I am feeling a little bit hung over from last night. It was Burn's night, which is a evening to celebrate the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns, a famous Scottish poet. It was also our church house group night and we have a tendency to celebrate all things Scottish. No one was up for the traditional meal of haggis, tatties and neeps, or for the formal speeches. We decided that we would choose favourite pieces of poetry - not necessarily Christian poetry - just anything that stirred our spirit.
I write poems, but confess that I read too few of them. Mindful that the way to improve my poetry writing is to read more, I had asked Joe one year to buy me a poetry book for Christmas. It was a collection of 20th Century poems, absolutely none of them familiar, and some of the poems quite heavy to wade through. On the end I resorted to reading a few of my own poems.
Joe shared a war poem, "In Memoraim" by Ewart Alan Mackintosh. Joe is really interested in World War 1. When we visited Belgium one year, he made appoint of visiting Ypres and the cemeteries there. It is very moving that in the midst of the horror of war, that men find themselves expressing their feelings in such beautiful poetry.
Our friend, Jeanni, shared a few poems written by Steve Turner, a rock biographer and journalist, who has been writing poetry since the 1970s. The book she brought with her had been given by an ex-boyfriend many years ago. The poems are very modern and open verse. They are very hard hitting and cut deep. Here's one I found earlier:-
You were one with the Father.
Then the Father turned his back on you.
You felt forsaken,
hanging there between heaven's thunder
and the dank spittle of earth.
For that moment you belonged nowhere.
You were love, cut off from love;
truth nailed down by lies.
You must have wanted to explode, to disintegrate,
to disappear into a void.
But that was forbidden.
And that was the test.
Your blood burst through your skin
and ran down like sweat.
Your sweat ran cold
and drained into your heart.
The universe caught hold of your pain.
The sun went blind with grief.
The earth shivered in shock.
History was torn in two.
I stood at a distance,
my collar turned up,
like a murderer witnessing
a wrongful arrest.
Jeanni's daughter, Ziz, writes poetry. She pours all of her emotions into her poetry and it is very raw stuff. I don't think I do raw emotion. Poetry expresses feelings, but I think I sanitise it.
Another friend, Jenny, brought with her poetry book published by her grandmother! It was a small red book - a collection of poems that spanned the early 20s and 30s. She confessed that although she had been given the book, it was more of a keepsake than something she had read. The poems that she picked out were wonderful. One of them was just a few lines long about a motor car - (she believed that they would never catch on!), another poem was about a pet dog. Jenny remembered the dog from when she was about six or seven. Thinking back over the small red poetry book - it really prompted me to do something about publishing my poems. Just imagine fifty years or so from now, my nieces and nephews digging out a book to find a poem that a family member had written!
It really was a great evening. The poems were interspersed with a lot of personal anecdotes and comments and the conversation was lively. We also managed to polish off two bottles of whisky between us all - not full bottles I hasten to add!
It seemed that most people were reluctant to bring the evening to a close, but seeing as I was giving people lifts home, and had a heavy school day the next day, I ended up chucking people out! As it was Jeanii stayed till half past twelve - her husband phoning to find out where she had got to!
It was a memorable night - learning so much about people's lives and just enjoying each other's company.