If you are passing Hexham Hospital over the next few months, do make a point of swinging by the Atrium (next to the HVS shop) to see Touch, a beautiful exhibition curated by Matilda Bevan. I’m very happy to have a poem included, written specially for the show – printed by Christopher Bacon in Allendale and embellished with watercolour details by Matilda. It sits well alongside work by Mathilda Hornsey, a QEHS student who was invited to participate.
The other artists whose work, using a range of different media, is on display are: Jo Aris, Enrique Azocar, Pauline Gibson, Sheila Martin, Claudia Sacher. All the pieces are delicate but strong, inviting close attention and reflection, resonating in unusual ways with each other and within the hospital context. It’s really worth a look. You will be touched.
The American poet Galway Kinnell wrote: The secret title of every good poem might be ‘Tenderness’.
And so begins Jane Hirshfield’s ‘Late Prayer’ –
Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally,
Circling rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
A single nail, a single ruby –
All the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.
In ‘Ars Poetica?’ the Polish poet Czeslow Milosz wrote:
The purpose of poetry is to remind us
How difficult it is to remain just one person,
For our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
And invisible guests come in and out at will,
(trans. Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee)
On yet another snowy day, I have been enjoying sitting by my fire and re-reading Jane Hirshfield’s wonderful essay ‘Writing and the Threshold Life’, from Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1998). These quotes come from that book and the images are from The Heart of the Matter at Great North Museum: Hancock, an exhibition by Sofie Layton et al. ‘Heartland’ is my own contribution.