Poem On October

In the final week of October, I was Resident Writer at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse. This project, ‘Poem in October‘, saw a number of different writers running events and engaging with visitors in the beautiful museum and tea rooms. I was the last of these, and my week, which I called ‘Poem ON October’, saw me collating, collecting, and encouraging poems from people visiting the Boathouse who had travelled, in some cases, not just from other towns and cities but from other countries, as well.

I collected over 200 poems on October, autumn, the Boathouse, and the stunning estuary views, and put these together into a grand group poem, which you can read below. I used at least one line or phrase from each poem received – no mean feat!! I managed to include something from every poem, apart from two. This one:

I found a pumpkin

It had a lump in

its mouth. I found it

in a forest,

I named it Boris.

Um… Hard to fit this one in! And another, rhyming poem, which told, in brief, the story of the life of Dylan Thomas. It was too hard to include that, when I had asked everyone else to write about autumn / October / the views! So, sorry if these are your poems. I don’t think Dylan would have minded! The poem below is thematically more sound with these exclusions. And, well, Boris is indeed a pumpkin, but politics are not for this project, really, either…

Many thanks to all who took time to write with me at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, in any case. It was fun! And I think the end result is very interesting. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Poem On October

by Visitors to the Boathouse, 25th – 30th October 2016

compiled by Mab Jones

 

(i)

October is the time of change.

Autumn has begun.

Autumn it is dawning.

The hillside ripples with Autumn greens.

Leaves as red as fire.

Trees of gold and green.

Low lying light.

The flurry of the Autumn wind.

Apples falling,

falling down,

dancing off the trees,

dancing in the air,

tumble and skitter

in our pathway,

under feet, where

a blanket of leaves

lie. They love tumbling

down, orange

red and brown.

Brown, yellow, green.

Crunching, rustling,

a kaleidoscope of burnished memories

in this breezy, hidden forest where

roots raucously roam.

 

(ii)

There is nothing about the autumn

that I wouldn’t like to repeat next year.

 

A pot of Earl Grey and

Welsh rarebit.

The woodburner’s glow.

Smells from bonfires.

Eating biscuits.

Thick jumpers

and fluffy socks,

the donning of scarves.

Hot chocolate, fireworks,

murmured conversation and

roaming dogs.

Paw prints along the path.

Big castles.

The wind blows in your face.

Cosy in bed.

To walk on the hill’s shoulder.

Still autumn views.

Ride your bike as leaves fall.

We can run in the leaves.

Autumn is the best,

especially in the West.

The month of my birth,

and yours.

 

Bonkers, conkers, muddy shoes

leaving crisp, gentle footprints.

Put some big socks on.

 

Apple and cinnamon,

pumpkin and sage,

the tastes and smells of October,

when the grass is jewelled.

hedgehogs, squirrels

munching on acorns,

conkers, horse chestnuts,

stunning sun rises,

the misty mornings,

smoke curling up the chimney,

swirling sweetness,

October of our lives.

 

(iii)

October winds growing stronger,

October waves growing bolder,

The wind is howling,

an explosion of crows.

Autumn leaves are falling.

October grey sun.

Seeds holding the promise of fruit.

My heart, made of leaves.

 

Birds squealing with delight

at dusk, and at dawn.

Plain at noon.

Sun dazzled beaks.

The seagulls swoop,

the curlews cry.

Lapping water.

Boats splashing on the sea.

Thigh-wadered fisherman.

The glistening river as it flows.

An atmosphere of calm.

Streaks of silvery light.

Lonely boat on sandy bank.

The choppy sea is flowing.

 

Ebb…. and flow.

The clouds roll in.

The sea rolls out.

 

(iv)

Summer’s grave, autumn’s gate.

Halfway back from nowhere.

Wide brooding, dull and greying, skies.

Animals start going into hibernation.

No more heat, no more sun.

A little auk drifting in on the tide,

sloe-black eyes staring blindly.

A scary orange pumpkin

that has no mouth or nose,

a hollow stare,

cackles creepily.

Pumpkins lighting up like torches.

A bird as black as coal, fast as the wind.

The fall of giants.

The skeletons of the trees,

the spider-like branches.

Fingers of mist.

Chilly fingers scaling your face.

Spooky ghosts.

Hijacked / ambushed.

The days go cold.

The trees sway.

Decaying leaves.

Muted shades.

Beaches deserted,

sun retreating.

Winter is knocking

round the corner.

Winter comes soon.

Then it’s snowing.

The day ends quickly,

rattling across the years.

 

(v)

Memories made,

Never to be forgotten.

An October birthday.

The view is beautiful.

Under silk moods.

Whiskey to the heart.

Full of peace, being playful.

We will be fellow adventurers together,

each year will be a new year we’ve grown.

In fondo mi sento fortunato.

Today I take home a

poet’s song.
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A Poet finds Peace in the Park

Ueno Park in Tokyo is a man-made mass of flowers and trees – not made literally, of course, but picked out, planted, and designed. That sense of wildness which you find in all public parks, but tempered by man’s tastes at the time, and in that particular place on the earth.

Whether cherry trees are purposely planted or not I don’t know, except that they often exist in whole groves, which does suggest the former. In Ueno Park I came across one which was dedicated to the poet Shushiki, who composed a famous haiku about sakura (cherry blossoms) and the sake-induced tipsiness which occurs beneath their blooming branches in spring time.

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Not a dead bench dedicated to her deceased self, but a living, growing tree – ah! What a thing, for a poet, to have done for them. I do wish it was something we could all strive for! (Hashtag: I want a tree after I’m gone, too…)

A little beyond the tree is a temple which contains this ‘flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’. It’s a combination of flames found on burning houses in those cities after they were devastated by the atomic bombs seventy years ago. From what I can tell of the history, given on a sign near the memorial, this is a flame kept alive because of hate (‘resentment’), but which later burned out into a desire for peace.

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DSC_7382_2In my own experience, the heart can, at times, feel as if it is literally burning up with hatred (have you ever felt that? I have) and you can let the flame grow and consume you – or, you can extinguish it and sweep out all the cinders (which I have felt, as well – the heart ‘sweeping’ inside, cleaning itself completely of hatred. I’d be interested to know if any of you have felt that too).

Anyway, what interests me about these remembrances, is how they attempt to transmute a negative into a positive: death, into deep-rooted life; hate, into a a wish for everlasting peace. When I was a teenager, I had a few recurring sentences that played in my head for many, many years. One of these was ‘spin shit into gold’. I would hear a voice in my mind, saying it over and over and over…

Because the voice sounded like me, I assigned it to myself. I didn’t know what it meant. Now, I would say it was a guiding voice (it’s up to you to think about where this voice came from). In my own life, I feel I have successfully transmuted various negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones (it’s up to you to think about how I might have done this). One way to soothe such is to seek out more peaceful places. Perhaps parks, with their beautiful flowers and bodhi trees, are one place we can find this…

With the awful – but not unexpected – news of the Tories once again being voted into power, I feel it is important to keep our hearts free of ‘resentment’. Anger can be a fuel, and as someone who regularly takes part in local demonstrations, I feel it is important to take action and to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever we can.

However, as a poet, I also feel it is important not to let that anger eat you up. Keep the fire in your belly, but keep your heart free of it – you know what I mean…??

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As I walked round Ueno park, enjoying the greenery, the lily pads, the heron I spotted amongst the bullrushes – and as news came in of the UK’s choice to keep its NHS-dismantling, poor-hating, compassion-lacking masters – these were my thoughts, anyway. Yes, there are drunken men fighting around the cherry tree (which is ripe for the picking…) – but the cherry tree is still beautiful, isn’t it? And it will live on after the very silly men are long, long dead.

In a way, we need to focus on the eternal, the beautiful, the spiritual, in order to keep going; to feel free inside, even if we are not free without. Ah! Poetic thoughts indeed. I wonder if I’ll ever get a tree though….!??

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Stand-Up Poetry in Motion

Three top spoken word poets will be making their way to the city this month as part of the 6th Cardiff Comedy Festival. With over 80 shows on offer, this is the first time poetry has ever been included in the line-up. This is cool! Do come along to support. If this one’s a success, then we can programme even more spoken word shows next year (and include my local poet pals as well – yay!).

But, for this year, we will JUST HAVE TO MAKE DO (!) with television’s PHILL JUPITUS (aka Porky the Poet), top stand-up poet and baby-faced sex-tina writer LUKE WRIGHT, and multi-award winning stand-up/poet RICHARD SANDLING.

Oh dear *wink*.

Read an interesting interview with Jupes HERE.

Watch a hilarious and funny video made by Richard Sandling HERE.

Join in with a free Twitter Q&A this Friday 4th July from 1pm, er, THEN.

AND – book your tickets, asap, for Luke (16th July), Mr J (18th July), and Richard (19th July) via the Sherman Cymru website HERE.

See you there! x

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Supper time

Tonight I’m running a creative writing workshop with Making Minds in Aberdare. We will be re-writing the lyrics of favourite songs. I thought I would share this song that I wrote a while back, it’s to the tune of Summertime but is in a thick Caaaardiff accent!!!

Suppertime

 

Suppertime, and the chippie is easy

Fish that’s fried is so easy to buy

Just 2 quid and your dinner is sorted

Jumbo sausage and a large Clark’s pie

 

It takes hours making something nutritious

Jamie’s right, you should always try

Five a day’s the best way, but the dishes

Get used up and they pile so high

 

It’s a drag making meals every evening

Break a nail peeling veg, I ask why

So much time is consumed, you’re left feeling

You’ve been fooled as the minutes just fly

 

Save your time and your sanity, darling

Keep your plates for when momma drops by

Saveloys and fried chicken are calling

Greasy chips and a large Clark’s pie

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Making a Poetry Film

Today I made some poetry films. Filmic poems. Poem-y film things. Yes, THEM. With the help of film-makers Jack Morris (camera chap) and Max Phillips (boom bloke) two poem film babies are now being brought to birth. Is that a good metaphor? I DON’T KNOW!

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Making a #poetry film! #Cardiff #Wales

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But, I did learn a few things about making films today, so here are a few tips for you who haven’t but might, or have but it all went horribly wrong. Follow my tips and your film will turn out tops! Maybe. Don’t sue me if it doesn’t, though! I’m only a poet, like, Jack and Max did all the actual work. Anyway! Here are some things that I learned, or that I imagine, based on today’s experiences, would be helpful….

1. Get permission to film. If you don’t, for whatever reason – maybe you forgot, or couldn’t be bothered – then blag it. Have a clipboard clipping many important-looking papers together. If you are told off for filming, ask to speak to Whoever Is In Charge. It probably isn’t those two blokes wearing council t-shirts and carrying litter pickers who harassed us in Bute Park. Those guys are arse hats.

2. Be polite. People like politeness. It makes them think of Victorian dads and olde worlde values. Handlebar moustaches jump into their eyes and cloud their vision. Ladies’ handkerchieves fly into their noses and bustle skirts rustle in their ears. They remember their grandparents and go all gooey with nostalgia. They will do whatever you say. Even read out rude rhymes to camera. Politeness rocks!

3. Have batteries, both for your equipment and for your body. Duracell and cereal bars, that sort of thing, though MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE RIGHT ONE IN YOUR MOUTH HA HA! Cups of tea are good, too, BUT NOT IN THE CAMERA HA HA!

4. Memorise your poem. And make sure it is so well-memorised, practised, and performed that it’s practically the same every time you read it out. Otherwise, it can be tricky for the film makers to put the different angles/clips together afterwards, as you might be reading in different tones, or at different speeds, in each recording. Become an automaton of verse! A poetry robot! Like me!!

5. Apply make-up. Even if you are a man. A little powder will take the shine from your nose, which is probably pretty red from all the free wine you’ve imbibed at launches, readings, and so on. Looking like an alcoholic won’t help your rep at all, unless you are going for that sorta vibe. It’s the Dylan Thomas centenary, so that look is very on trend, actually.

6. If make-up isn’t going to make you look any more presentable, maybe go for animation.

7. Avant-garde may make a crap poem seem very intellectual indeed.

8. Have business cards to hand, some people might stop and ask what’s going on. You can give them a card and they will look at your website, read your work, buy your stuff, etc. Maybe you will meet The Love Of Your Life. Or, Your Future Stalker. Who knows!!!?

9. Alternatively, tell them you are filming the new Doctor Who. NOTE: THIS ONLY WORKS IN CARDIFF. Tell them you are the first female Doctor. NOTE: THIS ONLY WORKS ON STUPID PEOPLE.

10. Get someone famous to star in your film. It will not only make the poem seem cooler and more well-crafted than it is, it will also get you loads more views. We got Superman. Thanks, Supes!

Anyway, my poetry films will be online very, very soon, and then I will blog in your face about em. Any questions, please let me know via this email: imjustapoet@asksomeoneelse.com Cheers! x