Waiting for death is not polite conversation is it? Well…here I go again…
It can be one of the worst times of anyone’s life – waiting for death.
For the person about to pass, it may be a time of confusion or pain. Perhaps spent in a clinical setting with unfamiliar noises and faces. Too it could be a time of sharp clarity, where life becomes an unfinished story about to end.
For their friends and family, it can also be a time of confusion where thoughts and emotions conflict. Wanting the person to hang on for another hour, another day, brings with it the knowledge that those wishes prolong pain. Conversely, compassionately hoping for a speedy passing opens up feelings of guilt akin to considering murder.
We don’t talk about death……we don’t talk to the dying
Poetry for women has changed over the years. It was sugary-sweet and “all things nice”. Many women were gentle little home-makers. A bit giggly and prone to fainting fits. But somewhere between burning our bras and demanding the same respect we taught our daughters to expect, us ladies have found our voices!
I often speak through my poetry – I called my women’s poetry page Girls Talk.
These two words form the title of one of my poetry collections. The collection is about what women say to each other. Or, as likely, ABOUT each other! Poetry for women in other words.
But those two words – Girls Talk- can be interpreted in different ways.
If “Talk” is a verb, then – as anyone will testify – girls certainly do talk. They talk about the mundane matters of life – the weather, stains on laundry, how to bake that perfect cake, nappy rash. I am not saying that the mundane is solely the preserve of the female, nor that baking is insignificant. Simply that those are matters are examples which may enter the conversations of a group of women.
But underneath the inane chatter is often a mastermind at work.
You see, women are good at body language. They are really good at hearing the unsaid. They may not know what it is they have noticed, but they will sense that something is rippling beneath the surface. And they will worry at it like a terrier bitch until they’ve unravelled the secret.
Poetry has superpowers. It smashes down walls, builds bridges and burns itself into the memory with the fire of a branding iron. Poetry can leave grown men weeping and bring a smile to the mouths of the most sullen. Whether it grabs the attention with a steady, snappy, syncopated beat or leaves you wanting more as it quietly weaves a misty, meandering tangled web of emotion and longing, poetry speaks to you.
And we all need someone to speak to us.
Poetry can help communication with people with dementia
The spoken word can be a barrier for some sections of society, very young children or older people with communication failure.
In my time working with elderly and young people, I have found that rhyme and rhythm can open doors and allow interaction and connection. Music and song are widely recognised as keys to unlock communication; poetry can too.
The repetitive sounds of rhymes stimulate short term memory. A steady rhythmic beat soon attracts and holds the attention. Even if the ability to comprehend the language is not there, the rhyme and rhythm will bridge communication gaps.
And…as importantly…poems can be fun.
Nothing joins people together faster than a smile.
The poetic artist? Painting with words? You know the saying “A picture paints a thousand words.”.
It certainly does! After all, one can look at a picture and make up stories about the subject character. A painting can inspire as many ideas as the number of people who see it, for each will have their own interpretation.
Each picture is seen through the eyes of the beholder – and via their artistic opinions and preferences.
I enjoy taking photographs and then writing poems about them…a picture inspiring a thousand words. Well, almost that many.
But this being a poetry blog, let’s ask how many pictures can a poem paint?
I like to say that I paint with words. Each verse conjures up a mental image – particularly if the poem is like an abstract painting. But that mental image is open to so many different interpretations since there are no visual cues.
The mood of the verse, the colour of the poem and its surroundings, the strength of the words, the way they are spoken. It is different each time.
Every writer has a specific character in mind, a feeling, a message they wish to put across. But to make that too obvious is to leave the reader with no choice. In an abstract poem, the finer details are left to the person reading the poem; the poet invites them to join in with the writing. They subsequently become co-creators.
Recently I had the honour of visiting the church where the poet R.S.Thomas spent time preaching. Reading through his poetry whilst immersed in the body of the whitewashed stone building where he questioned his life’s work as a minister of God put me closer to his words and their meaning.
This little blog post is not a biography, but a tribute from the heart and pen of someone who thinks she understands.
The church of Saint Hywyn in Aberdaron is a deep grey sturdy building standing solidly on the cliff. Its exterior shouts of defiance in the face of many a winter storm. Built by a people who need nothing fancy to proclaim their faith, and who do not regard humility as weakness, the church was created to endure rather than impress.
It almost didn’t endure – it was in such a state of disrepair that a new church was built in Bodernaby. However, the people came back to St Hywyn’s and the restoration work was completed.
Internally, the space is bigger than the outside suggests. Once through the big door, it envelopes the spirit in a blanket of peace. The air moves freely – it gladly gives of itself to replenish the bodies of those who enter its space. It accepts the exhalation, soothing the troubles that are breathed into its midst. Then it hands us back the same experiences, wrapped in the gift paper of detachment. We can reopen our worries and see them through the eyes of God. What or whoever you deign God to be.
How insignificant so many of our petty concerns are.
As for the bigger ones, it helps just to feel that someone – or something – has listened.
Poetry is expressive language – painting with words. It is an art form where the picture is truly in the ears of the listener.
I had considered writing a blog for this site but what would a poetry blog be about? Initially it seemed impossible to write a diary for poems. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that a blog would give me the chance to explain some of my passions and share inspirations.
Sometimes the world just seems upside down – I write about that too!
Poetry can be inspired by the big events, but more likely it is an overheard word or a random sight which develops into a thought which simply MUST be written about poetically. A blog could unwrap the behind-the-scenes roots of a new poem. Or explain why I write about a particular subject.