When times are tough, it can be helpful to turn to art, and to look there for new ways of thinking, space, and comfort. Creative pursuits can give the sense of escapism, even when life feels very confined. Poetry and Place was a short poetry course led by award-winning poet Jamie Hale, exploring life in Lewisham and what we mean by home.
The project was for older and isolated people, especially those who had difficulty accessing events that are online (or in person) and was run entirely by post. It was funded by Lewisham Council.
Thinking about the idea of ‘home’ and how that relates to Lewisham past, present, and future, participants wrote poems that considered their space in various communities that make up our homes.
To mark the end of the course, with the writers’ consent, we are pleased to publish poems by three participants.
We are pleased to offer the course pack to download for free so you can take part in the exercises. You can find the course here: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/poetry-and-place-a-free-poetry-course-by-jamie-hale
Pat O’Dwyer: “Participating in Poetry and Place has been a very liberating experience.”
by Pat O’Dwyer
Would you care to meditate on a ramble with me?
Breathe fresh country air. Peacefully be
The wonders you might venture to greet.
A Lewisham path. Now the high street.
The cavalcade of summer. For perusal perchance?
Five trees masquerade. They sway and entrance.
Their leaves entwine. Forming one soulful face.
Great is the peace. In that lost place.
“That’s the Watcher!” Late locals wisely said.
Eyes shut. The Watcher watched. The landscape ahead.
A quaint country path. Glistening with trees.
Engulfed by fields of intoxicating peace.
You might find yourself. Admiring a cluster
Of enchanting trees. Enjoying fine muster.
You could be a Watcher. In a serene summer scene.
Meditating on a ramble. Where you might not have been.
Janet George: “I have been deeply challenged by partaking in this group – so much to learn and get to grips with! …Thanks for all the help from poetry and place for showing there’s always something to write about.”
Thought by Janet George
And what I want to write will stem from thought
Begin ideas I’ll not know I had
coming from home; followed all around
Desperate to get to grips with something good
Every aim from near to further off
Fraught with a tunnelled mind and much improved
Get to grips with something good, seizing the moment with what is truly right
Hoping to change my mind if that’s required
Instead of sticking only to one plan
Jumping about to see what may be there
Keeping it simple, not to get confused
Longing to find the truth or something new
Perhaps new information, maybe not,
Nothing that seems too difficult to think
Or that’s like going up the garden path
Planning some possibilities or not, pondering all
Queries till they further go
Right thinking holding nearer to the end
Same above all just writing to ever furl
Trite thinking patterns that just will not get
Understanding what will not work out
Very formative and coming to a head
When they will also want to speak the truth
Exaggeration damned and simplicity
You’re getting to the point and know it’s true
Zealous in interpretation of the facts
J Dudley: “I have been encouraged to write and enjoyed all the exercises. Your encouraging comments have spurred me on. Wish I could have been taught by teachers like you in the past.”
The River by J Dudley
The river flows gently by
Under the bridge so high
The sunlight on the water
Makes a ribbon sparkling with light
On the shore the ducks are resting
Under the shade of the trees
The sun is high in the sky
And the world slumbers in the heat
Slowly the sun begins its descent
And a gentle breeze blows by
The air is cooler now and evening is here
The birds sing their lullaby
The sunset with its beautiful hues
Will enthrall us with its loveliness
Home now we are content
We have spent a day by the river
Image: Lewisham High Street in the 1830s.
Published 15 February 2021