Last year for Lent Joe and I successfully gave up chocolate. Long car journeys where a Bounty bar had been a strong feature, Bassett’s Jelly Babies had taken centre stage. With the phrase “Jelly me!” Joe would slip one jelly baby into an outstretched palm when the road was straight or when queue of cars and lorries was particularly slow. “Uber jelly me!” was for two jelly babies. Ah…we thrive on these lovely little routines of ours. This year the Lent intention was to use the car on only essential journeys. The definition of “essential” changed with the weather conditions.
I went to the bookshop to have a look at the book – “The Heart’s Time” by Janet Morley. Packed with poetry and reflective commentaries for each day of Lent and Easter it had caught my interest. The shop didn’t have the book. It was assumed that I wanted it to be ordered and a couple of days later I was informed “my book” had arrived. I have a thrifty gene somewhere in my string of chromosomes. It takes a lot for me to open the purse and splash out on something but I splashed anyway. I am a sucker for poetry.
Because I hadn’t had the chance to ready any blurb about the book I had assumed that it was Janet’s poetry and he commentary about when, where and why it was written. It was a collection taken from many different poets.
I read the final poem today – “And that will be heaven” by Evangeline Paterson. I have checked the rest of the pages to see if there are any more but there is just a long list of poets.
Things that come to mind on finishing the book:-
- I finished the book! I am a great starter of things – knitting projects, crocheting projects, gardening projects and reading books. I am not always a great finisher. It wasn’t a hardship to keep reading day by day. I love poetry. That’s not to say that I loved every poem in the book.
- I now know more poets that I used to. There have been times, since my book was published last year, when I think about teaching a poetry or creative writing class. What has always stopped me has been my general ignorance of the subject. I am a teacher and I am a writer and you would think it was a no-brainer – and it probably is – but the teacher in me and the poet in me are not entirely convinced. Steps of faith don’t require me to be entirely convinced! I still like Roger MCGough. I’ve discovered I like R S Thomas. Carol Ann Duffy remains a mystery to me.
- I know less about poetry in general than I used to. A review of my poetry led to a comment, made to me personally, that my poetry was simple and was not meaty enough for serious debate. Basically, had Janet Morley known that I even existed, my poetry wouldn’t have made it into her book. T didn’t react or take offence as I had never thought they would be debated and discussed. Having read the poems Janet selected – I see what the reviewer meant. I am not sure that I want someone to have to wade through metaphors and similes, to have to speculate on what I wanted to say. But I confess that I am starting to stretch myself on that score. Reading through the lists of poets at the back of the book I think I might have been thrilled if my name had been there.
- I know more about the structure of poetry than I used to. Janet slings around the technical terms like the pro she is. I came to the book with a smattering of poetic jargon. I learned from Stephen Fry how to form iambic pentameters. I had a vague notion of sonnets and haiku. Now I know much more.
- I should have followed through with the task at the end of each meditation. Writers are always looking for things to write about and I didn’t really write that much. Sometimes the act of writing something down makes it more real and obliges you to do something else – to change something or demonstrate what you have learned in what you do. I know myself well enough to know how challenging I find that.
- I underlined things. I felt that some kind of acknowledgement that I had the read the chapters was required. I felt that I was breaking some unwritten law but equally compelled that it was necessary. I guess that it makes the book really and truly mine
- The book was just the right thing for me to be reading through Lent and Easter. It was like peering through windows at what other people were thinking and experiencing about Easter.
I feel like I have been introduced to a roomful of new friends! We shall try hard to keep in regular touch.