of words and wild swans

Open mike nights are a chance to discover the words of other poets, writers and musicians and I usually sit with notebook and pen ready to jot down the ideas and phrases that appeal most, that capture my imagination or that challenge me to think more.

Last night I was a reader at a fund-raising event where the theme was homelessness. One of the phrases I wrote down was from local poet John Turner: “How to compare spring flower to crack den?” It’s a question that challenged me as it relates to why I wimped out of writing new and socially relevant poems for the event, instead reaching into my files, which overflow with spring flowers and poetry of place, to create a set based around the ideas of home, belonging and alienation.
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on Christmas Day in the morning

In the beginning was the Word.

nativity scene stained glass
…but for today’s blog post, pictures are enough.

poetry & plasterwork

Yesterday, I went to a breakfast meeting at Stoneleigh Abbey.

Stoneleigh Abbey
We ate in the saloon, whose ceiling features this magnificent plaster relief depicting Hercules being welcomed by the gods after his death:
Stoneleigh Abbey Blue Saloon
I visited the Abbey a couple of years ago and went on a tour of the house; sadly, the photos I took then are currently on a computer that won’t boot, so I only have a couple of pictures I took on my phone as discreetly as possible during the meeting.
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capture that moment

 

Ellen Terry takes a selfie

Ellen Terry takes a selfie

la Inmaculada

Tiepolo: inmaculada concepción
Although I now spend most of my time in the UK, I still work with people in Spain and – due mostly to the lack of response to my phone calls – I am very conscious of the fact that today is a fiesta.

In fact it’s the fiesta de la inmaculada concepción – celebrating the immaculate conception of Mary, mother of Jesus.
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light relief

Midnight Moths owl: Birmingham  Big Hoot Art Trail. Artist: Alyn Smith
When I told a friend that I’d been looking through old poems trying to find one to send to a competition with the theme darkness, he laughed and said I should find that easy: after all, I write lots of dark poems.

In fact he was wrong. The subject matter isn’t always the most cheerful, but I do tend to find a bright twist to things. Like the owl in the photo – the Midnight Moths owl from Birmingham’s Big Hoot Art Trail – I can’t help but see the stars.

Coincidentally, yesterday I came across the word eigengrau: the colour that we see when there is zero light.

It seems that even in perfect darkness we don’t actually see black: our optic nerves make us see a dark grey instead. Perhaps we should re-name them optimistic nerves. Perhaps I should write a poem about that.

“the birdcage”

For reasons irrelevant, last night I stayed in a strange hotel in London. “Strange” in the sense that I had never stayed there before, and “strange” in the sense that it was not like any hotel I had ever stayed in previously.

chandelier and stained glass
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