Thursday, 19 May 2016

Light and Dark

Light and Dark
(for Jesper)

You shone Northern light
into a darkened room,
Lifting flatness into
sweet and sharp relief.

Your rich mono tones
capturing cultural notes,
fixing detail and depth
with loving belief.

You etched memories
In silver to create
gold; ingrained soft mid-tones
to highlight life shared.

Your life half exposed
Sets the deepest shadow,
Leaves stories still untold,

Your print in our frame.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Colouring Sunday

Colouring Sunday.

“I’ll fetch Mac,” she says
“He doesn’t want to join in but he’ll watch.”
I ask if he’s new.
“He’s 99,” she says.

The door swings softly shut
And I’m left to bring colour and activity
into the impersonal institutional room.
We cover the bright splashes of garish
Pretend paint on plastic
with blue paper to protect
Delicate eyes and fragile minds.

She returns without Mac but with Constance
who stares at me with a half smile of recognition,
and sits with practised complicity
on the chair nearest me,
accepting my offer of colouring book and crayons.

Mac arrives.
A tall lath of smiling energy,
he shakes my hand and aims for the
Blue vinyl sofa, a safe distance from where
We work on the small table.

Constance is lost in the concentration
Of colouring petals first red then green.
Unable to resist the empty chair at the table,
Mac joins us. 
“I’m 99” he says in the way that commands
respect for the numeric milestone.
He gets it.
 “I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 4yrs old.
They’re no good for playing rough games.”
It sounds like an apology.
“I was Cumberland and Westmorland Swimming Champion.”
It’s not. It’s an explanation.

“I played tennis” shares Constance without looking up.
This is the first personal thing I know about her.
“It’s how I met my husband. He asked if he could play with me.
I had to laugh but he didn’t mean it in that way!”
She looks up. Her open mischevious grin completes a shared circle.
“We got married in Cannock at the big church.”

“I met my wife when we started cycling club the same night.
We cycled 100 miles on a Sunday.
We got married in 1939 in Kendal. Three days later war broke out.
I was conscripted. I wouldn’t have joined up.”

“As you know, I was a shorthand typist. I was in the WAAFs.
I wasn’t really in the war but I did climb on a tank once.”
I didn’t know. Constance puts down her crayons.
“I started at English Electric then a solicitors then BRC.”

We compliment Constance on her delicately shaded flowers
“I’m not much for flowers or gardening,” says Mac,
but a glimpse of an empty sunflower brightens
a shared memory of French fields.
“Yes, I’ve seen those. I’ve travelled all over.
I was an engineer stationed in Italy. We went to Naples, Rome all over.
Then I fixed anti-aircraft guns along the South Coast from Dover…
To I don’t remember where.”

“I loved being a shorthand typist.
I wrote a play. It didn’t go anywhere.
It was set on the South Coast.
It was a romance.
I like to explore people, you know;
Think about their character.”

Dawn Jutton, Feb 2016

Friday, 12 February 2016

Why do we name a hurricane?

I initially got involved in 'There is No Planet B' , Stafford Green Arts Festival 2016  to help organise the Art competition, believing I could support the hard-working volunteers to achieve their ambition to increase and improve the quality of submissions. As the week long event looms I realise that I have probably gained as much as I have given. I have been welcomed into a new network of people who are passionate about the issues that affect our very existence on the planet, I have been appreciated for my personal efforts and professional expertise, and I have 
ensured that Gainsborough [art]works can be a worthwhile 
partner in events planned and run by others.

If I'm honest however, I have been most excited by the opportunity to immerse a little more of myself into the poetry world. Since my 'Doxey Marshes' poem has been published in 'The Poetry of Staffordshire' by Offa's Press, I have a new-found confidence in putting my random efforts out there. I have attended a few more events recently and remain in admiration of the wit and skill of performance poets. Their ability to not only weave words that make you think, read them out in a rhythm that draws you in, but 
to have enough confidence to share them is also enviable. 

So, back to the Green Arts, and this time the poetry competition. As we have Bert Flitcroft- the current Staffordshire Poet Laureate- hosting our Life of Riley [word] Cafe at Gainsborough [art]works on Thursday 3rd March, I thought it would be appropriate to have written at least one poem myself on the Festival theme. As is often the case, I awoke with a phrase in my head, "why do we name a hurricane?" and an attempt at writing a poem that 
concentrates on internal rhymes and a rhythm that might suit 
performing it has therefore occupied me this morning. 
Off to send it to Carol Kirkwood now at the BBC!

Why do we name a Hurricane?

Why do we name a hurricane?
To comprehend it, befriend it,
and send it calmer on its way
‘cause we listened to its’ moans?

Why does Carol need to warn me
She’s left Henry and Imogen’s
On her way? She won’t stay.
Like all the rest, at best,
She’ll slap your face
Cause floods of tears,
pass through, forget you,
and leave you to pick up her mess,
and deny you should address
your fears for why she visited.

Like Abigail, Barney, Desmond
Frank and Eva before her,
she’ll be the stranger at your door
you try to ignore.
You won’t listen,
or see her eye glisten
when she tells you there’ll be more.
That you called them all
with your wanting to progress,
to fill the plains with concrete plans
instead of wilderness.

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!