burnished and rubbed
by hands that are loving
so the blue blazons forth
and the stars keep on shining
within and above
and the hands keep on moving.
It has to be made bright, the skin of this planet
till it shines in the sun like gold leaf.
Archangels then will attend to its metals
and polish the rods of its rain.
Seraphim will stop singing hosannas
to shower it with blessings and blisses and praises
and, newly in love,
we must draw it and paint it
our pencils and brushes and loving caresses
smoothing the holy surfaces.

 

The Stars Are All Around

stars

The poetry & music of the Stars featuring poems by Tess Gallagher, Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman along with music from Tom Baxter, Stina Nordenstam and Declan O’Rourke.  Your host: Tracy Gaughan

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s A Birch!

Digital image

Cong (c) TG

The poetry & music of the Trees with Linda Pastan, Lloyd Schwartz, Ben Howard & Paulo Nutini.

 

 

 

 

#NationalWalkingDay

In Praise of Walking By Thomas A Clark25954352930_ffcda77000_m

Early one morning, any morning, we can set out, with the least
possible baggage, and discover the world.

It is quite possible to refuse all the coercion, violence, property,
triviality, to simply walk away.

That something exists outside ourselves and our preoccupations,
so near, so readily available, is our greatest blessing.

Walking is the human way of getting about.

Always, everywhere, people have walked, veining the earth with
paths, visible and invisible, symmetrical and meandering.

There are walks in which we tread in the footsteps of others,
walks on which we strike out entirely for ourselves.

A journey implies a destination, so many miles to be consumed,
while a walk is its own measure, complete at every point along
the way.

There are things we will never see, unless we walk to them.

Walking is a mobile form of waiting.

What I take with me, what I leave behind, are of less importance
than what I discover along the way.

To be completely lost is a good thing on a walk.

The most distant places seem most accessible once one is on
the road.

Convictions, directions, opinions, are of less importance than
sensible shoes.

In the course of a walk, we usually find out something about our
companion, and this is true even when we travel alone.

When I spend a day talking I feel exhausted, when I spend it
walking I am pleasantly tired.

The pace of the walk will determine the number and variety of
things to be encountered, from the broad outlines of a mountain
range to a tit’s nest among the lichen, and the quality of attention
that will be brought to bear upon them.

A rock outcrop, a hedge, a fallen tree, anything that turns us out
of our way, is an excellent thing on a walk.

Wrong turnings, doubling back, pauses and digressions, all contribute
to the dislocation of a persistent self-interest.

Everything we meet is equally important or unimportant.

The most lonely places are the most lovely.

Walking is egalitarian and democratic; we do not become experts
at walking and one side of the road is as good as another.

Walking is not so much romantic as reasonable.

The line of a walk is articulate in itself, a kind of statement.

Pools, walls, solitary trees, are natural halting places.

We lose the flavour of walking if it becomes too rare or too
extraordinary, if it turns into an expedition; rather it should be
quite ordinary, unexceptional, just what we do.

Daily walking, in all weathers, in every season, becomes a sort of
ground or continuum upon which the least emphatic occurrences
are registered clearly.

A stick of ash or blackthorn, through long use, will adjust itself
to the palm.

Of the many ways through a landscape, we can choose, on each
occasion, only one, and the project of a walk will be to remain
responsive, adequate, to the consequences of the choice we have
made, to confirm the chosen way rather than refuse the others.

One continues on a long walk not through effort of will but through
fidelity.

Storm clouds, rain, hail, when we have survived these we seem
to have taken on some of the solidity of rocks and trees.

A day, from dawn to dusk, is the natural span of a walk.

A dull walk is not without value.

To walk for hours on a clear night is the largest experience
we can have.

For the right understanding of a landscape, information
must come to the intelligence from all the senses.

Looking, singing, resting, breathing are all complementary
to walking.

Climbing uphill, the horizon grows wider, descending, the hills
gather round.

We can take a walk which is a sampling of different airs: the
invigorating air of the heights; the filtered air of a pine forest;
the rich air over ploughed earth.

We can walk between two places, and in so doing establish a link
between them, bring them into a warmth of contact, like
introducing two friends.

There are walks on which I lose myself, walks which return me to
myself again.

Is there anything better that to be out, walking, in the
clear air?

Lefties of the World Unite!

Excellent!

Evie Gaughan

pointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2I am left-handed, which not only makes me far superior to all you ‘righties’ out there (unless you need a cheque signed, that’s a bit of a struggle!) but also leaves me open to some odd cultural misconceptions.  Are we the devil’s handmaidens, or are we highly gifted?  I think you already know the route this blog will take 😉

Known as a ‘Citog’ in my own native tongue, I’m sometimes called a ‘Leftie’, or when I was stateside, a ‘Southpaw’.  All of these names basically have the same connotation;  You’re different.  Which, to a person like me, is the highest of compliments!  Although it hasn’t always been that way.  The route of our ‘otherness’ may lie in any one or all of the following sources.  Organised religion; they seemed to consider the left as being evil and connected with the devil.  Medieval society; they invented the whole shaking hands…

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