from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 2 October 2011

september + poems

Hello friends

I'm aware I've been blog-absent the last fortnight or so – it's the busiest time of my year, and having been ill there's work stacked everywhere I look. But from here, autumn greetings on this stunning early-October morning with those soft mists alighting on the many cobwebs and the sun breaking through like an impression of itself.

When I offered the INSET teacher-training day for the Prince's Trust PoetryQuest project, my co-tutor was friend and colleague Anthony Wilson. Our styles are very different and complementary, and we ran a workshop each.

Anthony used the poem 'Autumn' by Iain Crichton Smith as a way of talking about writing about a subject by breaking the grip of our 'usual' language in relation to certain themes. We were encouraged to call out all the words we habitually associate with autumn and then forbidden to use them in our poems.

In my correspondence course I use exercises that stimulate our thinking about familiar subjects in unfamiliar ways (by challenging our individual 'default' vocabulary as well as expanding our imaginative and associative responses beyond the clichéd), so when my lovely Two Rivers poetry group met here yesterday I co-opted Anthony's exercise to combine it with my own.

Here are the drafts of my responses to the subject, but I've allowed myself to re-include some of the more iconic autumn-in-England imagery.

Selling the Wind

Autumn is gales, owl-call, dusty chrysanths
and Michaelmas daisies, logs
from the dry-store, a net over summer,
first pumpkins, conkers, the shortening
of days, first blaze in the hearth;

is cloud-cover, light slant on the meadow
and haze in the valley, swallows
jostling the lines, a pride of horses
cantering towards night, slight hint
of restlessness in your lover’s eyes.


Sun's rays are slant
cut the air with the texture
of longing.

In the strewn borders
the first small autumn cyclamen
push up into their love affair
with light and drizzle;
squrrels strip the trees.

We find it hard to be clear,
feel the need to tidy
our lives.


I remember new T-bar sandals
the creak of a huge leather satchel,
the fear even then that it might
not be big enough for the learning
it would need to carry.

Gulls come inland.
Bees are drowsy, slow.
The evening's mead-and-honey-luminous.

Michaelmas daisies
are the colour of longing.

Everything speaks of leaving.


~ Roselle Angwin October 2011

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