So, the workshop with writer and author Judith Allnatt at Swinfen Hall yesterday. Having inspired us all with a poem by Caron-Ann Duffy “Warming her pearls” (so no pressure) and an extract from Gogol’s “Dead souls” about objects in a room, we were tasked by Judy to find inspiration in the hall. Imagine a room and some-one sleeping; the room must be that person’s room and the objects tell us about the person; finally, what is that person dreaming about. It did not have to be historical. “Good” I thought, as country houses are not really my thing, but I did see this portrait of an unknown woman which interested me because she does not look like an archetypical English rose type. I thought maybe Spanish. Maybe a poem about Katherine of Aragon making an imaginary visit to the house with Henry VIII? He has not yet tried to divorce her for Anne Boleyn, but she is under great pressure to produce a male heir and has lost several babies.
The weather on Sunday was dreadful, but I did venture into the grounds. The walled garden was winter-dead and a bit of a quagmire sadly. It was too far to see the deer park but I picked this little gem out of the guide “The deer are quite sociable…..however…the large stag is quite possessive of his harem so if he keeps staring at you, just avert your gaze and start to walk away so he knows you are not a threat”
Long story short – I am working a poem about Katherine and a dream sequence in the deer park. I must be slightly mad as “historical poems” are very difficult. It is easy to collapse in to cod (language), clash with cliché, and end up saying something not at all original. Ah well keep on keeping on, so I am. Wish me luck.
Author - June Palmer