I’m getting into poetry

I started writing this whilst on holiday in Wales. It’s a chance to rest, relax and go for lunch time pints as well as a bit of walking, weather permitting. I am taking the opportunity of renewing my interest in poetry. In the past I’ve written ‘poems’ and blank verse when on retreat or on a quiet day but now I want to be able to use that creative outlet as part of my normal spiritual and creative practice. So I have a notebook in which I will scribble and make notes – and hopefully come up with something worth sharing. You, my dear readers, will be the judge of that.

On Sunday, Terry and I were in a pub called The Sloop Inn at Porthgain. We had been to St David’s Cathedral for communion in the morning, enjoyed a cooked breakfast on our return to base and were now having a pint. I wrote the following and the next day did a ‘best’ copy with some decoration:

Epiphany Pint

I was reading on the internet about the various forms that poems take and realised that mine didn’t follow a ‘proper’ pattern. So I played with a few alternatives. My first draft started with:
Sitting in the Sloop,
on a Sunday afternoon,
but I thought that a little inappropriate! In the end I settled for the pattern of alternating lines of 5 and 2 syllables (except for Light of the World) shown above. I played with other versions following the set rules – below – but wasn’t as satisfied with them. So I suppose the moral of the tale is stick to what you want to say and sit light to the rules! However having some simple forms of poems does make it easy to get into writing them.

Tanka version (5 lines of 5,7,5,7,7 syllables)

Sitting in The Sloop
on a Sunday afternoon
a pint of Coors Light
Cheers to Epiphany feast
Jesus the Light of the world.

Cinquain version (5 lines with 1,2,3,4,1 word)

Coors Light
in The Sloop
on Epiphany Sunday afternoon

I have started to re-read Mark Oakley’s book The Splash of Words. https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=splash+of+words&ref=nb_sb_noss

I was impressed with his introduction and the phrase ‘poetry is the native language of faith’. He argues, very well, that when entering a church [service] we should listen to the poetic story telling of truth rather than ‘here is the news’ (page xxv). I also enjoyed a poem written by Edwin Muir about a form of Presbyterianism he had been raised on (page xxiv)

The Word made flesh here is made word again
A word made word in flourish and arrogant crook.
See there King Calvin with his iron pen,
And God three angry letters in a book,
And there the logical hook
On which the Mystery is impaled and bent
Into an ideological argument.

My thoughts continued along the lines of Jesus, the Word and what it means to be more ‘poetic’ in our religious life. I wrote the following:

The WORD became flesh
and dwelt among us
in the babe in Bethlehem.
The words of The Word
would baffle and confuse
those whose
religion had become static.

The Word became flesh
and dwells among us
by the Holy Spirit in hearts.
The words of The Word
come alive and resound
in those whose
religion has become poetic.

On one morning (I think it might have been Thursday) I lay awake from about 4.45am until 7.30ish with the opening words from John 1 rattling through my mind. I was thinking about the main words in that passage and how I might arrange them on the page. Most annoying! So over the next couple of days I played with the words and eventually, after getting home on the Saturday I did the initial wording on this not-very-artistic piece in my prayer/art journal. The decoration and additional colours were added on Sunday afternoon after I had preached. I hesitate to publish this but do so to encourage you to have a go yourself. The process is far more important than the artistic/aesthetic quality of the work. (I really hope that Facebook doesn’t show this as the image for the post but I don’t know how to control it).

playing with the words of John 1

More of this in my next post which will be what I took home from the holiday for the sermon. I thought it better to split them into 2 posts.

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