As this is Poetry Day I want to share my favourite poem. When I was a small child I had freckles scattered across my nose and on my cheeks above the bones. I hated them, but my Dad called them sun-kisses, and tried to reassure me by reading this poem by Gerard Manley-Hopkins. It’s called Pied Beauty.
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon, trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet. sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
This is going to be a really exciting event beginning on Tuesday 9th July with Tony Hawks, author of ‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ among other books, comedian and broadcaster -think ‘Just a Minute’.
The next day 9th July there are a series of inspiring workshops by established authors to motivate writers both experienced and beginners alike. Patricia Fawcett, the author of seventeen novels including A Family Weekend, The Absent Child and her latest Best Laid Plans, will lead a workshop on ‘Creating your Character’.
Sophie King, journalist and award winning author of Tales from the Heart and The School Run amongst others will speak about ways to write ‘Your Life Story in Ten Easy Steps.’ Sophie also writes under the name Janey Fraser, After the Honeymoon, Happy Families and The Aupair.
Oriana Ascanio, the creative director at Resident Writers has chosen ‘Place-Specific Writing for her workshop.
And finally ‘The Stuff of Poetry’ workshop will have the benefit of Jennie Osborne who has published a collection of poems entitled How to be Naked. She is a member of Moor Poets.
And after that there is a stimulating event ‘Meet the Authors Supper.’ over an informal meal in the Chudfest Marquee there will be the opportunity to meet a number of local authors. This should be a great social and networking event. So far eighteen published authors have accepted including Michael Jecks, Simon Hall, Becky Gethin and Sophie Duffy.
I am really looking forward to it and will be there ready to talk about my own novel Crucial Evidence
Last night I went to a production of the Dylan Thomas play Under Milk Wood by Clwyd Theatre Cymru at the Northcott Theatre Exeter. I have always loved this play since I first heard the recording with Richard Burton playing the first voice. I rushed out to buy a copy and still have it. Last night’s production was memorable with an imaginative staging and I know has had some very good reviews. It is on tour so look at the website http://www.undermilkwoodtour.com for places and dates and go and see it if you can.
The real interest for any writer is Thomas’s use of language. Almost the first line ‘It is a spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible black, the cobblestreets silent and hunched, courters’-and rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack fishingboad-bobbing sea.’ makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The magic of a master of the English Langauge, whose descriptions paint such vivid pictures that there is no need of anything else.
And what about the imagination needed to create characters like blind Captain Cat, Rosie Probert and Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard. Apparently Thomas was worried because there was no plot, but he didn’t need one, just following the lives of these characters for a day is enough. It is the centenary of his birth this year and so it seems appropriate to dig out your copy, or if you haven’t got one, buy or borrow one, and read this magnificent work
I have published this book of poetry about the countryside around our home in Devon. If you like nature, you might enjoy this.
I left you behind, a long way north,
But once I saw you here
Long after you were gone
In sloppy cardigan, slippers, book in hand.
You turned and smiled at me,
That smile, that well-remembered smile.
Do you like this place?
And me? Do you like what I’ve become?
The child you taught to read and play,
Who grew, and learnt and moved away
From that sheltering home a long way north.
Each year in May we watch for the return of the swifts who nested here under our thatch, hoping they have survived the long journey to and from Africa. They have now arrived and it seems the three pairs who left last year have returned or their offspring have. I wrote this poem about them coming back here.
On early summer evenings we wait
For the swifts, impatiently.
They circle the house
Remembering the way under the eaves.
Each evening they fly
Screaming, winged speed hurtling
Straight towards the thatch
Thump against the board and vanish
The noise reverberating through empty rooms.
We shelter them until late August
Until they imprint this place
Hardwired on their homing systems
And fly south, their nests empty.
Only the creaks and groans of the house
In the wind, recalls the summer months.