Lyrical beauty, decomposing poets and butterflies

The New Mills Poetry Trail Open Mic Event – The Butterfly House at The Torrs, New Mills, by Nicola Hulme

As the setting sun filled the evening sky with a spectacular orange glow, I drove through the Derbyshire lanes to a small town nestled against the dramatic backdrop of the Peak District. I was on my way to celebrate the New Mills Poetry Trail with an evening of open mic poetry.

The residents of New Mills extended a warm welcome to the “outsiders” from Stockport’s Write Out Loud group; they even extended their arms to a poet from who hailed from the far reaches of Glossop, such a friendly bunch.

book butterfly

Held in the beautifully ornate Butterfly House at the Torrs Hotel, poets spilled out into neighbouring rooms such was the amazing turn out. It was heart-warming to see so many people of varying ages and backgrounds coming together to share in their passion, to hear and be heard. Remarkably, for such a large gathering, the atmosphere still remained intimate, reminiscent of stories told around the fireplace.
Published poets, new poets, experienced performers and those, like I, who still shake inwardly when approaching the mic, came together in a shared appreciation of the spoken word. Topics conveyed ranged from the pastoral pleasures of a slow canal walk, the heartaches of unrequited love, through to the surprise of eight family members surviving their first holiday together without anyone’s demise! For our delight we were told how Wordsworth’s decomposing body made fine fertiliser for the daffodils and allotment gardeners cried out for insect genocide, namely the extinction of the Cabbage White. The strength of Manchester was praised in a salute to the bees and conversations overheard at Costa were mulled over between drinks.

It was interesting to observe how we write as introverts, cocooned individually honing our craft, yet, on nights such as these, when we share our lines a new beauty emerges. Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time verbalising our humanity, vulnerabilities, passions and fears we create something new and more captivating together. We create a place of trust, empathy and support where smiles, nods and applause say “Yes, we understand, we have experienced the same and can relate to you.”

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IPhones, technology and social media may play a huge part in our daily life but it’s reassuring to know the poetry scene is very much alive and well, uniting communities. On this night the people of New Mills and the surrounding areas turned their backs on box set binging and X-Factor warbling, preferring to spend time with friends in a lyrical wonderland.

I’d like to say thank you to Randy Horton and his team of volunteers for organising the Poetry Trail and the open mic evening. Thanks also to the shopkeepers who supported the event by allowing poems to be displayed in their windows and of course to the people of New Mills for coming together and making it a night to remember. I hope we can do it all again next year.

Review is about New Mills Festival Poetry Trail Round Robin on 26 Sep 2018 (event)

Visit @writeoutloud for details of your local poetry groups.

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Secret Apples

Secret Apples

 

Deep crimson, swollen with juice

fruitfulness bends the bough.

Ripened by summer’s rays

skin shining in warm showers.

You hang in glorious maturity

tantalisingly out of reach

safe from the harvester

stirring desire more than any other.

Your serenity is a gift

suspended above mayhem

on the furious bend of a motorway slip road.apples

The Sycamore Prince

Slender branches silhouette

beneath his golden crown.

Sparks thrown out by the silver sun

ignite his flaming hues.

The autumnal prince towers above

ethereal mists, caught between earth and sky.

In a final flourish, passionate embers

of saffron and copper smoulder.

Only to cool as the light fades

and chill winds blow.

Each yellow fingered leaf, I mourn

as it falls and returns to it’s roots.

I will his warming glow to remain

to comfort my spirits during

November’s nip and winters depths.

Knowing my protests cannot halt

ruthless frosts from calling “time”.

November 2017

Georgic

Day 22 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.

My Response:

Nature

Each blade of grass cools and cushions naked summer feet.

Pure daisy petals inspire children to form chains for halos and crowns.

Scented blousy roses tempt lovers to give away unguarded hearts.

Sage and stately trees steadfastly raise their arms in worship,

whilst housing birds, squirrels and bugs.

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Their roots protecting foxes, badgers and rabbits

in bracken covered burrows and mossy dens.

The bluebells delicate and snowdrops hardy,

the clinging ivy, sheltering scurrying insects,

all withstand the extremes of each season, weathered yet thriving.

Opening and closing in response to the sun,

reaching skyward in praise.

None needs man’s intervention.

Man takes the fruits of their labour to feed his own.

Frustrated that nature is not abundant enough,

not convenient enough, not quick enough

to satisfy man’s demands, he violates the earth.

bee

Tearing up nature, he manipulates and reforms the land

into ordered geometrical design;

to contain more production in a single acre,

to harness and harvest every last ounce nature can provide.

Like a caged tiger pacing, sleeping, repeating,

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she churns out crops, silently awaiting freedom.

She survives captivity and molestation.

When man has gone, she will flourish once more,

using his decomposed body as nutrients to feed the soil.

The largest, most dominant predators fall,

swallowed up and fossilised by the ground they once trampled.

 

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The roses arise more fragrant.

The bees produce a sweeter honey.

 

 

Mistress Devon

There was no other choice. Prompted to write about a subject dear to my heart, one which I have personal experience of, could only have one reply. I write of my deep passion for a place that brings me joy year after year and has never disappointed.

Day 5 of Napowrimo.

The prompt: In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

My response:

Devon Mistress

I recall you clearly

though a year has passed between us.

I know every inch intimately;  

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rough bark around your majestic oak,

wind rustling restless leaves,

midday sun filtering through your canopy

against a backdrop of vast sapphire blue.  

 

Warm salty breeze sweeping

across my face like sweet caresses,

its whispers cooling my skin

in the heat of the afternoon.

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For one precious week each year

I leave the smothering grey dust

and drive through the night,

snaking south until buildings fall away.

Dawn’s blush lights Somerset skies.

Tractors stand in half ploughed fields.

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Deer float on morning mists,

leaping across open land,

tasting freedom before man awakes.

With a hopeful and impatient heart

I enter Devon’s country roads,

knowing my soul’s satisfaction

is almost within my reach.

Turning into the hedgerow’d lane

climbing hills, plunging deep into valleys,

rising one last time before

reaching my heavenly destination.

Exquisite joy. Exhalation.

Keys removed from ignition.

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Baggage left on soft grass.

Troubles and cares dismissed.

Weight lifted from crowded mind.

Turmoil leaves. Peace enters,

with each inhalation

of fresh, clear air.

Tired eyes rest upon your beauty

in complete admiration.

300 miles and one year later,

I am finally home.

Summer Daze

Day 4 of Napowrimo was much more difficult with the following prompt, teasing me for much of the day. I’m not sure how successful it is, but a poem was asked for and a poem provided. You can be the judge, as always.

Prompt: Today I’d like you to take some inspiration from Elgar and write a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. The poem should function as a sort of riddle, but not necessarily a riddle of the “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” variety. You could choose a word, for example, “yellow,” and make everything in the poem something yellow, but never actually allude to their color.

My response:

Summer Daze

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The cider press sits patiently

Awaiting fresh faced lovers

To fill the apple store

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So enchanted are they

Held in each other’s eyes

They linger longer

In heavy laden orchard

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Hang back amongst hedgerows

Where envious crickets chirrup

In time with beating hearts

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Dreaming by the mill pond

As frogs on lily pads rest

Before plunging deep

Into algae’d depths

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Amble slowly through pastures

The cattle lift their heads

To nod approval

Before returning

To their gentle graze