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.