Salvador Dali’s Stop Watch

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The Persistance of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931, owned by MOMA NYC

There is a long tradition of writers being inspired by visual art and vice versa. I am intrigued by the theme of memory and I really like this piece of Dali’s surrealist art. The original oil lives in the New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. I have seen the original and owned a print that travelled with me for many years as I sojourned from the USA to England and then Ireland.

I wrote a poem today and afterwards I realised that it fit with this, my favourite Dali. (The other is the dream sequence he created for Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound.) Today’s meditation on time and timelessness. This is the kind of stuff we talk about in our house…or on car journeys to collect parcels.

Savador Dali’s Stopwatch

 

when they say

pastpresentfuture

collide

or that

time stops

memory

moment

and hope

are all one

the ticking stops

the clockwork

mechanism

is not broken

just

irrelevant

 

they do not lie

Wild Roses

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The nights are long now. Twilight lingers until 11:30pm or so it seems, even with the moon waning and winding down. The hedgerows around us are  filled with an abundance of wild flowers species,  including wild roses and honeysuckle. The air I breathe ourside my door is heady with sweet scents, with a top note of wild rose on the breeze.

Yet, the upcoming Summer Solstice also marks the turn towards shortening daylight until we plunge into darkness around Samhain. Yet it is in May and June we notice the brightness most as everything in nature burgeons.

This time last year as the wild roses bloomed I was taking part in a 30 day e-course by Joanna Powell Colbert. She is also the author of the Gaian tarot deck. This morning I was pondering the Major arcana Death card, which also imcludes wild roses in the illustration.

Wild Roses

Here we are at the height of daylight.

Along the hedges roses grow wild-

White, girlish pink, and a darker hue,

Too. Five-petalled perfection.

With thorns. Wear protection.

Sting of love. Sting of death.

Grief amidst sweet fragrance

On the late afternoon breeze.
Love is never simple, running

As straight and narrow as a Roman road.

It grows in tangles like the wild rose

All  the bounty a salad tossed up with 

Honeysuckle, holly, elder and bindweed.

Even now at the sun’s height it’s dying

Perhaps seeding something else bright.

Finding Your Purpose

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When I began to write this blog back in 2014, the purpose was to document the progress of a creative writing program sponsered by Cavan Arts office with EU funding. A group of us spent a week at the Arvon Foundation’s Centre at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire, and a week in Manchester. Once back in Cavan it was time to give back to the community. (Thank you, taxpayers!)  Cavan’s Office of Social Inclusion asked if I would be willing to give a workshop in the nearby Open Prison, Loughan House. I said yes. And that has made all the differance.

Purpose, at least for me, is linked to a sense of vocation. After facilitating two workshops at Loughan House,  I realised I had a passion for working with beginner creative writers. They are inspiring examples of ‘first thought, best thought.’ I had facilitated a few workshops in a past lifetime when I lived in England. But I was still too uncertain of myself then. My boat was pretty rocky and the sea rolled beneath me.  Cavan living has been good ballast to my boat.

What is such a privelage in working with beginners, whether they are living ‘inside’ or out, is communing with virtual strangers on a soul level.So my passion and purpose unite when I lead these workshops. They may be called ‘poetry workshops’ or ‘creative writing’, but really they are held spaces where the participant can listen to that still, small voice inside and begin to record what their soul wishes to speak.  I have worked with women only, men only, young people, literacy challenged, Travellers, the settled and everything in between. They all shine on the page as they (metaphorically speaking) clear their throat and tell the story of their soul journey.

I recently posted about a workshop I facilitated at the Wise Woman Ireland Weekend last month.  Last week the feedback sheet comments popped up in my email Inbox. Here’s a sampling:

  • A wonderful workshop given by an amazing women. Got over my anxieties and learned some great tools Thank You Bee.
  • Bee is very patient and caring,her workshop inspiring. I can write a poem.
  • Fabulous got so much out of it.
  • I actually ended up in the wrong workshop, but it was the right one for me. I got a lot from the writing exercise and finding my omen Thank You Bee.
  • I wrote 3 poems fantastic energy!
  • Really lovely! A lot of thought and energy had gone in to creating it. Facilitator very responsive and able to handle what came up with gentleness and attentiveness.
  • Nice structure for us newbies.
  • I really needed this workshop it was the reason I came I know this now. Thank you so much.

In 2015 I was accepted on to the Irish Arts Council’s Writers in Prison panel. Prison work isn’t for everyone, but I have witnessed a great deal of soul getting a buffing up in a workshop. I love these guys even though I am aware that they have done harm. They are often vulnerable in their writing, so doubly brave given their circumstances.

This poem appears in my collection “Brigid’s Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine.” (The Celtic goddess Brigid presided over justice.)

For the Lads at Loughan House

The poems always start outside.

The lough is a wind rippled plain,

Open expanse with nowhere to hide.

 

Matt blue sky forms another side,

Slant of October’s light a golden vein.

The poems always start outside.

 

Starlings scythe the sky then abruptly divide.

Loneliness could drive a soul insane.

Open expanse with nowhere to hide.

 

A way to be free. A place to abide.

The dock stops here. With that I have no complaint.

The poems always start outside.

 

Freedom is a grace, just as the swan pair glides.

Time well spent is eternity’s gain.

Open expanse with nowhere to hide.

 

Behind and beyond no escaping  inside;

A way to be free, the words are that golden vein.

The poems always start outside.

Open expanse with nowhere to hide.

 

© Bee Smith 2015

Writing isn’t about fame or fortune. It’s about these precious moments of being. Also, those precious moments of being shared with others as they break through into that state of excitement when the words and emotions meet on a page, the elation of finding voice.

Only Push the Pen

NaPoWriMo2017Day29
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It’s not that I have not been writing. It’s more like I have been editting in between visits from much loved friends, cooking, feasting, playing Scrabble matches to the death.  Then it was May and the garden burgeoned and nature said, No time for pen play! Pay attention to me! It was most persuasive. But still, the pen and the notebook were there and the notebook was nearly full. Time to fill the final few pages. And despite the call of domestication, my wild mind chomped at deadlines and potential themes.

Only push the pen.

After a long pause

only push the pen.

Be patient. Before long

you will find once again

your tongue, your teeth,

tone and inflection.

Just flex the finger, that miracle

of the opposable thumb.

Only push the pen

across the page,

rest against this paper,

the pulp that was once

living tree, with roots

that still may live.

Find teeth, tongue, tone.

Flex the finger bones.

Only push the pen,

making it be alive.

Tap root. Live again.

 

NaPoWriMo2017Day29

Only Push the Pen

 

It’s a Wise Woman That Knows Omens

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“Go forth and make poetry,” I proclaimed at the end of my creative writing workship at the 2017 Wise Woman Ireland Weekend.  This year’s gathering of wise women was at Newgrange where we were able to view both the Brú and Dowth from the field beside our accommodation.  The Boyne meandered on the opposite side of the road. The theme for this Bealtaine Wise Woman Weekend was Passion, Purpose and Purity. All very timely and seasonal for the Celtic wheel of the year.

On Sunday morning ten women from around Ireland joined me on a hunt for omens and auguries using symbol and metaphor.  By the end of the two and a half-hour workshop several women had completed their very first poem.

I set us the task of creating a Treble Elevenie  using the themes Passion, Purpose and Purity as either the beginning or concluding line of the elevenie.

Nightdress

Black lace

Starlight and moondust

With body I worship

Passion

***

Connect

The points

Let magic begin

Tricking around with words

Purpose

***

Being

An urn

Complete in itself

Scenes from a life

Purity

***

Over the course of the weekend I attended two other ‘word’ workshops. In one there was a collective poem created using the ‘cut up’ method.  In the other we looked at lines of poetry in a deeply spiritual context and how it resonated within.

And did I get an omen? Yes, of a sort. But I won’t say exactly what it was, but it is summed up in this quotation from Rumi

May the beauty of what you love be what you do.

I love this writing life. I love living in Ireland. I love the deep nurture of nature and living deep in the silence and solitude of wildish West Cavan. I love how the land speaks. It makes me a wise woman and a very grateful one, too.

May Morning after NaPoWriMo2017

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It has become a habit this poetry writing in the morning. I am not a morning person. But writing in the quiet is very soothing to one who does not usually have the power of speech until two hours after rising, except to exchange civil greetings. The poetry writing neural pathway seemed to have formed a groove that I want to keep fresh and well-traveled.

But it is May Day, or Bealtaine, and in Ireland the air has turned almost balmy. Everything is all leafy and juicy green. There is sunshine and the washing machine is humming. So are the bees on the comfrey. The world may be a Bealtaine bonfire, but the birds are singing their hearts out. Which may also be why it is important to keep on and write poetry. It’s a way of building a healthy moral and emotional immune system. It builds resistance.

So, one more poem. I haven’t decided yet if I will keep posting regularly or not. I have a full collection of poems in the works. Time to get back to that. My friend Helen Shay and I are also hatching another ‘poetry conversation’, a two-hander of poems that can be performed. So keep in touch. Follow the blog if  you want to read updates.

The raw second or third drafts have been what was posted here. Yeah, there will be a lot of revising and organising in May. The NaPoWriMo2017 site joked that May is NaPoReMo – National Poetry Revision Month. I didn’t read that until I had finished a reworking of a poem drafted last September. And the person named in the poem will now have to write me one back!

paper bag poem

Paperbag Poem

 

The preserving jars

Carefully wrapped

By the shop assistant

Arrive home

Perfect

 

Smoothing out

For recycling

Recalls a September

Forty years or more

Pristine

 

Paper lunch bags

Half a cream cheese

And pimento olive

On white bread sandwich

Fridays

 

High school cafeteria

As amphitheatre

Time cascades down

Like a slinky marching

Backwards

 

Suddenly

Richard Knecht is standing up

Blowing into a brown bag

Punching it

Goes  ‘pop!’

 

Here is a brown paper bag

Naked of my name

Pencilled in

My mother’s precise

Handwriting

 

I am free to fill it

Scrawl over it

With crayon, tempura or ink

My imprecise

Imaginings

 

 

To breathe into it

Toe let it go ‘Pop!’

This brown paper bag

A memory

And object

NatPoWriMo2017 Day 30

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The final day of Poetry Writing Month. I have thirty-two poems down for this April, most have been sparked by the prompt, even if they went a bit tangential.  I quelled at the diplodic verse and the ghazal, didn’t really get the clerihew or noctourne, but fell as much in love with the elevenie as I am with haiku. The final prompt for NaPoWriMo2017 is to write about something that is repetitive. Which is a good topic to return to again and again (!)

Ingress

 

Cat’s paw patting

At the windowpane

Hovering on the sill

Neither in nor out

 

Let me in!

Again and again

Prove to me

My liberty

 

Admit nothing

Not appetite, nor love

Plush pelt,

Purr or head bump

 

Stretch seductively

As an Ingres’

Odalisque

With her slave

 

Always to hand

To come hither

Again and again

To open

 

Admit

Enter the point where

Stars and planets

Will not collide

 

They revolve

As thresholds can

In sleep

In dreams

 

Watch how they

Admit you

Enter, then freefall

Elegantly onto cat’s paws