Saturday, 31 August 2013

Knit, knit, knit ...

I'm halfway through my latest knitting project and thought I'd pop it on the blog.  It's a short sleeved cotton top in candy colours.  It's taking a while to knit as it's a very fine yarn and the lacy panel is slow to knit - I have to concentrate or I make a silly mistake (which takes AGES to unpick!)

I thought that rather than take a photo on the dining table, as per my usual style, I'd drape the knitting 'artistically' over a bush in the garden.  Well, I'm not sure how successful it is but it's certainly different!  The colours are a little washed out - the edges are lilac and the main body is a minty green.  

Friday, 9 August 2013

Poetry please!

I've just had a wonderful two days at the Ashmolean museum writing poetry based on the art and artifacts housed there.  It's a technique called ekphrastic poetry (such an ugly word for a lovely process!)  The course was Poetry Confronting Art and it was part of the summer school at the Ashmolean.  It was so lovely to get away from life for a while and lose myself in writing.  I managed two poems, one of which may be divided into two at some stage, as per the suggestions on the day of the readings.

It's always scary reading out my work - I'm always terrified that people will laugh - and not in the places where I want them to!  However I bit the bullet and was surprised that people were very kind.  I wish I could write deep, profound poems but they never end up like that even if I try.

The people on the course were really nice; lots of expertise as well which was inspiring.  I'm even thinking of writing a series of poems inspired by the works in the Ashmolean and publishing it via Kindle.  Would that be too much?  Am I getting carried away again?

We had to choose something from the museum as the inspiration for our poem.  This proved to be really hard, there are so many things in the museum and many of them are beautiful and fascinating and would make wonderful inspirations.  So I spent 25 minutes wandering through the galleries, changing my mind over and over until I thought there was no way I was going to be able to choose anything.  Then I wandered into the C19th gallery on the 3rd floor and there he was - Satan!  A wonderful and beautiful sculpture of Satan by Jean Jacques Feuchere; love at first sight!  I knew that I could get something out of this as it was such a powerful and stunning piece.  I grabbed a few pictures on my phone and headed back to start writing.

I brainstormed many ideas before beginning to write - I don't usually do that when I write, I usually just plough straight in and see what happens.  This time I spent more time planning then started writing and let the poem go where it wanted to.  Some editing later and the poem had taken shape.  I even had time to write another poem based on another piece in the museum!  So here is my poem inspired by the sculpture of Satan.  Enjoy!

The hardest fall is from the highest place,
From privilege and power to rejection and misery.
Protective wings, once feathered and light
Now transformed to scale and claw,
Shielded the defeated Satan
From the wrathful glare of God.

The luminous beauty of his still angelic face
Shines through disfiguring horn and fang.
A handsome face, fine featured and unmarked
In pensive repose after his unparallelled fall.
A creature of light and air was Lucifer,
First among angels, chosen and beloved.
Now here hides Satan, defeated and cast aside,
The embodiment of evil, of rebellion quashed.

Where are the wounds?
Where is the pain of defeat?
I see only power, strength and beauty,
The artist smoothing away the harsh reality of a war lost.
The fallen angel serves to warn us
Never to lose God's love and grace.
Yet in this figure I see none of the pain of defeat,
The scars, the wounds,
The body too perfect and unmarked
Considering the brutality of the battle.

This is Feuchere's Satan - where or what is mine?
I hanker for a medieval Satan,
Someone to fear, to dread, to avoid.
The tempter, drawing me away from the true path,
To be struggled against and once again defeated
By the power of my faith.
I actually see him as a shadowy figure, hidden from view,
Always about to tap me on the shoulder.
The voice in my head urging me on
To naughtiness, to excess, to rebel.
He made me dye my hair blue, pierce my ears,
Ride a motorbike, smoke and drink,
And choose unsuitable men and toxic relationships.
He taught me to swear, to curse,
To cross the road without looking both ways,
To take the shaky path, to throw caution to the wind.
To lie, to cheat, to hurt those I have loved.

Although I fear the condemnations, the loss, the dark,
I have heard his voice and followed.
So now I conform, choose the safe way,
Rock no boats and drive my rebellious self down.
I hide that person from the world,
Smile and present a picture of modern Western woman,
Daughter, sister, wife, mother - all as it should be.