Monday, 24 August 2009

Poetry Day - The Parsonage 'Up Close'

Poets Jane Commane and Char March ran a poetry day at the museum on Friday 21 August, capturing poetic responses from a wide range of visitors. On arrival at the museum, visitors were given a poetry pack with prompts for each of the various rooms and a magnifying glass with which they could investigate forgotten areas of the Parsonage, looking for marks in the building's fabric or traces left by it's inhabitants. Jane and Char then worked with visitors to record some of these observations and work them into new poems at the end of the day. They also helped visitors to create their own Bronte-style little books filled with memories of their visit.

Jane and Char are still working on their poems, but these are just a couple of their responses, inspired by comments from the public, at the end of a vibrant and busy day at the museum:

Everything so small -
rooms alone, piano playing
red revealed under treacly floorboards
red with blue in decadent needlework
(yet very plain indeed).

So small these beds -
him, her, feet, figures and those hands
leaving bobbin and thread and china with tea gone cold,
instead cracking the spine of a journal
beige paper's sparkle for beyond.

So small this practiced hand -
this ink echo, though it spills out
for the expanse of the moors beyond
heroic travels for the islanders
in a chest-of-drawers ship on rag-rug seas

So small these rooms -
and modest enough for the imaginings
cast into the heather's lonesome stretch
beyond the wallpaper's blooms,
candle-lit, dancing up and down the walls,

and so small these -
the spectacles and needlework
when lost out on the moors
and these many eyes
and those two sets of eyes

Everything so small -
but the vastness of the echo
sings in the whispers of rain and wind

- Jane Commane -

This Home is a Well-Worn Book
Covers creased with handgrime,
soot, dog-hair - corners
turned down lovingly. That familiar
creak on the stair, turn
of the clock's key, slide
of the sash to shut out
the owl-talk, close smoke
and that call from the moor.

- Char March -

Weren't their lives all about death?
Well, that graveyard's a spit from the window
(poor Tabby has only moved over the wall),

so it lived within, around, about,
a funny sort of neighbour with a habit
of intruding often and uninvited,

making themselves at home, taking a chill
off the fire, in the bed, taking their fill
in the first fevers and fit-starts of discomfort

But no, death was all about their lives,
so the urge was to throw open the window
that's gone stiff and easeless through winter,

spring coming let outside-in, and to move with it,
to prove and test the tight path through the heather
and scrub that's been given you to walk,

to use the hours to un-blank the pages -
that's the triumph, the photo finish
in the breakneck race of life versus

that old scarecrow neighbour

in the churchyard that overflows the watercourse with corpses.

- Jane Commane -

This House is a Looking-glass
the sisters only just out
of the reflection.
The stone floors grained with
sermons and laudanum,
Byronic heroes and moor-peat
off their soles.
Their souls laying down layers
of passion in tiny careful script
the insect-pens scrabbling
from their hive-brain.

- Char March -

More poems and photos from the day to follow soon....

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