WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
My new spectacles are worse than my old ones.
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
My son’s birthday.
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Last weekend saw me doing a spot more of DIY, which did not take as long as I anticipated which is unusual as most DIY jobs I do nearly always take longer as I underestimate the task in hand. This weekend however saw me change the design and so cut out a vast amount of work. This was mainly due to what I thought would look pretty naff actually turned out to be a fine minimalist expression. Less is More as they say.
Sunday saw a trip to Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire – the home of the Vernon family, whose experience of owning the Hall was varied and the wonder stuff of costume dramas. I have been a member of the National Trust and English Heritage for many years and in the past have not used my membership of both these organisations as custodians of our heritage, to good effect. This year however I feel I have at least covered my costs with visits during the summer.
My interests lie in the people as the Ancestors of the place, quite often the exhibits on show are of the period and not original pieces that these ancestors actually chose, purchased and used in their daily lives. So they do not resonate with me in the same way that the space and the way they used the space does.
I am always looking at the books on the shelves and quite often find that these are the true relics of the family, even if the desks and chairs are not. A library says a lot about its owner and their interests. Books also transcend periods and old leather bound books can be found sitting along side modern paperbacks.
Most libraries in Stately Homes have examples the “must be seen to have” type books, the classics that everyone had but I suspect no one ever read. The Complete Works of Shakespeare appears on most if not all of these types of bookshelves.
Most also have what I call the “vanity books”, the books about the area, that are most likely to have entries that mentions the place itself and its place in the landscape, geology and the flora and fauna.
As a poet I always look for the poetry, as I said Shakespeare always appears, but I am heartened to see the works of Donne, Spenser et al, among the works on display. But in the main the poetry stops at the early 17th Century. The later members of the family seem more interested in hunting and fishing, collecting china and seeking guidance from an annual almanac.
Hanbury was very much the same and sadly did not explore poetry beyond the aforementioned Shakespeare and Spenser and I did not find the unique book that helped define the owners. It was much as would be expected in a cobbled together museum piece, which makes me question whether the Hanbury Library is authentic and not just the custodians view on what would have been on the bookshelves.
Writing has not progressed and my head seems cluttered; Not least by the strain of trying to wear my new spectacles, which I am now convinced are not the right prescription and so have reverted to my old pair whilst I discuss it with my optician.
This unease does not help un-clutter my mind and allow me to focus on some new poems. As I said last week in this blog – I need to be able to walk with my themes and tease out the poems, this is however hard when the mere act of walking needs a constant alertness to ensure that the ground will be under my feet as I take the next step. New glasses always have that effect on me changing the perspective of the landscape such that the ground changes its position in respect to how I perceive my body moving through it.
Readings have slowed down a little since my very busy month in July, it is not that there are no readings to attend, but the time does not allow for me to attend as many as I could.
I will be at Night Blue Fruit in Coventry, this week and will be at Spoken Worlds in Burton on 16th and Of course I will MC at FIZZ on the 20th. These are all regular evenings for me and I am thinking that I need to spread further afield and to try some new venues.
The Fizz 9 with guest poet Antony Owen plus open mic – 20th September at 7:30pm – Polesworth Abbey Refectory.
My Lost Poet is Muriel Stuart (1885 – 1967)
Muriel Stuart is often cited as being one of the best Scottish Poets of her generation, despite being born and living all her life in England. She was considered as a Scottish poet due to her ancestry and her work was often included in anthologies of early 20th century Scottish poetry.
She was born Muriel Stuart Irwin of Scottish parents in Norbury, South London in 1885, her father was a barrister. She had a private education and attended art school before settling into a job in publishing.
She is known for her poetry on sexual politics (e.g. ANDROMEDA UNFETTERED), although her earlier work saw her writing war poetry (e.g. FORGOTTEN DEAD, I SALUTE YOU.)
Her poems are sharp and lively, from a woman’s voice that not only desires the attention of men but also expresses a need for independent freedom. Poems such as IN THE ORCHARD show her experimenting with new forms, the poem consisting entirely of dialogue and would have been quite radical in its day.
MEN AND THEIR MAKERS sees her seeking the roles of mankind in the landscape of the earth, that humans are a whimsical dream of the more solid earth.
Her poem THE SEED SHOP, shows her seeking out the potential in everything as she explores the apparently dead seeds, trickling them through her fingers, she sees meadows and forests held in the palm of her hands.
After a brief first marriage, she married for a second time in 1922. Following the birth of her son and daughter she gave up writing poetry in favour of her love of gardening, THE SEED SHOP perhaps gives hints of this. She wrote a book on gardening in 1938 – The Gardeners Nightcap which is still available for Persephone Books.
Muriel Stuart is poetic voice that has been overlooked in the last seventy years and I believe she is due for reconsideration.
Muriel Stuart poems at Project Gutenberg.
The Gardeners Nightcap at Persephone Books.
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
6th Sept – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s in Coventry.
16th Sept – SPOKEN WORLDS – Burton on Trent.
20th Sept – THE FIZZ at Polesworth
24th Sept – 100000 Poets for Change – venue TBA
30th Sept – Launch of Sculpture on the Mound at Pooley Country Park.
(I will be reading Bernadette O’Dwyer’s Poem Jutt)