Monday, 24 August 2015

Writing Doxey Marshes

And so I finally submitted a poem! After the advice of the ever generous Emma P, I combined my love of prose with an as yet untried Haiku form-known in the poetry world as a Haibun. Her advice was spot on and very astute as usual and although I can't say I found it easy-but what craft is?- I found that the prose sections allowed me to splurge before using the Haiku form to be more succinct. hopefully I will finally be a published poet by the Winter with 'Doxey Marshes'.  It has certainly given me the confidence to keep writing- and brings ever closer a project using my images, sketches and words together! The bare bones progress of this project will be published irregularly in my blog 'Maud 1921'.

Doxey Marshes
Doxey Marshes
by Dawn Jutton

Breath mingling with morning mist we drift through weather pitted and unknown memorials, outlived by their faded plastic tributes. Unconcerned with decoding Stafford’s past, the dog drives us on through silver guiding gates, his excitement tapped out in a random rhythm on the thin ice. White stalks of spent rushes pierce the skyline and point to a trail of labouring wings and frantic calls slicing the frozen air. The black geese, gathered on green-grassed mounds, survey potential bankside building sites and warily track our progress through their solitude.

Skeletal silence
Under exposed thin white skin -
In memoriam

The sun rises above the muted distant tower of St. Mary’s, persistent in its effort to bring pink life to the grey sky. An icy breeze mocks still water into movement towards the oblivious River Sow that’s rushing to an unknown rendevous. The riverbank is punctuated by pairs of geese and ducks, trading safety in numbers for precarious parenting amongst the protective green swords: hidden new life marked only by lone sorties for fresh supplies. We leave the disappearing and unpredictable depths of the watery path to tip toe across tufts of resilient grasses avoiding ankle deep pockets of mud, a much easier feat for the dog than us.

Watery red carpet
Stillness threaded through soft noise-
In memoriam.

From where we stand the tonal stripes of the grasses appear to form a natural flag flying in the light breeze, tentatively signaling Summer.  Encouraging ripples of sunlight dance joyfully on the water’s surface whilst thin long reeds tirelessly sway below to the unheard tune of the flow. White swans drift upstream, their sun-lined wings spread in confident celebration of their beauty and a warning to keep our distance.  Ahead of us soporific cattle swish flies from their grass filled bellies and form a guard across the path, the leader fixing her dark brown gaze on my attempt to communicate my lack of fear and danger.  The engagement ends when I feel the pull of a lead at full stretch as the dog fearfully attempts to make himself invisible and skulk past.

Lily leaf red scales  
Fingers sift burnt dry petals-
In memoriam.

We follow the egret on its’ stalk in protest of change. Unaware of their undecided future the grasses contentedly rustle alongside us, and the river races itself to the other side of the bridge.  Across the pond, a shy heron sits motionless on an anglers’ platform before launching its prehistoric form in awkward flight away from us as we approach.  From the pillar box hide that is not hidden, but sits like an uncomfortable hard grey lump on soft skin, we watch the thin silver ribbon on the blue haze of the horizon carry unconcerned travellers past this place of precarious peace and watery graves that we are desperate to protect.

Worn sandstone sentries
Guardians of marsh and life-

In memoriam

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Benefits of Poetry Workshops

Since my last post I have attended another two poetry writing workshops and discovered that whilst I enjoy the pressure of trying to compose in a short time, I am often phased by trying to bring a more formal structure into my writing. I accept the discipline is worthwhile and can add to the overall quality of writing but that the words flow less easily and it's difficult not to fall into contrived constructions.

Here are my efforts from a workshop earlier this year where Emma Purshouse led us through various forms and challenged the group to create within their constraints. The first is a Triolet (originally a Medieaval French form) that requires a complex series of rhyming lines. I chose the window displays of sewing machines as I thought the repetitive nature of sewing suited the form.
The second is an incomplete Sonnet inspired by an art exhibition in the local church at Audlem during the music and arts festival last May.


Thread through the needle's eye
Spin the bobbin round
Watch the stitches fly.
Thread through the needle's eye
Don't look up, ignore the sky
in out, in out to the pound
Thread through the needle's eye
Spin the bobbin round

Upcycled Fashionistas

We stand in judgement in this sacred space
We do not see the beauty in your art.
Your vain display in this public place
We share with blank white face and cold black heart.
Can you not see we've created style and taste,
We've bettered ourselves to show you how to dress?
We stand for tradition and make a case
For how less is more and much more is less.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Out of the tunnel

Poem ideas developed during 15minutes exercises from the workshop on 'Maps, Charts & Plans' with Emma Purshouse during the Audlem Festival on Sunday 25th May 2014.

Exercise 1. Describe yourself as a journey.

A walk on the pier
Drawn in by loudness, laughter
ice creams and screams.
Look down through separated planks,
a glimpse of unknown depths.

Exercise 2. Develop a piece of writing from a list of found place names.

They came from Little Shrewley
Looking all the same.
Small, wizened, pointy faces
looking for others to take the blame.

They made us stand on Ugly Bridge.
ugly in spirit, ugly in deed
different from them they said,
following a different creed.

But now we are on Gallows Bridge
gazing into shallow depths.
Our rainbow Cape of love and pride
blowing proudly in the breeze.

Exercise 3. Map out a well known personal route as a description for others to follow

Out the door the wind will take your breath away
even before you see the sea.
Follow the noise of mixed tongues
strolling unawares, unconcerned
into the path of cyclists
in training, in a rush.

Down the ramp framed by peeling green ironwork
into the drift of smoking fish
and discarded seafood seashells.
Past the incessant rise and fall
of circular song, and in the distance
the skeletal remains rise out of the sea
creating art from disaster.

And finally a pause, below the Grand facade
seduced to sit and sip the warm exotic scents
and watch the world go by 
wrapped in overheard conversations.

Out of a tunnel and into the light

Sheltering from a rainstorm under a canal bridge at Audlem

I can never believe the time that elapses between urges to write in my blog. 
It's not that I stop writing, I just often don't feel the need to share what I think or write.
However, sometimes you meet people in life that encourage you to re-consider the potential of what you create sporadically, and this is where the happy accident of meeting the talented, generous spirit of Emma Purshouse comes in. A stroll along the canal at Norbury Junction during the festival there a few weeks ago led to me experiencing my first poetry slam (as a member of the audience-let's not get ahead of ourselves!) and subsequently participating in one of Emma's creative writing workshops a couple of days later.

I can't deny that walking down to The Mill in Audlem the stress of only just making it there on time was exchanged for reticent anticipation and a lurking fear of that I may not be able to write in company, or in response to someone else's themes or starting points. Emma knew most of the people in the workshop, some of whom were devotees of her performance poetry and others whom she had inspired in previous workshops and who now attended regular groups formed from relationships developed in those workshops. Emma's positivity and ability to make encouraging comments on each of the results form the exercises she developed created a supportive environment in which the majority felt able to share their attempts without fear of ridicule or negative reaction. Over a 2 hour period I learnt more about my own ability than I had recognised before and was pleasantly surprised by my response.

The next few posts will hopefully now come more often as I have a little more confidence in sharing the intermittent episodes of writing and hopefully develop a consistent creative text and image related output.

Watch this space...occasionally!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Legacies. What legacies?

In the rush to keep the party going, to harness the positive spirit and national pride we are already witnessing the analysis so popular in the media and sport. Not wanting to be seen sitting in another room, and desperate to be part of the party, pundits and politicians are falling over themselves in a drunken stupor of knee-jerk promises they can neither keep or have thought through. But I can’t help feeling that somehow we may be too keen to stay in an euphoric bubble of self-congratulation and delusion.
There is no doubt that success by a few can provide inspiration for many, and I am first in the queue for celebrating the many and varied achievements of London 2012 and recognising the commitment and sacrifices made by many people to be part of an amazing and heart-warming spectacle.
There is also no doubt that confidence and self-esteem comes through success and achievement. But only through sport for all?
There is no doubt that physical exercise has great physical and mental health benefits. But, in reality, it is not available to all.
There is no doubt that in many instances the competitive spirit is an important aspect of striving for success. But only through sport?
Maybe we could take a broader view of the London 2012 legacy and in our analyses consider the attitude and commitment of the celebrated volunteers. This may be where the real party and legacy is at. It’s easy to make wrong assumptions but I am guessing that their involvement was;
Not competitive to the point of selfishness, self-destruction and sacrifice.
Not success at all personal, financial and relationship costs.
Not fear of failure, to point of manipulating the outcome.
Not tears at failing to be the best, and disregard for fellow competitors’ success.
But, joy at being involved in something much bigger than the self and a commitment to ensuring that others shared their enthusiasm.

And before I forget the point of all this (having just been to phone a complete stranger to let them know their cat has strayed far from home and is playing alongside a busy main road), I would like to reflect on the opening and closing ceremonies in which we celebrated British history and culture. We demonstrated to the world we are deeply rooted in our past. A past that sought to succeed at all costs in order to dominate our fellow humans, often with a blatant disregard for their welfare or opinions. In the spectacle that celebrated British culture we relied heavily on that past for inspiration, fulfilled many stereotypes to please the visitors, and focussed much less on the now and the future.
British creativity was at the heart of both ceremonies.
But are we to have 2 hours compulsory art, 2 hours compulsory music, 2 hours compulsory literature in which artists inspire so that we can be the best in these fields? Where is the guaranteed arts funding?
The arts are competitive.
The arts require sacrifice.
The arts really can be for everyone, whether as a participator or creator.
Who chooses? Who values?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Calm & Chaos in Cornwall

We arrived in Cornwall seven days ago, the van loaded with dogs, food and art materials and thanks to a generous artist friend we had no worries about where to stay as she was lending us her house while she went off to the far east.

THE PLAN; rest, eat and be inspired by the quintessentially creative Cornish landscape.

And so far I have achieved two out of three. On the third count of being inspired I am disappointed by my inability to get past the cliches. I have not tired of amazing views of the sea as we drop down into Watergate Bay or the quaint charm of old style fishing villages like Fowey and Mevagissey. I appreciate that their survival relies on tuning into the essential income from tourists and have enjoyed browsing the endless little windows of decorative nautical paraphernalia and local art before choosing a trendy cafe for tea or latte.
I have yet to justify the cost of fish and chips or a cream tea (things I was looking forward to) or buy any trinkets, preferring to eat packed lunches and beachcomb for souvenirs and spend our limited budget on fuel exploring.

But most of all I am still searching for the elusive emotional response....lets see what today brings!