It was a chilly Easter Saturday morning as I and the Husband headed off to Pontypool railway station in order to make the trip to Colwyn Bay. The reason for this, the launch of ‘Out of Sight’, an anthology of work produced by Disability Arts Cymru, in which one of my poems was to feature.
Due to the kindness of an Accessibility Officer at Arriva Trains, travel passes had been secured for us and for a fellow writer Des (pictured below) and his son Will, also a veteran of poetry events. After some initial confusion in which the Husband attempted to evict our new friends from their seats, we settled down and the three hour journey passed speedily and socially.
Colwyn Bay greeted us with a cold grey sea and biting wind, so the two of us headed off to a warm cafe whilst our travelling companions braved the sea front. We met again later at the cultural centre where we were welcomed warmly by Denni Turp, the organiser of the event, who presented me with a beautifully bound copy of the anthology. We then found some seats amongst the gathered crowd of guests, in which the each poet was recognisable by the shiny new book clasped in their hands.
After a welcome and introduction by Denni and Mark Isherwooed AM, the poets took to the floor. There followed a diverse range of words, ranging from personal accounts of depression and autism, via reflections upon caring for someone with dementia and culminating with some hard hitting commentary about the effects of funding cuts upon people with mental illness. After a brief break for refreshments and networking, an open invitation was issued for people to read more of their work, which led to the sharing of yet more interesting and entertaining poems.
The event came to a close, and our party of four headed back to the station via the chip shop opposite the centre (highly recommended). Once on board our carriage, the movement of the train and the effect of our full bellies lulled us into semi-consciousness and we were soon home. All in all, a good day.
Above left: The anthology “Out of Sight”. DAC is arranging for at least one copy to be available in each library in Wales.
Above right: Our travelling companion Des Mannay entertains with his poetry.
As some of you will know, I have been working on a collaborative poem with members of a local church (see previous post for details). Well, here is the latest news of that endeavour.
A few weeks ago, I turned up at the door of Gaer Baptist Church in Newport. With me were a pair of very talented film-makers (so far so sensible) plus a selection of space hoppers (not quite so sensible). After having inflated the oversized orange orbs, and being interviewed by the film-makers, I was joined by various members of the congregation. What followed was an exercise in persuasion. These good Christian folk were happy to tell me of their hopes and ambitions. The part where they were asked to sit on space-hoppers whilst doing so took a little more effort on my part. As for being willing to appear on film, well…
Please click the link below to find out how persuasive I am actually capable of being. Go on, you know you want to 😉
***N.B. The results of my insistent questioning of these good people – at this and other times – have now been entered into the curious mechanism that is my brain. Consequently, I am in the process of creating the poem about which all of this slightly crazed endeavour is centred. Please keep watching for updates!***
I have been teasing people over on my Facebook page for the past few weeks, making references to spacehoppers, poetry and hope. The time has finally come to reveal why…
The good people of Gwyl Coda – a Wales-based arts festival which aims to inspire faith and action – have awarded me a grant. In return for their investment, they get a poem about hope featuring spacehoppers.
They get a bit more than this, actually.
Members of the church I attend in Newport, S Wales also get to benefit, as will communities further afield. Well, that is the plan anyway.
Phase one is already underway. I have started to gather responses to a few questions on the subject of hope. Church members are being asked what their hopes are personally, for the church/community and also on a wider scale. I am also seeking to find out from each person what they can do to help make these hopes a reality. Simple really 🙂
Once I have gathered all the replies, I intend to set to work and poemify them (what do you mean that’s not a word?) The resultant poem will then be performed and filmed for distribution far and wide – or around and about a bit at least. The performers of the poem will be the very people who were invited to answer the initial questions. As for the spacehoppers, they are just a bit of fun really. Plus any excuse for a play on words, as well as playing on retro toys!
As for anyone who may be disappointed to learn that this hopportunity is unavailable to them at present, do not dismay. Phase two will involve encouraging more people to hop on board.
There may even be a competition. With prizes. Big, round hopping prizes…
After having spoken at the ‘Call to Mind’ group in St Mary’s, Swansea a couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking. The result can be found by following this link to their weblog:
Apologies to anyone coming here as a result of reading the blog post linked above. To you, this will be the online equivalent of being given a piece of paper with the words ‘Please turn over’ written on both sides. Feel free to take a look around my blog whilst you are here, it may be marginally more fun than clicking back and forth between posts!
Earlier this year, I was asked to give an interview at a seminar being held in Cardiff regarding the subject of mental illness and Christianity. After having answered a number of questions about my own experiences, I then read a piece of autobiographical writing about time spent in psychiatric hospital.
Rather than re-hash that particular approach, however, I shall use this post to direct you to another piece of writing I have been working on recently. It is hosted on the Call to Mind weblog. This is the online presence of a support group based in St Mary’s Church, Swansea, which explores mental illness issues from a Christian point of view. Feel free to go and take a look by following this link: http://www.calltomindsite.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/depression-and-faith/
If you are in the Swansea area this coming Thursday, 13th July, you would be welcome to drop by St Mary’s Church at 2pm to hear more. If that is insufficient incentive alone, I have even promised to supply cake…
Back last year, I was asked to perform some of my poems at a local fundraising concert in aid of Parkinson’s UK. The friend who asked me is a fine gent who himself suffers from the disease, so I was keen to agree.
Consequently, come 4th November, I found myself sharing the bill with a number of excellent musicians and a talented fellow poet. The evening was well attended, and raised a good amount of money for the charity.
I am unable to share any of the music from the concert, but I can give you a taste of the evening in the form of one of the poems I read. It is a bit of nonsense which will make most sense to people who have an understanding of the Welsh language. Enjoy!
A bit o’ ffun
Come back with me to my cwm bach,
Come, bach, with me to my cwm.
Cwtch away here in my cwm, bach.
Come cwtch with me in my cwm.
Now, in true language-lesson style (from my faded memory of school in the 1980s), here is a list of vocab:
Bach: Small (also a term of affection)
Cwtch (away): Hide (away)
Cwtch: Hug, cuddle (but with much greater depth of meaning)
Ffun: made up word (I just decided to move the letter ‘f’ from ‘of’ and add it to the front of the word ‘fun’ in order to make pseudo-Welsh word. Apologies to all Welsh speakers out there!)
A while ago, I wrote a poem which was allegedly about Victorian Swansea. Having been successfully shoe-horned into an exhibition on that theme, it was recently returned to me. I’ll let you see for yourself why the link is quite so tenuous. Hope you enjoy it anyway.
Slimy creatures start climbing as storms brew,
As Doc Merryweather well knew,
So he built a fine leech barometer
Which was then used to monitor
The onset of approaching storms.
His 'jury of philosophical councillors',
Most unusual of weather announ-cilors,
Would climb as the atmosphere changed
Causing small bells to ring as arranged,
Early forecasters in primal forms.
Had in Swansea this means been adopted
New leeches would needs be co-opted
As they'd tire from such frequent prediction
Of the near-constant rainfall affliction
Of this city.
This however did not come to pass
For the far less intriguing Storm Glass
Was the choice of the Government-types
So no leeches would crawl up their pipes,
More's the pity.
To learn more about this fascinating invention, and perhaps get some idea what I’m going on about, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempest_prognosticator