Today is Samhain, commonly known as Halloween, the Pagan new year. Today, Pagans all around the world are celebrating the last of the harvests, the harvest of Souls, and preparing for the Long Dark, the time of winter, where we venture into our interiors and seek out our personal bogeymen to exorcise. We look around at what we have achieved over the active Spring and Summer months, harvest what we cherish, and take it with us. And we celebrate those who have Gone Ahead to the otherside.
I've spent the day in contemplation today, walking and meditating, deciding what I want to take with me into the Long Dark, considering what plans I could make for the next three months (I tend to work up to Christmas at this point, because its such a huge, stressful event that I can't see past it). And I have been thinking about what I have achieved this year, and what I have lost.
Of course, tonight is especially poignant, as I will be mourning the passing of my step-father, and celebrating the gifts he gave me. His wisdom, his quiet strength, his wicked sense of humour, all of which I miss terribly. But I feel like I have sat shiva for him long enough. The grief will go on, but its time for me to end the mourning. He wouldn't want excessive wallowing. Its time to open myself up to the future now.
So I feel optimistic. I don't know what my plans will be for the coming months yet - they normally come to me in the days following the Festival - but I feel that I am coming back to myself now, and that I am over the worst. Lets hope the Long Dark isn't as bad as it sounds this year...
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
|IanMcMillan, photo from Norwich Arts Centre website.|
Last night I went to see Ian McMillan doing a recording of The Verb at Norwich Arts Centre with my pal Heidi Williamson, that talented poet. I'm not much one for poetry, I have to admit. I find a lot of it hugely pretentious. Studying Wordsworth for my degree probably didn't help. But I love Ian McMillan because of his voice and his dry humour - his work is full of wit, he makes the ordinary beautiful without sounding poncy and I adore that, which is why I wanted to go. (He also has the most incredible voice and Barnsley accent - I could listen to him read the Phone Book for the rest of my life and be happy!)
At the beginning of the evening, I sat there listening to a discussion about performance poetry, thinking 'why the f**k am I here, this is awful'. I could hardly follow what was being said, it seemed so ridiculous to me. And then the guests started reading their work.
I had forgotten language could be so amazing, such a dazzling tapestry of image. 'Grapefruits and trombones'. Breathtaking.
So I'm not going to slag off poets anymore. I'm going to learn from them. Look at the way I use language in my work. Listen to words, fit them together in as many unexpected combinations as I can, expand my vocabulary. And maybe I'll got to a few more poetry readings. I know, its daring, but it might just work....
If you want to listen to the edition of The Verb which we witnessed, and hear me whooping in the background, its on BBC Radio 3 on Friday night, 14th October 2011, at 10pm. You could probably also get it on BBC iPlayer.