Getting lost with a map

7 Oct
Jean Atkin workshop

Jean Atkin workshop

‘Here is a map.’
‘I don’t like maps.’
‘Can we use a satnav?’
‘There won’t be a test. It’s in the spirit of dadaism’

Jean Atkin kicks off the Poetry Swindon festival Big Poetry Weekend with a workshop, and asked us to get lost with a map. ‘You discover a place once with a map, then again when you visit,’ she said.

My eye was drawn to Bettiscombe Manor House and my mind to horror, which to anyone who knows me is far from a shock association. Dredging up my map skills the ye olde writing meant a historical site and the jam-packed series of irregular lines around it – some pretty steep hills.

Bettiscombe Manor House
I hide in a tight valley,
Sheepish slopes rise on all sides.
Children bring tabogans to Sliding Hill
Oh, some time ago.
No snow for years;
One great fall and the clouds were finished.
These days fun is found in my bare broken bones,
Then treachery on mildewed steps
Down inside to the cellar.

At that point, one poem up and still fun in the edits, I thought I’d quit while ahead.

Jean Atkin’s workshop was at the Richard Jefferies Museum on 6 October 2016, part of Poetry Swindon’s Big Poetry Weekend.

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison

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