So said one sceptical lady when I said I was offering free Tarot card readings. On 22nd March 2019 my campervan was parked on the courtyard of Stoke Library www.stoke.gov.uk/libraries and the plan was for me to sit inside to give the readings. I hastily explained that I was a student at Keele University, studying for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I also explained that I ran a Community Creative Writing Group based in Hanley. All I wanted in return for the reading was a short, written note about the experience. Meanwhile, my friend and fellow poet Gabby was talking to the market traders and asking them for their experiences and stories involving the Tarot. From this I would create 'Found Poetry' and hopefully be inspired to write about the local community. As it happens, some of the feedback given was so eloquent (or accidently rhymed) that some of the poems were 'there'. I think Gabby and I were both surprised at how many people had come across ‘the cards’ and had some understanding of what they are about. Whilst the Tarot can be used for divination, it is as much about allowing people to contemplate themselves and their situation. The cards may offer a pathway through difficult times. Often we ignore our inner voice, sticking doggedly to a path or behaviour which is unhelpful. There are indicators of good news too, and reassurance that we can turn things around. In any event, the people of Stoke-on-Trent were up for it! Five hours and fifteen readings later I was exhausted but happy. The weather that day was incredibly bleak and cold. Maybe that’s why the readings were so popular; a grey Friday morning, a huge almost-empty courtyard dwarfing a small collection of market stalls, and in the middle a bright orange van offering something for free. In addition, the warm and smiley Gabby brightening up the traders day – who doesn’t like a chat and to be asked to tell a story about themselves? As one local author said ‘us Stokies have a lot to say’. I am not local, but hailing from Liverpool I can probably say the same! It was an eye-opening but uplifting day. The people I met put their trust in me, and there is no greater feeling so long as humility and responsibility goes hand in hand with that euphoria. Thank you, the library and market-day community of Stoke-on-Trent for making Friday 22nd March such a warm and welcoming experience. The following poem is is my small tribute to the people on that day, the rest of the documented content was created by the community.
A Psalm to the People (of Stoke-on-Trent)
This is a psalm to the people of Stoke
in their skin of many colours.
A psalm to the British springtime;
cold grey skies, the wind cutting,
horizontal rain head-butting
market stalls and library goers,
the van selling oatcakes and tea.
This is a psalm to the lady who waited;
her white hair dyed pink and baby blue.
A psalm to a young girl of eighteen,
wondering what the future holds;
she drew a card and told me, she was
six months pregnant. Two of Swords.
This is a psalm to the people of Stoke
with troubled sons and tough love.
A psalm to a woman fighting for her kids,
fighting her breakdown via the gym
and her wisdom to breathe; step back.
Drawn from the pack: Seven of Wands.
This is a psalm to the market traders
standing in the wind, cupping fags.
A psalm to Potters and Valiants, for
many were valiant, and their people made pots
and mined for coal. This market now their lot
they are Kings, Queens, Magicians, Wisemen;
Strength, Justice, Rebirth. The World.
This is a psalm to the people of Stoke,
jokers and believers both, who told me their stories.
A psalm to those who believe in magic;
in community, in football, and in themselves.
A psalm to closed shops; to empty shelves made for ware.
To a pint of good beer. The Fool: ~Potential
Thank You J, love Laura x
To come across this lady,
and in my lunch-break
be invited into a wonderful space
and have my Tarot cards read.
Not what I was expecting from today,
but it shows that life is unpredictable
and full of magic.
This idea to get out into the community
with the people.
I have an extra sliver of hopefulness
which wasn’t there before.
Thank you x
I needed to wait, for some reason.
Now I know why!
Everything was understood;
I feel better for meeting this special lady.
I recommend it.
Feeling good at the end of my experience.
Tarot from the male perspective*
The summer sorceress settles me in her nest;
She explains her elemental focus.
The joss-stick I can almost smell represents fiery Wands.
The chalice, water, Cups.
The blade air - Swords.
The pentacle for Earth.
She shuffled and cut the deck.
Then asks me to choose which half she should deal from.
I chose the one on my left.
Then the thought flits threw my head,
that left is the sinister side;
but left is the hand I hold the hound with.
I’m cannot remember every card,
do they mess with my mind?
I think the first card was the Prince of Wands,
Then The Lord.
Strong father figure,
horned like Herne.
Then the two of cups.
A deep relationship.
Me and my twin?
The Four of Pentacles.
A earthy worker trying to open a trunk.
Money or hard work.
The Five of Pentacles.
A lady wearing a belt of pentacles,
Horrified by what she sees.
Five a number of crisis,
Final card the Eight of Pentacles.
A blacksmith hard at work,
making metal pentacles.
maybe me, me and my twin
maybe my mum, or brother and his mate
will have some money or work troubles.
After hard work we will triumph.
*received by email after the reading
A Slideshow Tribute to the Market Traders
Author - June Palmer