Saturday, 5 June 2010

The music of being human

Keats house in Hampstead. I was at an Arvon poetry workshop yesterday run by Rommi Smith who is the poet in residence at the house. Writing in the garden. Ducking into the shade at every opportunity. It was the hottest day of the year so far.

The workshop was called "The music of being human" and drew for inspiration on Keats' love letters and the house and the garden where he lived for a short time. The photo shows Rommi's daisy lawn "desk'' from which she sent us out with lots of different exercises to try. (My sort of desk!)

It was my first taste of Arvon. I have a place booked on a 5 day poetry course later in the year, so this was a great taster. I loved every moment and brought away so many ideas for new pieces. So, thanks to Rommi for being such an inspiring tutor.

Here's part of my warm up written without stopping -
Being here......blackbird song is circling the plum tree, as if we are on his patch, as we too circle this tree. Jam jealous fruits litter the grass. Dry leaves circle the trunk, break up the light. We are shadowed in sun dapples, patterned in the lights and darks of such a bright day.

The breeze teases my hair, sculpts the side bit, makes it all on end, filigree, flighty, feathery, all the things it was not a moment ago. I watch it's re-styling, a grey shadowy film on my page.

I shift in my chair from one-armed sunburn that equally loves and dreads the heat, the lack of breeze. Lizards and shade loving creatures that burrow away in the dark. It seems I am both.

The village feel, the birdsong, the lawnmower, the jingle of a dog walking by, Summer hats seen walking past the fence, old brick walls, the sense that this might not be London. Five minutes walk from the tube, up and away from the constant traffic queue, the rows of red buses with no passengers on their way out of town.

But then the sirens cut in, the pneumatic drill, the sudden lurch of a banking plane on the Heathrow run. I remember a Summer spent at the ponds, floating in green soup swimming lakes, chilled with murk and mud rise, watched from 50 feet above by statuesque herons in their bare stick nest.....