Polly

Writings and Witterings


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Voices of 1919

Can’t wait to go along to this event and hear the poems performed by actors 😄

Poet Laureate

mike alma voicesCelebrate National Poetry Day in Worcestershire.

Voices of 1919

Autumn in Malvern Festival 

Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Malvern, WR14 3AG

Tickets £8.00 available from Malvern Theatres 

The Box Office, Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern WR14 3HB – telephone 01684 892 277

http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/whats-on/voices-of-1919/

VOICES OF 1919
 
The Great War is over. In the Spring of 1919 the village of Oakby awaits the return of survivors. Each household has its own story. Through the words of 20 contemporary poets, we hear the voices of villagers struggling to recall their past, to understand the present and to imagine the future.

The Armistice, signed on 11th November 1918, signalled the end of The Great War, but most involved in the fighting would not be returning for months.

This poetry is not about the trenches and battles but is, in the main, the thoughts of those who didn’t go to war –…

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Writing Opportunity for You!

Looks like a brilliant opportunity – checking my diary!

Poet Laureate

Join this poetry project for OCTOBER.

Hanbury_Hall_011

© Glen Bowman

Do you enjoy using visual stimuli as a starting point or the whole point? Ekphrastic poetry/ writing may be your thing. 

This year I am organising a team of poets to join a project at Hanbury Hall. Annually the Droitwich Arts Network (DAN) work with the team at Hanbury Hall (National Trust) to offer local artists a space to exhibit and sell work in the Long Gallery.

In the past, poets have been invited to choose art to create a poem from. ‘Fragile Houses’ included two ekphrastic poems from this event in 2014. Other years have seen poets create videos, display poetry. The possibilities are endless.

Hanbury Hall 2014

Hanbury Hall Ekphrastic Poetry Project 2017 

– FREE entry to the grounds/the Long Gallery,

– a wonderful gallery of local artwork (in many mediums) to appreciate, 

– time and an inspiring venue to scribble notes/poems…

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Beyond The Veil

Handkerchiefs, white twisted prayer,
sobs breach and break the mourning air,
death takes, will not be second-guessed,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

The shelter with its angled roof
hears clattering of horses’ hooves,
covers the dear departed, blessed;
her shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

The bearers seated by the corpse
know flesh, bones, come to nothing, naught
to ponder, but in time accept,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

From lych to church seems overlong,
they pause, they pray, they chant their song,
to see her pass this way – none guessed
a shroud around the lych would rest.

A hot ague shook her life away,
the children sobbed, begged her to stay,
but death took life, it sucked her breath,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

Yet that was then and this is now,
time changes, untracked: marriage vow,
photo backdrop, bride with guests,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

Spectres, spirits of the passed,
plague actors in the wedding cast,
this shady place does it oppress
if shrouds beneath the lychgate rest?

‘Death is the only deathless one’,[1]
time lingers brief, they’ve just begun,
this is for life, no trial or test,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

Fading out the nuptial glitter,
shadows cast by bygone sitters,
carnation wilts upon his breast,
and shrouds beneath the lychgate rest.

The charm of years, a pretty place,
he gazes down on her sweet face,
craves togetherness, wedded, yes,
a shroud beneath the lychgate rests.

Polly Stretton © 2017


[1] John Payne (1842-1916)


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Nina’s WPL Blog – August 2017

Our Poet Laureate’s been busy!

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Worcestershire Poet Laureate News and Reviews

I am delighted to be Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2017/18. I cannot believe that two months have passed already. There are lots of plans in the making and several current opportunities you can take advantage of.

1

Submissions

Submissions are now open for poems about Worcestershire. Send 1-3 previously unpublished poems in the body of an email to worcspl@gmail.combefore the 31st August.

2

I am producing several digital magazines during my tenure and work for this latest call out will appear in Contour in the Autumn, a free online magazine.

I am also looking for artwork/photographs for this issue.

Workshop

Tickets are on sale for a workshop I am delivering on Monday 18th September at Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury. We are using the Sculpture Trail as initial inspiration. Tickets include free cake and tea/coffee, a marquee for the workshop and a tour of…

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Two Companion Poems

These are two of the poems that I wrote for Mike Alma’s poetry anthology Voices of 1919 published in 2016. There is a special performance of Voices of 1919 poetry by distinguished local actors on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September, at Elmsleigh Hall, Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Great Malvern WR14 3AG–7pm until 9pm plus an interval

Bells Toll

Eliza Ruscoe at number thirteen
cocks her head, hears the bells toll,
she can tell the time by this and John,
husband, signalman, will be home soon,
carrying the metallic whiff of Brasso-clean levers
and fusty yellow dusters, faintly grey.
She serves stew, high in vegetables,
war-grown in the garden
where hens peck;
it used to be full of flowers,
now all chicken shit and veg.
She thinks of her boys
and their hollow legs,
smiles,
looks forward to filling them up again,
thanks to an absence of telegrams.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

John – the Signalman

He uses the yellow dusters
with the red, blanket-stitched edges
to shine the upright levers,
covering confusion and fear.
He was brought up with a stiff upper lip;
a trembling mouth was a sign of weakness.
He shows no worries for his two boys,
or ecstasy on their return,
though he feels it deep inside.
Deep down inside his joy
sits, welling up,
and his chest lifts,
a picture of pride in his sons.
His well-ordered existence
for once made a pleasure,
for they are coming home.
Coming home.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

Front cover - Voices of 1919


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House, Kennack Sands. Cornwall – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

Love this House – ‘blisters and…overgrown gutters’ – Wow!

House, Kennack Sands. Cornwall

House teeters on the cliff’s high edge,
looks out across the drizzling, grizzled shoreline.
House must keep her head in the clouds
so she is careful never to look down.
House is stubborn, built square and stout.
Once her feet were planted in tomorrow.
Now the red earth retreats, loosens its grip,
shifts a little more with every day.
But still House goes on. Stares out the weather.
Hears the grey gulls squabble and screech.
Her blue eyes are dull. Her roof, her stone,
knows the end of things will come when it will.
Let waves crash and roar, let wind have its way;
let the elements perform their very worst.
House stands for all that. She endures her undoing,
loves her blisters and her overgrown gutters;
finds something to honour in her damp
and rotting timbers and her long neglected flaws.
House is bold, defiant…

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