The Tamed Monster
On Wednesday I spent the morning with Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Luka Lesson and Omar Musa at Jupiter Artland. It was a brilliant morning. Marjorie led the writing group – about a dozen of us – around the works. We were focusing on the theme of journeys.
We wandered the beautiful grounds, absorbing the elements. Then we wrote what inspired us. We began with Charles Jencks’ Life Mounds. Having been a cancer patient and used Jencks’ wife’s creation, Maggie’s at the Western, I was emotionally beholden to this feature. It is architectural and elegant, poised and artificial: a marriage of nature and artifice.
Then we visited Alec Finlay’s A Variety of Cultures. I found this inspiring in its simplicity yet fecund in significance. We all exist together and yet are separate. Some of us soar, others stay more grounded. We grow as a community and we try to reach our potential as individuals, despite the vagaries of growing and enduring the niblings of deer, thunder claps which rent asunder trunks, causing us to fork and rearrange ourselves and the challenges of a dry earth.
Following on from this Luka and Omar performed their poetry in situ. They were both excellent: a real treat I hadn’t expected. We all wrote our own responses to the place and the people. Marjorie’s ode to her father in response to Luka’s Oddysey at Firmament was touching and honest. It’s amazing how words have the power to move us.
Below is the sum of my work from the morning. We shared our words over coffee and flapjack. I had a wonderful time in good company with delicious words. It was food to nourish the soul.
Firmament by Antony Gormley – a wonderful metal structure of a man on his knees
(In response to Luka’s poem – pictured – which likened Greek Myths to the events happening today in Syria, saying we won’t know the mythical proportions of the changes until it recedes in history, I wrote The Tamed Monster)
The Tamed Monster
He emerges, knee by weary knee,
Up the lapping froth of sea.
His former life hanging on rusty bones;
Alone, bleak – a fragmented shadow on the earth’s crust.
Where are they?
His wife and Aisha?
Have they, too, landed forehead-first –
Are they living under the rays of this same sun?
Forcing strong, skeletal, dark angled pain on a new shore?
The pain of crumpled arrival is personal – witnessed by few;
A fall from grace that makes no sense in comfortable lives.
Suck by Anish Kapoor – an imposing prison encasing a sink hole.
(In response to Omar’s poem which questioned the completeness of news reports, I wrote No Fairy Tale)
No Fairy Tale
Imprisoned in thought.
Our conscious minds unable to escape.
Sensing, seeing a possibility … another place beyond the bars:
A place encaging its own deep well of fear,
Where one may not be accepted or find oneself accepted.
Where falling could be endless.
The bars reach high, handcuffing freedom to the dirt.
Where is the truth behind the reportage?
No fairy-tale ending here,
Even if we wish very hard.
Please, Daddy, Please.
A Variety of Cultures by Alec Finlay – an orchard with ladders at each tree measuring the projected height of its canopy. There was no poem to respond to, simply the artwork itself.
My response to the orchard:
Look at Me
Jack climbed the ladder to another world,
His footsteps counted in treads.
The canopy of the world’s orchard receding below him.
Trees, fruits, all varieties –
Tall, small, squat –
Existing side-by-side, unable to reach Jack’s dizzy heights.
Making a show of fine blossoms
To outsmart, out-selfie, their neighbours.
Look at me. I exist.
Life Mounds by Charles Jencks
These artforms are elegant and manicured and sweeping statements of grandeur with reflected in the mirror of clear, clear water.
My response to this beautiful creation:
The Snip and Clip of Time
Tremoring, the clouded mirror melts.
Mosaic olive, charcoal, earthy brown.
Solid stones. Secure.
Sparkling Morse Code rips the surface,
Telling a tale I cannot comprehend,
And Adam’s Apple gully takes me to the edge.
Should I leap or play it safe?
Explore the ancient arch;
The reflected oval of infinity?
Geometric, man-made, created from nature,
In nature. Like me.
Born perfect in nature.
Moulded, formed, stretched by years of laughter and loss.
It takes some effort, some maintenance,
To chisel and polish this fragile, robust exterior.
A speckle of daisies, a dandelion baby defy the snip and clip of time:
The bed’s too wide and steep for daily perfection.
Jencks’ and Maggie’s take on life: build it from the bottom up.
Leave it as inheritance.
And so, the lonely, verdant velvet
Reaches up, across and down
Melding decisively and subtly,
Seeking the right way.
The best way to find a way.
To weigh our grievings in art.
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