I have been out most days during lockdown on short socially distanced walks around my local area. When the restrictions began, we were approaching the Spring Equinox. The flowers came in a blaze of colour and beauty, before we moved into a summer of both heat wave and storm. Images of life and death have certainly seemed close together in 2020 as we have been forced to live more in the present, to come to terms with our human vulnerability and to consider what is really important to us and what is not. Now the harvest has been gathered in, I sense a change in the air and in the earth beneath my feet. I am on my way towards completing a book though it is taking longer than I first envisaged. I have also written poems and taken photos, as well as collecting haw berries from an abundant local tree to make hawthorn brandy (recipes on the internet). A submission I made in June, has seen two of my poems - Wings of Light and Summer Trilogy published in the September issue of a monthly Druid journal called TOUCHSTONE.
Wings of Light
The blue grey lull of twilight sea
The shore lamps twinkle into night
Behind a thin mist curtain like a veil
I breathe in stars and fly on wings of light.
Iona Jenkins, 2020
Also published in Touchstone 2020
The white flower trumpets
Are green leaf creeping
Over the old churchyard
Grave stones, silent bones
Life and death close mingle
In sunlight bright gilding
The sky is blue above the bay
Nectar collecting the bees buzzing
In lush lavender purple tumbling
Summer scented on grey stone walls
The earth is alive and honey making
Summer leaves in dusty green
And fruit trees heavy laden
The cornfields ripened gold
All ready for the harvesting
The earth is a generous mother.
Iona Jenkins, 2020
Also published in Touchstone 2020
I would like to sum up my own intention for writing at this time in three words
INSPIRE - HEAL - BLESS
It is all an ageing locked down poet can do in an attempt to offer a little comfort and distraction during this massive global crisis affecting us all. Standing on the balcony outside my flat, I received these words and images from a gentle and beautiful springtime twilight. May they open a door into your creative imagination and may you find some peace there, during these very difficult shadow times. Do all you can to keep yourselves and others safe.
Sometimes a rainbow appears at the end of a storm.
At the end of September, I really found my voice, when I attended a Bardic workshop in Glastonbury. I got to write a poem as part of a group presentation for an Autumn celebration. It went down very well and I was very surprised to hear the power and vitality in my voice, when speaking my own words. My effort appeared to have a positive effect on several people and I in turn was moved by the efforts of others. After the workshop, the facilitators both told me how good it was to hear my voice. When poetry is spoken by the person who wrote it, it becomes energised and the effect can be dynamic - the spoken word might inspire, influence, facilitate change or sometimes even heal according to the intent and abilities of the writer. Of course, the Bards of old practised an oral tradition of poetry and story telling. That is how the legends were passed on. Since the workshop, one of my poems has been published in the monthly newsletter of a Druid organisation with an international membership.
Finding my voice with a live audience was certainly a confidence booster and I don’t think I will ever be nervous about speaking my poetry again. Who knows, I might even develop an ability to tell live stories as well...
I am working on a book that maps out my own journey into the creative heart. I hope that it may inspire others when it is finished. This first few lines of a poem and the two paragraphs following it are a short extract from a chapter I wrote around the time of Halloween.
Raven - Iona Jenkins
A solitary black raven
Balancing on a sycamore
Swaying shadow silhouette
On a swirling backdrop
Of autumnal misting sky
And water grey sea wash...
We exist in two worlds. First there is the outer world of form with its conscious mind, knowledge intellect and logic. Then, there is the inner world of the unconscious mind with its dreams, imagination and intuition. Within and without, both worlds are alive with wondrous things to fill my poems and stories. The unconscious sometimes requires a guide and on the time of All Souls or Halloween, I chose to fly with the raven on an inner world quest for inspiration.
I acknowledge the raven as a symbol, a bird of the mysteries - wise and protective. The creature has that look about her, as though she could glide through the night into forgotten corner of the unconscious where creative treasures lay hidden. Black as midnight, she is a sleek Amazon amongst birds with her impressive jagged wingspan, sparkling eye and a solid curved beak that gives her such an ancient appearance. Her voice is raucous, strident like a wake up call as she struts bossily across the grass or sails on sea winds, fearless and sure of herself in all weathers
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