When the Well Runs Dry

It’s useful to look back to what I was writing about this day in another year. This post is particularly pertinent as I completed my brídeog, or Biddy doll, this day last year. On St. Brigid’s Day 2020 I will be leading a day retreat that will include creative writing, art AND we will craft a biddy doll, too. We are fast approaching not just the Chinese New Year, but the old Irish season of Imbolc, the time of earth’s renewal. It is time to wake up and grow things! What will you be growing over the next few months?

If you are in Ireland and want a day retreat to celebrate the multiplicity of St. Brigid’s wonderfulness, full details are here:   http://bit.ly/2NHkOMy

Sojourning Smith

I finished making my brídeog (Biddy Doll or St. Brigid’s doll) yesterday. The festival of Brigid (or Brigit or Brighid or Bride) runs from 31st January to 2nd February and coincides with Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival that heralds spring time. And the return of the goddess Brigid in her maiden form. And the Feast Day of St. Brigit, Abbess of Kildare, one of Ireland’s three national saints. What you need to know about me is that I celebrate the coming a springtime (even though the upcoming Wolf Moon is also known as the Snow or Ice Moon) with as much fervour as most people reserve for Christmas, Thanksgiving or Halloween. I prepare, decorate and bake. And if there is snow that is no bother. The point is that the days are getting much lighter. When you live in Ireland that is is something to celebrate. Winter is on the…

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Joy

Happy Halloween. A lucky dip into the archive re-visits a Halloween Party given at the local open prison for a group of mentally handicapped young adults. It was a stunningly joyful event, staged in the coffee shop that is open to the public, but also open to inmates. Joy can be found in the saddest places sometimes.

Sojourning Smith

I am minded today of the Arundrati Roy quote to seek joy in the saddestplaces. We need to be reminded of joy and a prison qualifies as a sad place, but my husband and I and about fifty souls witnessed it yesterday in our local low security prison. I feel it warrants memorialising in my poetry journal. As backstory for you to understand the context of how it came about, I need to explain that they run a coffee shop that is open to the public, as well as having a car wash and polytunnels where you can buy plants. This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland so there were a lot of visitors about the campus on a Sunday. The barristas in the coffee shop had been chatting to some of the regulars who work with a group of disabled young adults locally.  They cooked up the…

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Ghosting

This seems an appropriate themed poem pulled from the archive to Halloween

Sojourning Smith

For reasons I cannot quite fathom I have been feeling really tired this past week. Maybe the juggling of three and more projects is catching up with me. I have a list of things I need to attend to today, but I kept slapping the ‘Snooze’ on the alarm. I felt completely flat and out of inspiration for poetry practice. So I was lazily looking at my email, Facebook and finally Twitter. I generally just check in once daily there, but as soon as I opened it there was a post in the feed with a poetry prompt from @UrbanWordNYC…”write a poem addressing how death is the original form of ghosting.” So okay. I have my assignment for the Poetry Daily! Serendipity saves the day! I may have more personal experience of ghosts than social media ghosting, but I can work the metaphor…

Ghosting

Everyone leaves.
At some point I…

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Borders

While the deadline approaches at Halloween, we still don’t know exactly what the daily reality of what Brexit will be for those of us living on the EU frontier with Northern Ireland. This was written nearly a year ago. And still…we don’t exactly know…

Sojourning Smith

I am sometimes asked where all the ideas come from that inspire a new poem. Well, I range around. Today’s poem’s train of thought was provoked by a tweet. I am not a frequenter tweeter, but I do follow a few who are only on Twitter. And my current favourite is The Irish Border (@BorderIrish) who is wittily discoursing on the Brexit crisis about what to do with the problem of it. A lot hangs upon the Good Friday Treaty (aka the Belfast Treaty of 1998), which spelled out the end of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We live in border country. For instance, today we went to the launderette in Fermanagh, which is eight miles away. If we opted for ones in Leitrim, we would have had to travel around sixteen miles to do the dirty washing. We fill our prescriptions in Fermanagh…

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Drawer

In a chat with someone this week I characterised 2019 as the ‘Stuck or Chuck’ year. Many complain of feeling stuck and not achieving lift off. Meanwhile, others, including ourselves, have had a huge over haul of ‘stuff’. And while it has been hard to get things to completion on some tasks, or a real struggle to, on balance I would say this is the year of ‘chuck’. We have been through so many drawers and cupboards. Yes, there are some boxes remaining. Yes, the kitchen cupboards need their annual overhaul still.

How would you characterise 2019?

Sojourning Smith

No subject is too mundane to not be potentially transcendental. At least in the early hours of the day, when you really are a night owl. But it was still dark when poetry practice called.

Drawer

Everyone has got one.
That drawer full
of catchall, untamed, uncategorised
bits, bobby pins, bats, half-chewed rubber balls.

Once
I heard a psychiatrist on the radio recount
strategy with a a suicidal patient’s call
during another client’s fifty minutes.
She said just go an tidy a drawer until
She’d ring back in twenty.
He was calmer on the call back.
He had dispensed with death
as a persuasive option
when appraising the matched and folded array
of an ordered sock drawer.

We all have that drawer.
Sometimes we empty the contents
into a box
and slide it under the bed,
or to the back of a closet,
out into the shed,
or the far cobwebbed…

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Venus Dives Deep

Trawling through the archive it is interesting to see how the news cycle may have gone around and around, but that still certain reactions to past news can feel current. We had the new moon this weekend and this was my response to the 2018 Libra New Moon

Sojourning Smith

There was a fashion in creating ‘found poems’ or ‘cut-outs’ from sometime back in the mists of poetry time. Probably the late 60s when those who were there can’t remember. Today I decided to create a chorus of women’s voices, taking direct quotes from articles or newsletters I have read this morning. It is a New Moon today in Libra, ruled by that most feminine of goddesses, Venus. Sky and astrology watchers will have noted that Venus is currently retrograde, seemingly stationary, or moving backwards (rapidly towards the Dark Ages.) Today’s poetry practice, or journalling as I am coming to think of it, is playing with a different kind of cut and paste. Also, I want to celebrate women’s voices. We want to be heard.

I won’t keep my chorus Greek, masked and anonymous. The quotes are not in order, but feature the words of Barbara Kingsolver, Jude Lally,Chani Noble…

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What Remains

We are travelling to Mayo tomorrow for a funeral, which prompted me to seek out this poem from the archive. Irish funerals, especially those in rural districts, are highly ritualised. As the final rite they are very moving.

Sojourning Smith

In Ireland, death is highly ritualised. Wherever a person dies, almost invariably ‘the remains’ are brought home. There is the wake with neighbours, friends, and extended family visiting the deceased, who is usually laid out in the best room, all coming to say goodbye, praying the rosary, drinking tea, eating sandwiches. Then the house may go private to family only before ‘the removal.’ The remains are removed from home to the church the night before the funeral and a service is held to welcome the coffin.  There are forms of words and people who may  not have visited the funeral house line up to sympathise with the family, shake hands, say “I am sorry for your loss.” Then the funeral, the commital for burial or cremation. Over three days, the bereaved waver on that liminal place of letting go. Each sympathiser dins the reality home. You have lost a loved…

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