Swindon Festival of Poetry – Is it Nearly Christmas?

11 Oct
Collectively writing

Collectively writing

Is it nearly Christmas? I wrote a seasonally related poem at Matt Holland’s ‘Poetry and Life’ workshop on Tuesday, the final day of the Swindon Festival of Poetry.

I can’t take all the blame/credit. It was a joint effort. After reading and discussing other poetic works and how they tackle life – and how ‘language can free you and bind you’ – and how poetry differs to prose (‘Poetry can mean something different to what it says,’ said poet Robert Frost and ‘prose is obliged to mean what it says’ said Matt) we collectively tried our own work.

We didn’t write one through discussion – not sure how that could ever work – but through a version of a child’s game where one person starts off a story or picture, then another adds to it.

I talked in the last post about poetry inspired by pictures but this time we made our own pictures then wrote our poem to go with it.

So how did I end up with a Christmas poem? Well the first person drew an abstract squiggle on a piece of paper. The second turned it into something figurative and real. The third gave it a title and the fourth wrote a stanza or two. This meant each of the seven participants had a hand in four of the finished pieces.

My piece of paper waiting for a poetic masterpiece (it is still waiting) was a picture of a house and the title: The House Without a Chimney. So this is what popped into my head. I didn’t say it would be pretty:

Father Christmas will be mad.
Father Christmas will be sad.
Good behaviour go unrewarded.
Bad behaviour all but applauded.
So he left the presents by the front door and hoped they weren’t nicked.

Not just creative fodder, but also a great game for all ages. (Other Chronicler Pete said: “So you’ve spent a week listening to the best poetry the nation can offer and you’ve come out with that!?!” Well I enjoyed myself.)

Matt finished with reading September Sonnet written for his wife, Andrea, for her birthday, inspired by Shakespeare’s Shall I compere thee to a summer’s day. It was one of those poems you feel privileged to have had shared with you – a personal love poem, not filled with youthful passion but drawn from a life spent together and knowing another’s character as much as your own.

PS Matt sent me September Sonnet to add to this post, enjoy:

Shall I compare you to an autumn night?
You are more warm and much more harvest moon
Short days do steal the summer’s fading light
And all this season brings is gone too soon.
Sometimes September leaves us cold and chilled
And often is its gold complexion dimmed
But you are constant, calm, and with love filled
Your flowers grow, though borders go untrimmed.
The way you cook is way beyond compare
You look to needs that matter, and beds well-made
Our offspring grow from all your love and care
Your vegetables leave others in the shade.
And now, dear A, you’re two score years and ten
You should be happy as a farmyard hen.

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