Thank goodness it’s National Poetry Day today. My computer ‘troubles’, which have led to major upheavals in the past few days, are now over thanks to the heroic and willing cadre of two sons and husband, far better at gadgety things than I am. Collectively they managed to rescue my P Drive, comprising all my pictures, my e-mail, and most importantly, everything related to the day job. I can’t pretend to have been my calmer self during the process, but my spirits were empowered by Walter D Wintle’s poem ‘Thinking’, which echoes my own mantra when faced by life’s little obstructions, namely: “I will win.”
I only came across 'Thinking' this summer. It was one of the ‘Winning Words’ series on BBC Radio 4, airing around the time of the London Olympics. It’s from Walter Sieghart’s anthology of the same name, which I promptly put on my birthday list and was privileged to receive. I treasure my poetry books, many of them going back into childhood and reflecting the seasons, like “Come little leaves” by American poet George Cooper. Cooper’s lifespan must have crossed over with another of my favourites, Robert Louis Stevenson. His poem ‘Autumn Fires’ from ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ is highly evocative of this season of ‘..mists and mellow fruitfulness,’ as Shakespeare put it.
There’s a fascinating reproduction of the 1895 edition of ‘AChild’s Garden of Verses’ online, which will interest to anyone with a liking for or social history. It’s the vibrant colours in ‘Autumn Fires’ that tempt me first into the garden and then back to the loom with a head full of ideas. Matching nature’s glory isn’t easy but I pay my woolly homage each autumn, working with whatever materials I can find. Mohair (from Angora goats) isn’t easy to weave with but it’s worth the perseverance. It gets all stuck together in the warp on a rigid heddle loom but with careful handling you can get around it. And it has its own powerful effect on texture, changing the whole feel of the piece, making it misty, soft and desirable. Fibre fashions come and go, but for me weaving is all about texture, and, at this time of year, creating a fusion of colour worthy of the average autumn leaf.
I doubt if there have been many poems about natural fibres, goats or sheep for that matter being recited during National Poetry Day, but if anyone has any to share, about spinning, weaving or any other fibre crafts, you’re welcome to let us all know. I saw some good Haiku coming through during the day via Telegraph Books’ poetry tweets, and what’s more, to reinforce the stereotype of the British being eccentric, I gather today saw the investiture of the first Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, working with the Canals & River Trust. Perhaps Jo will create some poetry around sheep in misty fields on summer mornings as life beside the canal towpath starts to awaken – maybe we ought to ask if such‘requests’ are allowed?
I see the Poetry Society now has a ‘PoetryPrescription’ critical review service, to encourage better poetry writing. But poetry, like art and textiles, is highly subjective, and besides which I for one am far too introverted to send in any of my scribblings for comment! Poets are brave people, distilling the essence of their person and experiences into a few lines and putting it out there for everyone to see. Maybe we should all take a metaphorical leaf out of their collective book and indulge in a little more self-expression in our constrained modern lives. Here’s wishing you a powerfully liberating week with your creative exploits - and one that’s completely techno-trouble-free.