Category Archives: Poets – known and new

Chip shops and kama sutra: poetry with a difference, Glasgow-style!

It has been some time since I last wrote about a wonderful local initiative bringing children, parents,  our wider community and the Great Outdoors together in North Kelvin, Glasgow, U.K – The Children’s Wood, which very happily has recently gained charitable status. Everyone around here is delighted with this achievement.

One of the things we can now do is extend our fundraising activities.To this end, The Children’s Wood is teaming up on Tuesday 24th March, 7.15 pm,  with our excellent Oxfam Book Shop, 330 Byres Road, Glasgow G12, which is always willing to support appropriate local initiatives. That diverse and talented group of published poets from the Greater Glasgow area, the Byres Road Poets, are presenting an evening of poetry reading in the above shop to raise funds for The Children’s Wood. 

Byres Road Poets

Byres Road Poets

Local friends, supporters and poetry fans, do come along to hear a rich and diverse mix of versification from Carole Bone – don’t miss her infamous Chip Shop poem; Sophie Agrell – repeating her rendition of that risqué Kama Sutra poem; and Alistair Christie Johnston, man of mystery by choice who simply will not say what he’s reading – till he reads it…

There will be wine, nibbles, and a chance to contribute a suggested  £5 – or more, don’t hold back! – to The Children’s Wood‘s coffers. To continue with these imaginative existing initiatives livening up and enriching the lives of young and old alike in the North Kelvin area, we need funds. Do be generous – it’s a terrific, life enhancing cause.

I know that my many loyal readers and Followers live in different areas of the UK and all over the world, but especially in the USA. Our local initiative here in one area of one Scottish city is an important microcosm of a world-wide movement to get young people, parents, and whole communities together, to get us OUTSIDE, to get us more active, less gadget-bound and therefore more healthy.

So: those of you who are too far away to come and listen to those excellent local poets, why not give a donation – anything you can afford would be welcome – to help us on our way? Click HERE to donate. Many thanks!

We are all part of the ONE: one family, one community, one nation, one world. Let us never forget this, and let us support one another in any small initiatives for positive change.

‘…Mighty oaks from little acorns grow…’

logopond gallery

logopond gallery

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Always look for light…from the poet R.S. Thomas as the year ends…

This year 2014 has in many ways been grim. It is important as it draws to a close to avoid offering fatuous cliches regarding how much better the New Year of 2015 will be. Maybe – and maybe not. But, as always, the best poets can find something to say which is apposite and pertinent. As I have grown older and survived a fair number of  Life’s battles, I have learned three major lessons, not in any way unique to me, but jewels of our common wisdom:

Be grateful for what you have

Live as much as is feasible, in the day you are in today – Carpe Diem!

Find light wherever you can, no matter how fleeting it may seem in very dark times

Let us not rush through 2015, then,  so much that we forget to pause, to notice, should a fleeting glimpse of the brightness of Eternity come our way….

A fleeting light.....

A fleeting light…..

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S.Thomas

(From Laboratories of the Spirit, published by MacMillan. © Kunjana Thomas)

(I published this poem in a different post at the start of 2014. It seems even more appropriate to share it again at this particular year’s end…)

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/R.S. Thomas 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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How to travel without going anywhere…if Kant could do it, why not you?

As Followers and readers of ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ will know, I had to give up a busy career and most of ordinary life from the end of 2001 until launching this blog in 2008 – my first step in re-entering the public world. Severe burnout following a prolonged family crisis led to the loss of around 90% of my formerly exuberant energy;  it took a very long time indeed fully to recover and eventually return to part-time work in 2012.

Until at last declaring myself fit again – on top of a remote hill pass, way up in the beautiful wild land of Scotland’s far North-West in the summer of 2008 – I hardly travelled anywhere physically. Travel was, quite simply, beyond my capacity.

However, in physical limitation and confinement– usually spending several hours each day lying on a couch in our ‘Quiet Room”– I discovered a breadth and depth of mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual freedom which had not been possible before in my busy and productive professional and personal life.

How I read! I was able to catch up with thirty years of reading , and in particular  freely to indulge a lifelong interest in my preoccupation with questions of “…mystery, meaning, pattern and purpose…” : cosmology, science (the open-minded kind, such as practised by eg Rupert Sheldrake), psychology, in-depth astrology, mythology, Nature, health and wellbeing, humour (that great survival device!) – in fact anything and everything which ultimately connects us up to the Big Picture.

And I wrote! Two books, both currently available – one free! –  as ebooks on this blog, and innumerable journals chronicling my inner and outer experiences of descent and return. S0 – I made this great discovery to an extent deeper than ever before:  one can travel the whole infinite multi-levelled world of  inner space without as much as setting foot on a train, boat or plane.

 Sophie Agrell is a published Scottish poet whose work I admire and have been happy to publish several times before on my blogs. When she showed me her latest poem, I loved it. Read it, and you will see exactly why… not that I would presume to compare myself to Emmanuel Kant, of course…

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Immanuel Kant 1724-1804

Immanuel Kant 1724-1804

From Konigsberg

Ships voyaged

For days, weeks

Across the Baltic

To Hansa,

Scandinavia,

Places beyond

The quiet philosopher’s knowing,

Cities forever unseen,

Where other men thought,

Considered his philosophy,

His closely woven theories,

Wrote letters with scratchy quills

To their immovable friend.

Yet in all his life

Kant never left Konigsberg,

Never travelled

More than ten miles

From port, university,

That now-vanished German city.

*

You could set your clock

By Kant,

They said,

As he walked,

His route unchanging,

Through his city.

Freed from excitement,

Novelty,

The apprehension of change,

His mind roamed,

Far beyond

His body’s phenomenal world,

Exploring ethics,

Astronomy,

Metaphysics,

Reason and human experience,

To enlighten,

Challenge,

Change ideas,

Create theories

Larger than a man,

A city,

A world.

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Sophie Agrell

 

 

 

 

photo by Anne Whitaker

(sophie_agrell@hotmail.com)

Sophie grew up in Kent, UK,  in a family whose connections spread from Sri Lanka, Sweden and Scotland throughout the world. She read Ancient andModern History at Oxford, eventually settling in Scotland where she works as a proof reader. She lives with her two dogs in a North Lanarkshire village. Sophie describes herself as “…. an escaped medievalist who watches the world, delights in its beauty, and grows roses…..”

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Sophie Agrell 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Descent through autumn – the poet Rilke, and ‘carpe diem’…

The descent into darkness as autumn shades to winter, always makes me aware of the frailty of us all behind our carefully constructed masks – and of the fleeting nature of our existence. Here is a beautiful, poignant poem by one of my favourite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, which captures the slow shift from ripeness to melancholy restlessness as the leaves tumble down…

AUTUMN DAY

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

 – Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

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It’s been (and is) a stormy, difficult time in the life of our extended, patchwork family;  my own life has not been exempt. But amongst it all I am basically well, and grateful to be so. All the more reason, then, to ‘seize the day’, enjoy what life has to offer: in our case, the welcome company of Susie and Lola these last few days.

On Sunday we re-visited Pollok Park, Glasgow, UK,  introducing arty young Lola to the wonderful Burrell Collection, remembering Susie then as a little girl entranced by the leaf-strewn “Enchanted Forest” – just as Lola was on her first visit this week…history sure does repeat itself. Enjoy the photos!

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Autumn Fairy with bouquet

Autumn Fairy with bouquet

Offering?

Offering?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

 

 

Autumn: a Scottish poet’s take in words and images – with optional fairy…

“…And I rose In rainy autumn And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…” How I love those lines from Dylan Thomas’ magnificent “Poem in October”. On the first rainy, cooling, leaf-blown October day each year – that’s today, where we live! – I dig out my battered old copy of Thomas’ Collected Poems to read “Poem in October” to myself, whilst gazing out of our third floor window into the Botanic Gardens below, just beginning to unfold its autumn glory.

This year, I also have the pleasure of presenting a new, vibrant autumn poem, Mabon Moon, from Scottish poet Carole Bone, whose work I have featured several times before on this blog. Carole’s poetic senses express themselves visually as well as verbally; I’m delighted to be accompanying the poem with some of her autumnal images.

Woodland Sprite

Woodland Sprite

And the optional fairy? Chainsaw Creations have just recently spirited her into delightful Cairnhill Woods, near Glasgow, Scotland, UK, where Carole takes many photographs.  “If you go down to the woods today…”

 

 

 

 

MABON MOON

Gaudy Summer fades.

Autumn ignites the soul

With fingers of fire

 

Lusty red and purple berries

Shamelessly plump!

Bejewel her slender branches

Luscious Berries

Luscious Berries

 

With wanton abundance

She scatters fruit and seed

Consummating the fertile earth

 

Soft mist and wood smoke

Spices cold sharp air as

The Mabon Moon arises

 

Like a ripe orange, sits

On a basket of naked branches

Crazy paving the October sky

Turning Leaf

Turning Leaf

 

Slowly she drops her gown

Of smouldering scarlet and gold

Fiercely blushing in coy embarrassment

 

Season of sensuous knowledge

Voluptuous in velvet colour

Honeysweet in her decay.

 

N.B.  Says Carole: “In Pagan or Wiccan tradition, Mabon is the mid-harvest festival at the Autumn Equinox when we honour the changing seasons.  It is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether  abundant crops or other blessings.  The full Moon after the equinox is called the Mabon, Harvest or Hunter’s Moon.”

Carole Bone

Carole Bone

To see Carole’s bio and her publications list, click

Carole Bone – Bio and Publications

Contact Carole at: carolebone@hotmail.co.uk

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Sick of politics and politicians? Read this poem!

I have got to the stage in life where I am so sick of politics and politicians that I only vote – I always vote – because I know that women fought and died for me to have that vote.

But it does seem these days that in ‘mature’ democracies such as we have in the UK and the USA, power, influence and money are increasingly concentrated in the hands of those who are not much in touch with the needs of our planet or the will of the people.

Sectarian polarisation seems to be growing worse, and not just in the turmoil and bloodshed of the Middle East: look at the stasis existing in the USA between Republicans and Democrats, and the despair which that impasse is generating amongst ‘ordinary’ voters. In Scotland, of course, we have an increasingly strident shouting match as the 18th September Independence Referendum on Scotland’s future – and that of the whole United Kingdom – draws near.

So – when I came across this wonderful poem by Wendel Berry in a recent post by my favourite blogger, Linda Leinen at The Task at Hand, it spoke to me, loud and clear. I hope it speaks to you, wherever you are:

The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union

From the union of power and money,

From the union of power and secrecy,

From the union of government and science,

From the union of government and art,

From the union of science and money,

From the union of genius and war,

From the union of outer space and inner vacuity,

The Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

There is only one of him, but he goes.

He returns to the small country he calls home,

His own nation small enough to walk across.

He goes shadowy into the local woods,

And brightly into the local meadows and croplands.

He goes to the care of neighbors,

He goes into the care of neighbors.

He goes to the potluck supper, a dish

From each house for the hunger of every house.

He goes into the quiet of early mornings

Of days when he is not going anywhere.

Calling his neighbors together into the sanctity

Of their lives separate and together,

In the one life of the commonwealth and home,

In their own nation small enough for a story

Or song to travel across in an hour, he cries:

Come all ye conservatives and liberals

Who want to conserve the good things and be free,

Come away from the merchants of big answers,

Whose hands are metalled with power;

From the union of anywhere and everywhere;

By the purchase of everything from everybody at the lowest price

And the sale of anything to anybody at the highest price;

From the union of work and debt, work and despair;

From the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed.

From the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation,

Secede into the care for one another

And for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth.

Come into the life of the body, the one body

Granted to you in all the history of time.

Come into the body’s economy, its daily work,

And its replenishment at mealtimes and at night.

Come into the body’s thanksgiving, when it knows

And acknowledges itself a living soul.

Come into the dance of the community, joined

In a circle, hand in hand, the dance of the eternal

Love of women and men for one another

And of neighbors and friends for one another.

Always disappearing, always returning,

Calling his neighbors to return, to think again

Of the care of flocks and herds, of gardens

And fields, of woodlots and forests and the uncut groves,

Calling them separately and together, calling and calling,

He goes forever toward the long restful evening

And the croak of the night heron over the river at dark.

~ Wendell Berry

(NOTE: I had to put in a small dash to indicate verse breaks, since my WordPress programme for reasons best known to itself, refused to let me create spaces between verses. Purists, please forgive me!)

700 words copyright Wendell Berry/Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Scottish poet Carole Bone: this time, The Voice!

Here are six new poems by Carole, read by her with her usual panache at a recent poetry reading hosted by Glasgow’s Oxfam Book Shop, Byres Road, in the Autumn of 2013. Do have a listen! Any feedback in the form of comments would be welcome. 

Carole Bone
reads her own poems
Carole Bone

Carole Bone

To see Carole’s bio and her publications list, click

Carole Bone – Bio and Publications

Contact Carole at: carolebone@hotmail.co.uk

100 words copyright Carole Bone/Anne Whitaker /2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Surreal, macabre….yes, that’s Scottish poet Carole Bone!

  • Here are two new poems by Carole, read by her with great relish at recent poetry readings hosted by Glasgow’s Oxfam Book Shop, Byres Road, in the Spring and Autumn of 2013. I’m sure you will agree that she has a distinct feel for the surreal and the macabre!
  • ( please, readers, accept my apologies for the peculiar perpendicular dots on the left side of this page. Try though I might, I could not erase them….my contribution  to the surreal, if not the macabre!)
  • IN MY DREAMS
  • In my dreams I can fly if it takes my fancy
  • There’s a two tailed talking dog called Clancy
  • Who plays Flamenco guitar telling tall-dog-tales
  • Of giant clockwork cats with ears like sails
  • In my dreams I live in a house made of cheese
  • Blow bubblegum bubbles with effortless ease
  • So big that they lift me up-up in the air
  • Did I mention Clancy has electric blue hair?
  • In my dreams time is measured by dandelion clocks
  • There are NO spiders and NO odd socks
  • Doris the Mermaid sings Aerosmith songs
  • Eating anchovy ice cream and egg foo yong
  • In my dreams there are many magical things
  • Bright yellow dragons with duffle coat wings
  • Corkscrew daisies grow fifteen feet high
  • Clancy likes them…. You can understand why
  • In my dreams many things transmogrify
  • But they ARE only dreams, so can YOU tell me why
  • When I wake with Clancy no longer there
  • My pillow has strands of electric blue hair?
  • ON THE OTHER HAND….

  • EVERYONE HAS A BOOK INSIDE
  • She s-mothered him till he was forty-five, her precious child,
  • fussing over him, prune lipped and pillow breasted,
  • a benevolent dictator.
  • He simmered like the bubbling fat in the fryer
  • of the family fish’n’chip shop.
  • Three Generations Son!!!
  • He despised it, and her.  The acrid smell
  • of grease and the way it
  • clung to everything.
  • What he really wanted, was to paint a Masterpiece
  • or write a Bestseller or go hot air ballooning
  • up the Orinoco.
  • One Sunday afternoon, he was painting the masterpiece
  • that was the kitchen door and she was prattling
  • ON and ON about potatoes.
  • When it suddenly occurred to him that
  • there was NOT that much
  • to say about potatoes.
  • He saw his life then, peeled and chipped.
  • Deep-fried and wrapped up in
  • yesterdays newspaper
  • discarded on a Friday night, cold and half eaten
  • and he pushed her in the chipper.
  • Then, inspired
  • he picked up his pen and a fresh sheet of paper.
  • Smoothed it carefully.  At last!
  • Fodder for the bestseller!

Carole Bone

Carole Bone

To see Carole’s bio and her publications list, click

Carole Bone – Bio and Publications

Contact Carole at: carolebone@hotmail.co.uk

500 words copyright Carole Bone/Anne Whitaker /2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Guest writer Carole Bone: “Poetry – Pain, Pleasure and the Pen”

In the late 1990s Carole Bone turned up in my daytime astrology class: red hair, big eyes, bright mind, very eager to learn, fast talker, very hard to keep her quiet. Irrepressible. A great student to teach.

Some ten years later, she began, tentatively, showing me her poems: it was obvious that she is a born writer.

I remember thinking  “She’ll be getting published before long.” Sure enough, in 2011 she won a national poetry prize of £1000 with her poem ‘Stardancing‘ and has continued to develop as a poet. Click HERE to read her first published poem. Her first collection should be appearing before too long! ( Carole – did you hear that…..?)

Carole has kindly agreed to be my first Guest writer of 2014. Here she talks about why poetry is such a special creative medium for her. The next post will feature two of Carole’s recent poems.

Carole says: I was first attracted to writing poetry because I found I could say things in a poem that were difficult to express in other forms of writing.

So much can be said within the creative space of a poem to create a unique piece of art that touches the human soul in a way no other form of writing can.  Poetry has this limitless, creative magic other forms of writing do not have because it is not bound by the usual constraints and structures of grammar, sentence and context.  It is therefore arguably the most creative form of writing.

Developing as a poet can be hard work and not as easy as you might think. The freedom of all this amazing creative space can be overwhelming rather than inspirational.

I am reminded of a quote by Gene Fowler – “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”.   I think most writers would agree that sometimes it can indeed feel as though blood rather than sweat is shed finding just the right words for a poem.

Engaging in writing poetry stretches your abilities as you strive to master the art of showing readers a scene through imagery, creating something that comes alive in the reader’s mind.

The challenge is to grab the reader’s heart by appealing to their senses, using words and images that make them feel.  That the reader connects emotionally with characters and their plights is essential to generate the visceral response you seek. This is achieved by learning how to use language that evokes emotions without telling readers what they should be feeling, to “Show not tell”.

Words must be carefully selected; every single one must be necessary to the poem. The writer must also learn how to be economical with language. The meaning of each word in a poem must be weighed carefully; connotation can mean the difference between a poem with depth and a poem that feels flat.

Melody too, has a natural affinity with poetry.  Similarly, a well crafted poem flows in meter, rhythm and cadence. A musicality is present in both which can have a physical effect on the listener.

Inspiration can flourish from almost anything.  An intriguing word, a dream, an image, an experience – your own or someone else’s.The list is endless.  The subject can be anything from comic to tragic, fact to fantasy and everything in between.  The crafting of a poem as it comes to life, weaving words to create a scene or story, is ultimately highly satisfying.  It can even feel as if  the poem is growing, taking on a life of its own.

The opportunity to develop your skill as a poet is boundless but there is an aspect to writing that I found both unexpected and magical.  When I first started to write it was a very private experience, but when I finally shared my efforts I was amazed at how something I had written had perhaps made someone ponder for a moment, smile, shed a tear or simply just enjoy.

That truly is an indescribable pleasure: a gift well worth every drop of “blood” squeezed from the brow to the page….

Carole Bone

Carole Bone

To see Carole’s bio and her publications list, click

Carole Bone – Bio and Publications

Contact Carole at: carolebone@hotmail.co.uk

700 words copyright Carole Bone/Anne Whitaker /2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Poetic homage to Autumn: authors known and unknown….

Today is another glorious autumn day in my adopted home city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Our default position here is wet, often cold, resolutely cheerful in an ironic, defiant kind of way. Today is different. There is a reflective, drifty mood around. There is hazy warmth in the sun. Park benches in the leaf-strewn park are full of outdoor lunchers – our last chance till the Spring?

And I am feeling melancholic, but in a good way….reflective….poetic. Here are two autumnal poems I hope you will enjoy. The first needs no introduction. The second, whose author I do not know and with whom google was no help, I found pinned to a board inside the David Elder Chapel, an exquisite, still jewel of a hidden place within Glasgow’s Western Infirmary.

Enjoy the poems – and this season!

KNOWN….

One fallen leaf....

One fallen leaf….

http://users.commspeed.net/~fireskye/images/a…

‘Autumn’   by ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

O Lord, it is time

The summer was so vast

Put your shadows on the sundials

And in the fields let the wind loose.

Order the last fruits to become ripe

Give them two more sunny days

Push them to fulfillment

And force the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

He who has no house now will not build one

He who is alone will be so for a long time to come

Will stay awake, read, write long letters

And restlessly walk in the park among the blown leaves.

(Translated by Charlotte Schmid)

and UNKNOWN….

Autumn, River Kelvin, Glasgow

Autumn, River Kelvin, Glasgow

photo: Anne Whitaker

I am the Season of Autumn

I am pleased to meet you

I  am the season of Autumn.

I am the Harvest of Spring and Summer’s labour.

I am the fruits, the grains, the berries,

The beautiful colours of a glorious planet.

Winding down after a frenzy of activity.

I am the gentle approach to my sister Winter.

When Autumn leaves begin to fall it is time to

Prepare for colder weather and to remind each

Other of those who are most vulnerable.

During the longer night please give of

Your time to those who really need it.

Know that essentially the whole worth

Of a kind deed lies in the love that inspired it.

Eternal happiness is seldom found by those who seek it,

Never by those who seek it for themselves.

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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