By nature I like to communicate with other people and had feared the canal life would make me lose touch with friends, but social media kept me sociable, people on the canalside are chatty and the new hobby of blogging started me writing for a wider audience. This month I have been extending my writing hobby into poetry, with the help of my sister, Anne, who already is part of writing and poetry groups in London. This has been particularly useful at a time when we are restricting our socialising to outdoor only and not travelling.
Each day this month her writing group have taken turns to share a prompt or stimulus to be used to write a poem. She first told me about it when the stimulus was a wheedle, where there were complex restrictions on the poem style as well as the words you needed to include and luckily for me I had done Wordle in 2 that day so was able to break myself gently into the poetry with a couplet put together on the train.
Poet(ry) in Train(ing)
Today I try, for the very first time,
A brief foray into coupling rhyme.
Anne shared other prompts and I continued to apply the wheedle rules. I am not sure it has created the best poetry in me, but it has been an interesting challenge. Some have exercised my mind quite a lot as they have been a puzzle to try to stick to the rules and forces the style and vocabulary. While sharing my struggle with Anne, she said the wheedle was just the stimulus for one day and the other topics did not need to use that format. And relax!
Worry and ill health was cropping up more often in my poems, but the other day the prompt was “give it a try…” which reminded me of something completely different.
It was the perfect pitch,
Not in the busy street or a shop doorway, where people hurry past, other things on their mind,
But at a leafy green junction of the walks, North Meadow and Middle Meadow,
Often used by buskers
All year round.
He became a fixture, rain or shine, year after year,
Trying out his poetry on the public, with his distinctive delivery,
“Can I interest yōu,
In a Big Issūe?”
Welcoming all with his open stance, leaning forward,
Stretching out his hand, reaching out
“Don’t be shy,
Give it a try!”
Kept coming to sell in his 60s, determined, the office providing him with walking aids to get there,
Never changed, treated everyone with the same respect,
Royalty or homeless.
When he died, no one else took his place, at his pitch there is a plaque commemorating him,
You never know what might make you a celebrity!
“Don’t be shy, give it a try!”
On my way to see the plaque, just as I reached the Meadows, I noticed a coffee hut ( Edinburgh is full of ex police boxes converted into food stalls and coffee stops) that had been for lease before we left to the boat. I could see it had been freshly painted and wondered what was for sale. But there was no price list.
We have managed to meet some friends for walks and outside chats both arranged and by accident. As the breakfast bothy says, there are plenty of cafes in the area. How lucky I am to have no need of the box, and to have two places I call home.
Yesterday Bryn told me the centre he works in will be closed next week, and he might come to Edinburgh. Sadly in our attempt to stay safe we had to ask if he could stay somewhere else, though we would be happy to meet him. We have said he can stay on Bartimaeus and explore Derbyshire, but he has opted to visit Nye in stead. I feel bad saying no but he understands and we look forward to meeting up with him another time. Quite likely on the boat as we move south.
The Dundee visit and all the poetry had paused my knitting. I remembered I had promised to finish up my project. I had seen a post about knitting dolls that can be used in refugee relief packs in stead of styrofoam and delivering dolls to cuddle for children who may have had to leave their toys behind when fleeing war and perhaps some small comfort. I have made six, all different, but all little enough to fit in a pocket. Today I have posted them away at last.