Celebrating

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It’s UNESCO World Poetry Day. It seems fitting to post as much poetry on social media today of all days.  It also is keeping me at the task post-Arvon with writing and revising poems using the skills that Carola Luther passed on in our one-to-one mentoring session.  

 

Some people think poetry is an elitist activity. It’s not.  It’s about the soul seeking the form to express its longings.  Well, all art does that; poetry uses words and rhythm. When we only had the oral tradition they were songs.  Now we like to let the words sing and dance across a surface- page, screen, or even a wall.

 

Everyone needs poetry. We often turn to poetry during those liminal times of life to help us navigate and articulate transitions- birth, death, endings and beginnings.  Why else is Spring such a popular topic for poets?  It’s an annual beginning that goes on giving.

This poem was inspired by a browse through Manchester Art Gallery with my creative colleagues from Cavan.  The words in bold type are stencilled on a wall in the interactive gallery, which is also a great play space for kids to get creative. Or, in my case, a middle-aged woman with a word fetish.

 

Words On the Wall of the Interactive Gallery

 

Lean goes forward.

Balance backwards.

Place is context.

Positive is space.

Negative, its absence.

Edge is a paper cut,

Dimension, a paper doll.

Form, dressmaker’s dummy.

Shape is fabric.

Line is the ending.

Collide is Oomph! and Ah! And Ha!

Chance is one’s fortune.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Bee Smith sojourned in March 2014 with the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme “Developing Creative Practice Across Borders” to Yorkshire and Lancashire organised by the Cavan Arts and the Social Inclusion Unit offices. She is keeping up the new found creative writing habit now she is back home in the wilds of West Cavan.

Returning

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I started the day writing.

This is the first day of resuming my writing life since getting home from my sojourn, free writing, walking around with some characters that have taken residence in my head since The Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank. Fortunately they are a family that travels light. Then I had a poem revisit me. It was a single line that I had previously doodled poem around. This time there was a fragment, an underscored word that came out of our last workshop with Clare Shaw in Manchester. Memory can be so selective. Fortunately, in creative writing the dust bunnies of your brain are completely recyclable. My creative writing life is still in Renaissance.

My room got redecorated while I was away. My pictures aren’t back up on the walls so it looks like very blank canvas. I walked down the corridor for the official unveiling to see a sign posted. Novelist’s Room

Writing makes us vulnerable; self-doubt an occupational hazard. To have that faith and support is so precious. Thanks, honey! Not every writer, women writers especially, have that level of good will from their nearest and dearest.

While I was away the daffodils began to bloom in the fairy garden. I spotted the first primrose on the dog’s potty walk early this morning. Lots of lambs have been born, fleece still all pristine. A neighbour has put a donkey in the next field. Our rural life mirrors the sense of renewal I am experiencing in my writing life.

One of our cats, Zymina,must have missed me. She a fairly reserved outdoor girl who has taken up residence at my feet, purring fit to power the national grid for the past three hours. The dog has crept under a corner of the duvet close beside her. She started life known as the unsociable Skitty Kitty. Obe is congenitally deaf and has some attitude issues. These two are bonded. They have no fear. In their individual ways they express love for each other and me. We’ve established our boundaries. We respect how we communicate.

In a way, this cat and dog are great teachers in character development. Also that love casts out fear- of there not being enough love or understanding to go around in the animals’ case. For my writing life: fear of inspiration running dry, obstacles and funks, of what wild exhilaration would happen if it all came together, of not getting published/getting published.

When it all comes alive in my head and I find the words matching the image- that’s love.

Bee Smith has just landed back home in Cavan from a fortnight’s sojourn to the Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank and Manchester. The course was part of the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme funded by the EU and Leargas. The programme was the brain child of Cavan County Council’s Arts Office and Social Inclusion Unit.

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Disembarking

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Travelling back is wearying. It’s not just hauling luggage, the stairs that seem to be everywhere, the cramped quarters on mini-buses and planes. It is also about the virtual luggage- the ideas, the projects in progress, the images and triggers for creativity. I woke up in the B&B this morning and had another character development occur.  (And as I may have mentioned before, I am not a morning person!)

 

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Yesterday before heading to the airport Kay Carmichael and I took a long and leisurely look at all the galleries at the Manchester Art Gallery. We had visited earlier in the week with the group to use art as creative writing triggers. As we saw in the Pre-Raphaelite galleries especially, I noticed that the prompts work as a two way street. Many painters took their inspiration from text-poems, The Bible, Shakespeare and classical myths.

These Chinese statues felt particularly apt for our two week writing sojourn. Creativity thrives on contemplation and inspiration. The statue behind inspiration shows the figure peeling back his mask-like skin to his original face. This is a Buddhist concept akin to our original blessing of creativity.

When I left Cavan I had had a winter where I wasn’t sure if I would ever write much other than blogs ever again. My creative well felt dry. These last two weeks have really topped up that well. For this I am incredibly grateful to the Cavan Arts and Social Inclusion offices and the EU. They funded this trip to fire creativity in people living in Cavan.  I return to Cavan and the daffodils are out in the garden. I feel like a creative writer reborn.

Ireland often frets about the state of its economy. But if you nurture your creative artists something magical happens to the wider society. NYC was on its knees in the 1970s. But the likes of Lou Reed and Andy Warhol squatted old warehouse lofts and just got with the business of being creatives. Today those neighbourhoods they gatecrashed are some of the most valuable bits of real estate on the planet. Similar has happened in London where grotty Hackney of the 1980s is now BritArt Central.

We just have to believe we can do it here as well and trust in the process.

Bee Smith has been sojourning in Yorkshire and Manchester with eleven other Cavan Residents as part of the EU funded Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning programme. This trip was coordinated by Catriona at Cavan Arts office and Emer in the Social Inclusion Unit.

Thanks to my Cavan Creative Colleagues of the past fortnight: Kate (who kept us on course throughout), Amanda Jane, Carina, Dearbhla,Ita, Kay, Tricia, Brian, Gerry, Joe and Kelan. We are all amazing writers.