I am so pleased to have been asked to participate in this event, not just to read poetry but experience 'an exchange of words, poems and an intimate outdoor performance.'
I hope amongst other subjects to read about urban green spaces, being outside, Stoke, canals, canal boat culture, water....even cats! Yes, cats do live on canal boats. I should know as I live within yards of a canal, lucky me.
I and the other poets will also be asking people to share any poetry they know, and we will be also poetically appreciating the sound and arts installations at the festival. I'm not giving too much away though, except to say that I know it will be an amazing day, and the weather is forecast dry and around 19c for the afternoon. So win win!
I emailed Hereford’s Left Bank Village https://herefordleftbank.com/ never thinking they would let me utilise their lovely courtyard space. I hastily explained that I was a student at Keele University, studying for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I would be giving free Tarot readings in exchange for some written feedback, from which I would create Found Poetry. Somehow it worked. After I had completed my Tarot readings at The Village, having squeezed my campervan into the courtyard between a blacksmith’s demonstration and a stall selling clothes to raise money for refugees (it’s that kind of place), I was informed that although ‘things seemed chaotic here, somehow it always works’. I could say the same about the Tarot, a random selection of six from seventy-eight cards (which also can have a reverse meaning) chosen by a person I have never met before and know nothing about. How can I possibly tell anything about that person, their life, and the choices they have before them? I have no idea. Yet in Hereford as in Stoke-on-Trent almost everyone who had a reading said that it resonated with them, helped them, and they left feeling better about life than they did before. More than that I cannot say, but there is a power in the cards and the reading of them, maybe because they create a space to think. The creativity came from the feedback given and recorded by my lovely friend aka Mooncat, (who because of her occupation had to have a sticker on her photograph), the people I spoke to in the gorgeous venue – not at all chaotic – and the amazing, beautiful and mysterious border country of Herefordshire. At this point it’s fair to make a few comparisons between the two Tarot experiences. I was far more blessed with the weather at Hereford, and the Village is a place that the community visit purely for socialising, eating and drinking and all the other experiences provided in the evening too. Despite the eighty mile drive (the M6 was clear!) I felt quite relaxed; I had already fulfilled the brief at Stoke, which was also a sound learning curve. There were a lot more distractions for people at the Village, which has an air of prosperity. Yet when I held the readings over more than four hours (this time I had a break) it was not the differences I saw in people from the two communities, but the similarities. Social conditions may be slightly different, but the things people are anxious about, and care about, are not. It may be a cliche, but we are all just people under the skin. The poetry on the blog is partly mine, and partly poetry 'found' from the verbal and written feedback form the Tarot recipiets. It is totally anonymous, and photographs have been posted only with permission. Other found poetry (also anonymous) has formed part of my Masters portfolio. Thank you people of Hereford for sharing your leisure time with me, and to the chilled events organisers who accomodated me and my van.
Here I must mention that I knew the area of Hereford and the Welsh borders from when I travelled on business. The folklore and facts about the border of England and Wales (including modern times) is mind-blowing. I have complemented the poetry with images captured as I travelled the borders long after I finished my on-the-road days. (The reasons why belong to a separate blog) It is one of many stupefying co-incidences since deciding to use the Tarot as a creative tool, that I ended up back in Hereford - and that really is the truth.
All Border Country poetry copyright June Palmer
Dilwyn, Ewyas Harold, Llandinabo, also
Llangarron, Llanrothal, Llanveynoe
Welcome to England. Croeso!
The ebb and flow
of border country is shaded dark.
Boundries have shifted,
castles collapsed, and no spark
lights the hop-kiln
yet the church at Kilpeck
seems lit from within by unknown energies.
spreads her fanny like a porn star.
On the south door,
the Green Man is carved.
He has older names - the Wild Hunter,
Lord of the Forest, horned Cernunnos.
Taken high above myself
to see an overview of my life
we both agreed
how easy it would be
to enjoy complacency.
To live the happy retired couples life
of pub lunches and two-some holidays,
champange brunches on Sundays,
I could see what I needed to do,
the depth of it, the simplicity.
Just let go, go with the flow
that takes me back to travels and camps,
The past lives never fully lived.
Once I was a warrior.
Reassured, I can be so again.
I haven’t valued it
The reading told me this,
informed me of what I already knew.
Friends, I haven’t valued you.
Everything has been about family,
not about me
not about the friends I have forgotten.
I have closed myself away,
now it’s time to be open.
To involve myself in life
* Found Poetry
A confluence of history
The tree at Whiteleaved Oak is suffering,
votive offerings of a once-Pagan nation,
its white leaves stilled, under the moon.
I hide in the hem of your skirt
like a young hare.
Author - June Palmer