It’s strange to think I haven’t added anything here for over a year, but then… when #stupidrona landed, like many, my writing kind of switched off. Whether pen-to-paper or fingertips-to-keyboard, everything that came out was angst-dumping – not what I actually wanted to write and with a few exceptions, not very interesting. My visual art didn’t suffer the same fate, probably because I’m a bricoleur (making art out of junk, using whatever comes to hand) and therefore driven by materials, something beyond my anxious, stressed psyche. However, I did manage some poetical activity, including finding my way onto Poetry for Wellbeing courses led by the 2020-21 Hampshire Laureate Kathryn Bevis.
I’m not a poetry newcomer, but any prompts within a supportive environment are valuable, especially during times of brain-fragility, and it worked – new poems began to spring forth, from me and from others in the group. More than that, poems that weren’t only about ‘aaarrrgh’ though sometimes that was the right topic, especially when we hit topics like ‘childhood’ and ‘family’. Those aspect of life can (should) be wonderful; they can also not be. I was great to geek out a bit, throw some lexicon to the breeze and delve into being a slime-mould, thinking like a photon, or simply exploring more familiar writing-seeds like ‘I Come From’. It turned out, I’d never written an ‘I Come From’ poem before, so, always more to learn, gaps to fill, waters to swim in. The photon’s-viewpoint poem turned into Opticks, a skewed look at Isaac Newton’s work, and this is the one that made its way into the course anthology, Where I’m Coming From. Other poems from the courses are off in the limbo of submission-space and one has just been accepted by a magazine I’ve been hoping to get work into (more of that another time). The courses brought together a vibrant, talented group of people, some new to poetry, some not, and there are still spin-off groups meeting, writing and sharing. Thanks go to Kathryn for running the courses and editing the book, Deborah Neubauer of Hampshire Cultural Trust for admin and organisation, and to the other poets who’ve been splendid. Brains may still be fragile, but this has helped immensely.