This is Roy’s final workshop, we are delighted with the amazing coverage in these workshops. We are sure you will all agree he has worked extremely hard on this programme. As with all our Guest Writers, time is given for free.
It would be great to see some feedback and response in the comments below, maybe you could even thank Roy by buying his book… the gift would be yours, as ‘Beginning with your last breath’ is an amazing debut collection.
This was an event I performed at ‘Diverse Dancers’ Photographic Exhibition by Najma Hush. This was the first time I watched Roy perform. I did not meet him properly until later in the year (2014) at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites. I knew a lot about his poetry and work as he was Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2010-11.
I had no idea back then that a few years later he would be producing an amazing collection of workshop exercises exclusively for INKSPILL. I am eternally grateful to you Roy and your generous spirit.
– Nina Lewis
In the previous part of this workshop we looked at ‘Missing You’, writing about what is left behind, what we possess after our loved ones have passed away.
We start this next part as a link, so look back over what you wrote earlier and dive in for the final write with Roy.
In this workshop Roy re-visits the poetry of Hannah Lowe and W.H Auden.
We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.
The list poem comes to mind, where we just list what we have before us but you’re a poet, you have to take the naming of this list to another place, let’s look at the third passage from Six Day in March by Hannah Lowe.
So this is what I’m left with.
A stained brown cufflink box lined
with stained red silk,
two black elastic loops, one snapped and frayed.
I hold it to my nose, search out
the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair, his clothes,
the old yellow cardigan. What’s a life made of?
Fifteen pounds in a post office account,
a notebook scrawled in horses’ form,
one photograph of three Jamaican aunts
in white lace dresses, straight-backed
with clasped hands under a palm tree?
Is there a sense of disappointment with that opening line or is it the sense of weightlessness of life the lack of worth maybe? And so she seeks for something tangible, search out the sweat-and-tobacco smell of his hair… the desperation of loss is felt her, the need to hold on to you every piece of her father’s DNA.
We all know Auden’s stop all the clocks, but how about this lover’s lament
As I Walked Out One Evening
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the station sing in the street
And then this beautiful gem…
‘the glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
And then after all that declaration of love, the reality of life that life goes on
It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
Think of a moment, an everyday situation, walking past lovers by the river, clock chiming in the background. A supermarket aisle, with the Tannoy going off; sitting in a café with the sound of the vending machines; football terraces and a goal being scored; in the stalls of an operatic piece and the conductor taps the stand; think of something of the presence that shows the living, the continuation of life, whilst we remember our loved ones.