Saturday, 5 August 2017

CUMBRIA WILDLIFE TRUST, THE RASPBERRY AND THE ROWAN POETRY ANTHOLOGY


photo: Cumbria Wildlife Trust


From Cumbria Wildlife Trust's website, here's what CWT Jody Ferguson has to say about it:

"During spring and summer 2016 we enjoyed two lovely days at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve with poet and creative writing tutor Geraldine Green and two fantastic groups of writers. 
We explored meadows and bogs, admired vast landscapes and tiny moths, and talked about everything from lichen to lava.

The writing inspired by these wonderful days on the nature reserve is featured in an anthology called The Raspberry and the Rowan which can be downloaded from the link below.
If you’d like a printed copy please email jodyf@cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk and they’ll be dispatched hot off the press! Printed anthologies are free of charge but donations to Cumbria Wildlife Trust are welcome."




photo of Blencathra by Geraldine Green


Link here for more info on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust's website



Poets on the Hill, Eycott Volcanics, photo by Geraldine Green


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Dates for your diary - poetry workshops, residential courses and readings 2017


Write on the Farm Writing Group Spring/Autumn 2017
with Geraldine Green  -  Dates for your Diary:

Please note: to reserve a place on Write on the Farm workshops contact Geraldine Green

February 25th: Write on the Farm with co-tutor writer and harper, Christine Cochrane - a wonderful day of poetry and harp music! Thank you so much Christine for being such a fine co-tutor and to Sue, for accompanying you on the harp. You can read more about Christine on her blog Harping On




March 18th: Write on the Farm a day fine tuning (pun!) harp and wolf related poems written on the February Farm workshop. Big thanks to Sally Evans, editor of  Poetry Scotland  for publishing them in a future issue edition - you are a poetry star!  More about Sally, here


Group poem about harps and wolves...






April:
April 22nd Write on the Farm with co-tutor Catherine Ayres: “Loss and Wonder – a Hymn to the Natural World” - Like me, Catherine is also published by Indigo Dreams

May:
May 20th Write on the Farm, Brigflatts
Timings and more info to follow. About Brigflatts   How to get to Brigflatts



Garden at Brantwood

June:
June 15th-17th Midsummer Poetry, Brantwood with Pippa Little and Geraldine Green:

June 24th Write on the Farm, 10.30am-4.30pm – part of the day will be an outdoor session at Burns Beck Moss (near Jane’s farm). 


June 25th ‘Write on the Shore’, South Walney Nature Reserve, Booking is through Cumbria Wildlife Trust




Write on the Farm workshops start up again in September – dates to be confirmed.



September Creative Writing Course, Dallam Community Course, Heversham: 

Creative Writing with Geraldine Green - Thursday mornings, 10am-12 noon

‘Digging deeper’ - explore and expand your creative writing process through critical analysis of your own writing plus that of published writers

October 2nd-5th October Writers’ Retreat Brantwood Coniston with Graham Mort and Geraldine Green:
Booking is through   Brantwood


Brantwood, November 2016


November:

November 2nd, Poetry Evening, Brantwood Coniston with Geraldine Green, Kerry Darbishire, Graham Mort and Kim Moore. Open Mic places limited to six – book early to reserve your slot!
Booking is through Brantwood



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

POETRY ON THE ROAD, CELEBRATING SUMMER READINGS IN THE USA 2008

USA SUMMER 2008

And a full month with poetry friends, in Oklahoma, San Diego, Long Island, New York City, New Jersey ending with the River to River Festival at Beacon, Hudson Valley, upstate New York.

What a trip!

I’m still pinching meself – did it happen? was it real! Yep and yep!

2008/2009: So here I am now back in England, mostly raining, something to get back used to. I love the warm rain in NY, doesn’t matter if it’s thunder, lightning and pelting down in cats and dogs! It’s still warm and the extreme weather suits me.

Anyhow, I’m doing this out of synch. I’ll start again. The trip came about bit by bit over the last what? 8 months? Nine months? And yep, a little like pregnancy, seeded and fruited! First, an invite to read at the Woody Guthrie Festival, so ok, yes, for sure I’d love to - then an idea to head over to the West coast, take in a couple of readings and fly across to OK for the WoodyFest… that didn’t quite pan out, tho I did make the Woodyfest and a trip to stay with poet friends in San Diego.



OKLAHOMA – Chocktaw name, meaning ‘Land of the Red Man’

“Okemah where I come from was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, fist-fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch and farm towns because it blossomed into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.” – Woody Guthrie

Thursday

So we arrived in OK, late cos of a delay in Atlanta … jeez! Planes queuing up on the runway, like a traffic jam on the M6! Anyhow, so Carol Hamilton, our lovely patient poet friend, collected us and shepherded to her home, where we stayed til the following Tuesday. That was some stay! After a late night, early morning, and a long lazy lie in, and after lunch with a couple of Carol’s friends, we collected George (Wallace) from the airport and whumph! Straight off to the Sac and Fox Pow Wow, just outside Strioud.

Carol’s a darling and knew I wanted to meet with her indigenous American Indian friends and for me to experience the vibrant Indian culture that exists in OK. There are pics on Myspace, of the Pow Wow. The name is a derivation of “Asakiwaki (Sauk) and Meshkwahkihaki (Mesquakie/Fox) and the Sac and Fox are Algonquin-speaking peoples originally from the northeastern United States. Asakiwaki means ‘people of the yellow earth’ and Meshkwahkihawi means ‘people of the red earth’.  These two distinct Native American nations are united in Oklahoma as the Sac and Fox Nation. (www.cowboy.net/native/sacnfox)

It was an interesting mix of timeless rituals meets contemporary America, in that a round the sacred circle, where the menfolk musicians sat in the centre, there were hotdog stands, ice cream vendors, an ordinary, extraordinary mix of energies, kids running around, women in sumptuous clothes and shawls….

The chief dancer with his full feathered head dress on, the drummer, in an everyday, all American t-shirt… the young women who, once they’d completed a dance, removed their shawls and become once more, young 21st century women. Yet, moments earlier they’d been entranced and entranced as they took measured steps around the circle as the men played and sang, a haunting song and the drummer beat as if calling the earth to respond.

We all loved the MC! He kept saying, in a lazy drawl, so laid back and rich chocolate voiced, “we-ell we’re waiting for the main dancers to arri-eev-e, they’ll be here soon and we’ll commence our eeeeevening FESTIvities folks our feeestiVIties! Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the sunshine. It’s been raining awl day and this here circle was so wet, so wet! We ‘most thought it would be unfit to dance on, but the good rain came and sweetened this cereeee monial ground and now, folks, sit back and enjoy the good rain we’ve been blessed with!’

We sat on and watched the women dance, and the children being led round the sacred circle by a grandfather elder who held the hand of the first child and was bending low, talking quiet to the front children, with tales of how their Nation came into being. I overheard snippets as I took photos. It was a moving moment, there, as the sun set behind the trees, on that raised ground with the Plains stretching on all sides and across the road, down the way a little, a Casino, run by the Sac and Fox People.

We called it making stitches

that soft shuffle forward to one side and
back again – stitches,
the game we played as kids,
last night at the Sac and Fox Pow Wow
the women and children
stitched themselves back to the earth
stitched the good, red earth, stitched
the yellow earth, stitched the rain and the wind
and the song stitched itself back in
to the ground where it grew into a tapestry
of pink and white flowers, grew
into turquoise song
flowered into
their fringed shawls
into their babies
their men
and the stars
and the crescent moon
that hung low over the horizon
and the song rose
in the mouths of the men
like thunder growing
a flower of thunder
a tree of lightning
inside that space where time
flattens itself out.

Friday

Carol took George, Geoff and myself for a walk along a Nature Trail called Soldier Creek. – see pic below

One of the joys of the whole trip was the memory games we’d play, mostly when we’d be driving along, ‘what was the name of the creek Carol took us to where we saw that squirrel and you held your hand out, and it came up and sniffed it?’ ‘Soldier Creek?’ ‘Yes!’ and what does the name ‘Oklahoma’ mean? ‘Land of the Red Man?’ Yep! OK your turn to ask a question…. Right, what year was the Oklahoma Land Run?’ 1889? Yay! You got it!. This meant we’d be all pretty clued up wherever we went!

Sitting here, staring out my little study window, on another rainy day in August, typing this takes me straight back to the fierce heat of Oklahoma … ‘ you guys sure are lucky! Last year it was 110 degrees, wasn’t it George? Remember?’ Carol would tell us how hot it had been in 2007 at The Woody Fest and how they’d been sweating and George just would not stop playing Bocci, even in the heat!

After resting in the afternoon at Carol’s we went to her friend’s in the evening, Dorothy and Devey’s where there was a gathering of poets, each bringing food and poems, the poems to be collated into the Woody Guthrie Poetry Anthology 2008. After food, an informal reading, the poets went purposefully, meanderingly, happily out the back into Dorothy’s studio where a production line was set up to collate and staple 100 sets of around 100 poems. It was fun! People were interested in why Geoff and I were there:

What did we think of  Oklahoma, the poetry, the heat! And were we looking forward to the WoodyFest. The spirit of Woody was there in the simple communal activity of around 12 poets walking round the table, chatting, sipping wine, but intent on the job in hand: pick up, collate, shuffle poems into a set, put down for the collator to do their job.

We were made so very welcome wherever we went and I especially found the Oklahomans down to earth and friendly, very in touch with the land. Their poetry centred a lot around the Dust Bowl years, the Depression, relating similar stories in their poems to that experienced by Woody and his family.

The land, especially, the Indigenous Native American Indians, plants and animals featured strongly. I was influenced by all these tales and that night dreamed of a Bobcat, which yes, featured in the first poem I wrote on the visit. The poets we met at this informal evening were, like us, heading off to the Woody Fest the following morning where we’d be reading together in Okemah, Woody’s birthplace.

LAST NIGHT IT WAS THE BOBCAT

I woke, wanting a piss
the owl hooted once or twice
by our window.
Look at that! You said.
You were awake too, you
almost made me jump
out my skin.
We went out back, I crouched
behind that rock
just where the bobcat first saw me
as I squatted by the black oak.

Describe it me, you said
as I wrapped myself up
in covers and your body.
Describe it me.
Small head, neat ears
fierce-looking eyes, but
body slender, tail thick
haunches taut, ready to spring.

Saturday - Okemah, Okfuskee County

“Okemah where I come from was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, fist-fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch and farm towns because it blossomed into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.” – Woody Guthrie

We set off fairly early, planning to get to Okemah in time for Mary Jo’s Pancake Breakfast – I have the t-shirt to prove it! But no pancakes! It was cool, though we were too late for pancakes, Geoff reckons there weren’t any as we couldn’t see any signs of them having been eaten, looking at the tables outside, where the garden area was packed to the gills with folk sitting listening to the music on offer, on a small stage down at the bottom of the garden. We stood, at first, listening to the gentle rock and folk beat of Jimmy Le Fave and later the multi talented David Amram, who’d be backing all us poets later in the day.

What’s coming through as I type this up, is how it’s the people I remember, their warmth, openness, curiosity about where we live, my poetry, whether it was at Mary Jo’s, the previous evening at Dorothy’s, the friendliness yet to be shared of the poets at the Via Dolce, Cornelia Street Café, Small’s Jazz Club… the Jack Kerouac Softball Game …. But I’m getting ahead of myself in reveries!

So yes, Mary Jo’s, I found a wooden swing seat to sit on, and, sipping iced water, swung back and forth with three other people I shared the swing with, under the shade of a tree, listening to people joining in with songs and clapping, with tributes to Woody…. The buzz building up as the day grew hotter – ‘tho not as hot as it was last year!’ I bought a t-shirt with the Mary Jo slogan ion one side and a white buffalo on the other, Geoff bought himself a WoodyFest t-shirt and then he and I ate lunch in the Brick Street Café.

Picking up the thread … January 2009

Saturday, continued

“Way over yonder in the minor key”

I’m sitting here again, in my study, gazing out on wet snow covered fells and picking up the thread of the USA trip… we’re still in Okemah with quite a lot of ground to cover.

What are my impressions, at this increased distance in time, of Okemah? Of Oklahoma? Let’s start with the slow lazy town, dusty road heat of Okemah. For me it epitomized  my idea of a small town in America’s mid West. How? Wide streets, lazy air to the rhythm of walking, as if the heat drives people more slowly to churn engines, smiles, leg stride. The streets seemed fairly empty. Where was everyone?

Like I say, we ate lunch in the Brick Street Café and that was humming! Packed to the rafters, there was life, chatter, buzz, energy, laughter. People hearing an English accent were like, hey where you guys from? What you doin’ here in Okemah? Oh, we’re here for the WoodyFest. Say, no kiddin’? You guys come all the way from ENGLAND just for the WoodyFest? Yep!

We made our way to the Church where the poetry readings, backed by musician, David Amram, were to take place; a medium-sized, modern Church, with poor aircon, and a couple of fans to cool us all down. There were around 60 people there, people whom I’d met the previous night at Dorothy’s and Devey’s, such a friendly bunch of people, proud of their town and county, happy to share stories and experience of the Dustbowl Years –

- Dorothy, who as a child was a neighbour of the Guthrie’s, read a poem about her experience. It was a privilege to hear it. They were all welcoming to this woman who’d come from England – where? Cumbria! Where’s that? Oh well, north of Liverpool and Manchester, but south of Scotland.

I noticed a general theme running through many of the poems, that of the land, either where people lived, or came from or had visited. And it made me think of poet friend George Wallace’s conversations with me about hefting.

Hefting.

Herdwick sheep heft the land, they know it, know their own turf, where to feed how far to wander before reaching the limits of their boundaries and they pass this knowledge on to their lambs. This process of hefting was interrupted by the foot and mouth epidemic 2002-4. There are other ways of ‘walking’ [footnote, ‘ways of walking’ tim ingold] being hefted to one place and knowing that place intimately, in the writing of Aldo Leopold, John Clare and Norman Nicholson, for example, as well as indigenous people whose area of walking might be wide, as in the case of Aborignes and First Nation Americans, but who know that land in different seasons.

There’s also a way of walking that explores new places, it’s a walking of exploration, of discovery. For me, as a Cumbrian pretty much hefted to Cumbria most of my life, my visit to America, Greece and Spain was a walking of exploration, of discovery.

After the poetry reading people dispersed until the evening, when more singing took place at a local winery and I had my first game of Bocci. Later still, was the main gig in the Fields of Plenty. Storms had been forecast and sure enough we’d no sooner sat down than you could see the pink and black clouds piling up ‘way over yonder’ not in a minor key! But in the bass key of thunder growls. And sure enough low on the horizon forked lightning flashed and sure enough the storm gathered pace and spread itself with a whumph right over the fields of plenty and us, sitting on the grass on chairs on blankets on on on – and we gathered up our spreadeagled jackets we gathered up our soft folding chairs and we ran like hell to the rows of parked cars  ...

... and in a small way, in that moment, I imagined what it would be like to live out in these plains where ice storms battered people in winter and tornadoes and hurricanes swept up houses and people, animals and cars in their paths smashing them before zipping up and over the Plains; imagines the First Nation Indians ‘this land is their land’ in their tepees, riding the storms; imagined the Pioneers heading west ‘young man, young woman’ in their wagon trains, to face death, starvation, fortune and hurricanes … and so we legged it to the cars, us civilised humans, soaking wet Carol drove us to her home in Oklahoma City.

Sunday

Next day, George was flying home to Long Island, but before that Carol, eager and happy to show us around, took us first to the site of the Oklahoma Bombing – note instinctive use of capital letters. [Why do we do that? Why feel the need to capitalise words? To create a memorial to remind us of death, or bravery or to mark the place where something extraordinary, out of the ordinary, whether celebratory or not, took place?

I’m thinking back, whilst staring out the window across the A66 running from east to west, west to east, and the enclosed fields and jackdaws flying in front the window, I’m thinking back to the Sac and Fox Pow Wow’s sacred space, with its ‘doors’ its opening to all four points of the compass … thinking of shapes of the roundness of things, of nests and tepees; of the A66 linearity of Route 66’ coast to coast, linking up towns and the A66 by-passing them …. What am I saying here, what links am I making with shapes and spaces? With route markers and memorial places?]

The site of the bombing was black marble and water; was light and reflection; a flat calm like oblong sky; calm, a calm place to walk in silence. Once  you walk up the steps to the raised plateau of stone and water you do feel you’ve entered a space/place where to raise our voice would be to disturb the dead, to be disrepectful to the memory of those who were murdered. Sitting here, now, I can still feel the taste of black marble and silver water; see the sky reflected, see the people and memorial buildings reflected… as above so below …

Carol took us next to Capitol Hill, to the National Cowboy Museum. I was intrigued to see small oil derricks pumping their stubby necks like crude prehistoric donkeys up and down and up all around Capitol Hill. Curious site to see the wealth of a state so blatantly, innocently, pumping black gold up from the earth’s bowels, pumping money into Oklahoma – gas stations’ big posters ‘say NO to hybrid fuel! Say NO to ethanol!’

I found the cowboy museum touching. There were graves outside to favourite horses, graves celebrating the strength of rodeo bulls – a poem by ‘an anonymous cowboy’ to his beloved horse, called Midnight. I found myself thinking of the history of not just Oklahoma, but the making of the United States and how, not so long ago, hundred years hundred fifty? 1890 (check!) the Land Run enabled people to rush in and stake a claim to a parcel of land, to build their homes on it to become part of the land - ‘this land is your land, this land is our land’- that became in the early 1900’s the state of Oklahoma.

This land is made for you and me!

Monday

Our penultimate trip on the Oklahoma leg of the USA visit, Summer 2008, was to the Perkins Eagle Sanctuary, run by Native American Indian Victor Robidoux and his assistant. En route there, we stopped at the small neat town of Perkins, admiring its huge mural, painted on the side of a long brick wall; admired its smart hanging basket; its white, steel-girdered water tower, with PERKINS written boldly on it.

After taking some photos we drove through Perkins, on the look-out for the Eagle Sanctuary. I spotted two eagles, not golden ones, but fish eagles, circling above a river. I’m saying look! eagles! A sign! But nope, we never stopped!

We drove on a little way, and saw a small rather rundown home, with the standard front porch, which to my English eyes, looked so very mid-western American; beside the house were two, large mesh enclosures – just ideal, we thought, for injured eagles to be housed in. So we parked up and wandered around, looking for someone.

Eventually, a man, dusting his hands down old, faded overalls walked towards us, with a young boy. We explained we were looking for the Perkins Eagle Sanctuary and a buffalo enclosure. I think due to a language/accent misunderstanding, they thought we had an injured golden eagle in the boot/trunk of Carol’s car!

After one or two false turns off the main highway, we found the sanctuary and met the twinkle-eyed warmth of Victor and his assistant, Megan.

I think, before I go on, I’ll just write down a list of names, from my trip notebook:

S. Francis of the Woods
Cimarron River
Osage County
Mimosa
Lawton, Tall Grass, Buffalo
Small oil wells
Wildhorse Creek

And some quotes from Victor:

I tell you, you could catch catfish with bubblegum – this in response to my asking him the two birds I saw, circling the Cimarron, were golden eagles – no, probably fish eagles.

Dugout Creek
Iowa Nation Eagle Sanctuary
Jealousy Junction
Iowa Nation Tribe

Victor and his assistant explained the ethos behind the sanctuary, how it had grown up and then showed us into the huge enclosed barn, with plenty of windows and light and branches – everything to make the injured or stray, eagles feel at home and able to recuperate before release – though some of them would never be released because their injuries were too great.

He named the eagles for us:

Winokoway – the Wild Man, a Southern Bald Eagle, blind in right eye

Thiga – Third daughter
Hainu – First daughter

And the bald eagle on the photo? ‘Whirlwind’ and the woman with him? Sigrid Eulblacker

And the feathers? Eagle feathers are not allowed to be used, you must have a special license to use eagle feathers for ceremonies. These are protected. We have a special license. If any birds die, we are allowed to use their feathers in our sacred ceremonies. We keep them for our tribe first; we give them to other tribes after. We honour the eagles; they are the Iowa Tribe Sacred Bird. And the feathers? We use the right wing for dance ceremonies; the left wing for religious ceremonies.

And this eagle? What is his/her name, please?

Eee Jay Gra Chega – Woman who talks old news over and over again

Where do they live? In forests and long islands

And this bird?
Etdodo – Friend

Victor spoke to us of Harmonic Convergence, December 21 2012; he spoke of spirituality ‘it’s not religion. It’s not culture. it’s spiritual.’ And the 13th planet. And how the number four is sacred, ‘when you pick two herbs, you leave one to grow back.’ And ‘why is the eagle sacred to us? The eagle is the only creature to see the face of the Creator’

All this in soft undertones and asides and smiles and ‘you want to see buffalo? Sure! Lemme call up Ken, Knight, the cowboy.

We thought, well, I know I did, that the cowboy he was calling would bring one buffalo up, a young one, perhaps, in the back of his truck, but no! next thing a roar and dust and hooves pounding and a big herd of buffalo came storming up the rise at the back of the sanctuary. I have never heard or seen anything like it.

The young ones were orange-red like the earth, the males were massive, massive. Their big heavy heads thick black heavy head, shaggy and huge. ‘we can’t let you go too close cos of the fact it’s mating time’ said the cowhand, laconically. ‘that ol’ bull’ spitting and pointing ‘ that ol’ bull there? Well he just tossed me in the air like I was a piece of paper and I landed in the van, I shut the door damn quick! He got me in the back of my right leg – it was wounded – now it’s better than it’s ever been! (loud laugh, quick spit) now THAT sure is Indian med’cine!’

And after the roars of laughter comes the seriousness:

‘Remember when we butchered a buffalo, out in the field there? The big bull came up and watched. Then they all stood in a circle and watched when the blood ran, the buffalo went wild, pawing the ground and sniffing. the males tried to nudge the dead bison. The day after the buffalo was butchered and its body moved away, the males came up first, sniffed the ground. They knelt down, then got up and did a stiff-legged dance. Then the cows came up and did the same thing. Then the calves.  Then they all left in single file. They did the same thing on day three and day four. And that’s where we get our dances from.’

I asked Victor what they did with the feathers. ‘We give the other tribes any feathers the Iowa don’t need. When the tribes come, it’s a very emotional time. It’s the nearest they’ll get to an eagle and they come and pray. Give a tobacco offering to the eagle.

‘The Eagles have been good to us for years, now it’s our time to give back to them. before you net an eagle [in order to weigh it, measure it, or pinion their feather in order to examine them] you have to prepare yourself. Because you can’t show any fear. Keep talking to them. I talk to them all the time, in Iowa, in English.

We told him we’d been to the Woody Guthrie Festival. Victor said, with a smile, ‘I recall I went one year to the fields of plenty. They sang ‘this land is our land. This land is our land.’ Me and the Indians I was with, we never stood up like the rest. Someone next to us asked us why. I said, think of the words, of what you’re singing.’

SAN DIEGO

Tuesday

We flew to San Diego, via Salt Lake City, to stay with friends, Jerry and Diane Rothenberg. I’ll pause here, to give you the backstory to this visit.

In September 2007, I read at the Kurt Schwitters’ Celebration in Ambleside and also at his last built Merz Barn, Chapel Stile, his artwork from the Barn is in a Newcastle-upon-Tyne Art Gallery. Anyhow, Professor Jerome Rothenberg – no wait! Another back story to this, is that I googled poetics and ethnicity, as part of my research into language, roots and indigenous people for my PhD and discovered ethnopoetics and linguistics, the authority and initiator for these fields of study was Professor Jerome Rothenberg.

So, back to the Schwitters’ Festival. I read one night, then went to hear Jerry give a talk and reading the next. I got to chatting with he and Diane about my PhD, his poetry and research, their travels and asked them if they’d seen anything of Cumbria. ‘No’, they said. ‘We haven’t’ Well, it seemed silly to me that they’d come from San Diego to Cumbria and saw only the road between Ambleside and Chapel Stile! I offered to show them round some, on their free day, Monday, before their flight home.

I drove them around Derwentwater, we lunched at Yew Tree Farm, on locally bred and butchered Herdwick lamb; they showed keen interest in farming and the Cumbrian dialect, with its roots in Iceland, Celtic, Anglo Saxon; that the Herdwick sheep came across from Iceland with the Fell ponies 1,000 years ago. I taught them to count sheep in, in Cumbrian ‘yan tyan tethera, methera dick, pethera dick pimp’

Showed them the Neolithic stone circle at Castlerigg. Jerry said to me, why go to America to study and talk with Indians, you have it all here! Cumbrian language and stories! This stuck in my mind on my visit to America. They invited me to stay with them, whenever I was next in America – which happened to be the following summer.

A trip to San Diego became part of the study visit. The poem below came about from my overhearing a conversation between two South American women, and a Japanese woman, crooning to herself:


MOONLIGHT BEACH, ENCINITAS, 16 JULY 2008

in front, the ocean
behind, a small japanese woman
croons to herself
i thought it was 'danny boy', or
a scottish lament

to one side a south american woman is tested
on:

why do we celebrate the 4th of july?
who is the president of the united states
and who is vice president?

in front, the pacific
above, a hazy sun and a
police helicopter

families enjoy the beach
pigeons search for food

what were the original 13 states?

the small, japanese woman dusts
sand from her towel
neatly folds her
beach umbrella

what is the role of the 100 senators?

the ocean rolls in
i swim among surfers and dreams
among children and kelp

the japanese lady leaves
the beach

a group of 'i wish they all could be california girls'
stroll past

boys play beach volleyball
reach up
tall as sky
reach up and
punch the ball
punch the air
punch each other

the girls giggle

whose rights are guaranteed by the first 10 amendments?

and i remember when i was in japan --
looked east and thought

over there is america --
over there is home.


I recall that Jerry was excitedly anticipating the arrival of the proof of his new book, a study of Post Romantic Poetry, he co edited with Jeffrey Robinson, titled, Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three - The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry, which arrived the day before we left. He and Diane showed us around their area, up and down the southern Californian coast with its cliffs and the booming Pacific Ocean. 

They invited poet and lecturer friends from the University of California to dinner; we spent time chatting of poetry on ‘both sides of the Pond’ how it differs, how it’s similar. I told them of my PhD upgrade experience, prior to flying out to America and we discussed the importance of respect – whether of and for humans or golden eagles, the land or other cultures, languages, experience and spirituality.

Next stop, next day, New York, via a delay in Pittsburgh – we missed the Bowery gig …
Thursday NYC – to be continued!