Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Evening Birdsong In Chester Library"





When introducing this celebrated local writer at the start of her Lit Fest event, Ravi Raizada hit the nail on its head. Ravi was right. If a " guru" means: " influential teacher" then this lady IS a guru. She creates light in folk who need their switch flicked on; in her teaching role, she makes creative writing irresistible...as she did for me, and for many folk who have become good friends. And we are very thankful for it.

Last night, Gladys Mary Coles, prize-winning poet , biographer, editor and lecturer, read from her new collection: " Song of the Butcher Bird"...( "His song is broken notes, discord, raucous, random, raw..") Her poems haunt; their images are vivid, their emotions are striking. As she herself said:" Words are like clay; we mould our own language"; in this collection, Gladys-Mary has sculpted memorable images which deserve to stay long in our minds..
The book contains her war poetry; it straddles the centuries, includes Romans, World War poetry, culminating in her poem about 2005 bombings in London. It also includes prose extracts (1916-19) written in the voice of a young soldier-poet; they're private, personal musings, which give a moving portrait of a time and place and people we need to remember...now more than ever: " Somme mud, the mud of No Man's Land, is malign, taking into itself the very pith of human life, nourished on blood and bones.." and to his friend Peter: " I saw your face, as pale as this frail flower: our lives had intersected in that hour.."
Our evening culminated in a writing workshop; not an easy brief given the largish audience but Gladys-Mary taught and enlightened and entertained in her own special style.
"Poetry" she said " is the most capacious of Arts. Through it, you can dedicate something you wish to preserve.."
So later, we carried home our "beginnings" of things, skeleton poems, lively thoughts. She provoked our thoughts in her own inimitable way. A lovely evening indeed.

8 Comments:

Blogger Suffolkmum said...

I love her description of poetry. And the lines quoted. I don't know her at all, so will toddle off and look her up. Loved the pictures of Coniston (though which is you?!)

11:53 am  
Blogger Jan said...

SuffolkMuM:
Yes, she's great.
I haven't been to her classes for ages but yesterday it was easy to remember WHY I enjoyed them so much...
AND in the Coniston snap, I'm on the left in pink Fatface socks.
My cousin Philippa saw it, then emailed saying I looked exactly like my mother...it's actually a lovely compliment, so thanks Philippa!!

2:05 pm  
Blogger Jon M said...

Sounds like a good evening! The prose extracts are very moving! All this and rambling too!

9:36 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

I'm so pleased that you took my remark as a compliment, Jan; I don't want you thinking you looked old, far from it! Ha, ha.
Happy Hallowe'en, by the way. We've got our pumpkin hollowed out and glowing in the window; there's lot of nasty spirits on Dartmoor!
X

10:05 pm  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

I am really jealous of all the great writing stuff going on around you...........

5:09 am  
Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

What vivid images Gladys Mary Coles creates with words. I love the line "words are like clay" - aren't they just! Brilliant!

8:45 am  
Anonymous marly said...

It would be nice to see the skeleton naked. Then clothed.

Chester seems so lively!

4:15 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Jonm:
Whose rambling?
Me?
Am I rambling?
Am I bovvvvered??

Philippa:
Wonderful image...pumpkins glinting across scarey Dartmoor..

LizF;
And I'm jealous of your walltowall sunshine..

Vanilla:
It's this, her marvellous language, ideas, that makes it special.

Marly:
Wonderful Marly comment!!
I'll throw a coat round the skeleton and perhaps get back to you one of these days!!

5:16 pm  

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