Tag Archives: apples

Happy National Poetry Day!

This year’s theme is ‘The Environment’ so here’s a poem from my new book Startling.

*

Tree of Knowledge

Unseasonable damp heat seeds spores,

a contagious grey pallor curls the tips of leaves 

into fists.  I cut off the mouldy shoots.  We are 

writing this poem together.  Stray trusses stay 

out of reach without tilting a shaky wooden ladder 

against the snaking trunk to clamber into uncertainty.  

A woman, no scholar of gravity, who planted a sapling 

(SaturnTree of Knowledge) bought by post 

from the British Library, I want the poem and its tree 

to last longer, survive.  The fruit’s just starting to set, 

downy thumbs of sweetness, apples-to-be, mildew 

and artless balance willing.  Inside the poem, 

unrunged, inside nature, might we catch sight

of love and know where we live? 

*

Before the launch next week at Durham Book Festival, I’ll be hosting a workshop looking at how we might turn our concerns about ‘the environment’ into writing that catches the attention and has the potential to change minds and spur action.

You can find more information here. Look forward to seeing those of you who can make it at Clayport Library on Friday 14th October 4 – 5.30 and later at 7 in Collected bookshop. Lx

*

P.S.

The poem is actually in couplets but once again I am confounded by WordPress’s blunt formatting – or my own lack of technical know-how. And so I surrender to digital wabi sabi and bow.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Russet

I want to say Eve’s tears

Unknown-3

I want to say her freckled skin

Unknown-2

I want to say unlock the pantry

Unknown

I want to say a finch singing

Unknown-1

I want to say green, darling, green

Paintings by Vanessa Bell

Words from last week’s ‘Poetry of Food’ workshop

Tagged , , , ,

Apple Pressing Day

IMAG1430A wonderful day at the Farmer’s Market in Hexham on Saturday – surrounded by apples and juice and everyone in good spirits.  As the apples were being pressed, I gathered people’s apple memories –  from Durham to Himachal Pradesh, from Holland to Northumberland, from Kent to Slovakia, from wartime to that very morning.   FullSizeRenderThe plan is I’ll weave the 52 luggage-label offerings into a collaborative, on-the-fly renga.  To follow shortly…FullSizeRender

Tagged , , , ,

The Unexpected Orchard

Friday was a beautiful day and I tagged along with a couple of Transition Tynedalers to pick some apples at Jim’s orchard – an unlikely spot squeezed between the River Tyne and the A69 on the edge of Hexham.

photo

It was the start of a conversation I’ll be having with Transition Tynedale (and Edible Hexham) considering the poetry of food, gardening and ecology. Part of a new Northern Poetry Library Project, which is placing six poets in residence in libraries across the county. I’ll be based close to home in Hexham. There’s a launch reading at the Northern Poetry Library in Morpeth on National Poetry Day, Thursday 8th October at 7pm. Do come along if you’d like to find out more and meet the poets.

photo (1)

Transition Tynedale will be pressing some of Jim’s apples (and others) at Hexham Farmers’ Market on Saturday 10th October 10 – 1. If you’re passing, come and say hello and have a taste of juice. I will also be pressing poems out of people!

photo (2)

At 96, Jim has trouble keeping on top of this wonderful orchard he planted himself. Figs, peaches, medlars and soft fruit as well as apples. Talking to him put me in mind of Robert Frost’s poem After Apple Picking.

photo (3)

photo (5)

photo (4)

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still,

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and disappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin

The rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost

 

photo (6)

Tagged , , , , ,