The Waveney & Blyth Arts writing competition culminated in a poetry reading at the Ferini Art Gallery, host to the ‘Murder of Crows’ Art exhibition. Twenty people gathered to share a meal, view the exhibition and hear the three short-listed poems. From 70 entries it had been difficult to choose only three but finally we made our choice. They were three very different poems but all had impressed us with their technical ability, the images they created in our minds, and some of the phrases they had used.
Rooks, crows and ravens were represented in the short list and writers drew inspiration from nature itself, from paintings and from literature.
The winner was chosen by public vote and the result was very close but Rooks: Where the Yew Tree Shadows Fall by James Knox Whittet, just pipped the post.
Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to our three short-listed poets and to James, our winner.
Thanks must also go to Michaela Barber at the Ferini Art Gallery for hosting and curating the crows art exhibition, [The exhibition ends on 24 September] and for hosting the Arts & Eats lunch. Thanks also to Beth Soule, of Suffolk Poetry Society, who ran an inspirational writing workshop at the Gallery using and reflecting some of the works of art.
We are almost at the end of our 2017 Celebrate programme but don’t forget our AGM on 21st October when we hope to showcase our Crow poems and artworks as we reflect on another successful year for Waveney & Blyth Arts and look forward to new events in 2018.
Here are the three short listed poems:
Rooks: Where The Yew Tree Shadows Fall
Your raucous voices have always been there
from childhood to age as you rise as one
to greet dawn or explode in winter air
when the last rays from the low sun have gone.
You would have called from high, arched beech branches
when baptismal water flowed from my head
and perfumed winds made the dewed bluebells dance
as watered light across the bare fields spread.
You joined in choruses of wedding hymns
that September evening when church bells rang,
leaves, like palms, rustled with your restless wings
and the sea loch mirrored the moonlight’s ring.
You’ll be there where the yew tree shadow falls
when I can’t be awakened by your calls.
James Knox Whittet
How to Dance with Death.
Take a lesson from Crow –
he knows all about it,
delights in it,
devours it for a living.
Death gives him strength
with which to comfort you.
Crow stabs at the heart of death,
pins it down under his kindly claws.
Crow can tell you how to embrace death,
how to make a good life
from its grisly lumps and strands.
Listen to the rattle of his shiny quills.
He will mantle you with his satin feathers.
See the gleam in his leather-trimmed eye –
a tear like a blackened pearl slides down.
Smell the sweet ooze of carrion as it slips
from his metal beak.
Crow will watch your back.
At the time of mourning he dresses for a ball.
Wrapped in a black down cloak,
he waits to hop the danse macabre
with you, his chosen partner.
A Pantoum for Nevermore
After ‘Nevermore’ by Paul Gaugin (1897) and ‘The Raven’, Edgar Alan Poe (1845)
Hungry for the forest’s treasure, burn, destroy, in equal measure.
Claws outstretch, first break the surface, forcing further, gaining purchase
where she, like a mango forming, green and glossy, knew sun’s warming
rays fall on her, innocently. Nevermore to ripen gently.
Claws outstretch to break the surface, forcing further, gaining purchase,
spreading wide ‘til nevermore the dappled leaves can let the ochre
rays fall on her, innocently. Never more to ripen gently,
lying on her side she listens; gossips prattle. Silent raven
spreads its wings ‘til nevermore the dappled leaves let in the ochre
beams primeval. Wings fold closer, body stiffens thinking of her.
Lying on her side she listens; gossips prattle. Silent raven,
hooded eyes, presentment telling, evermore its needs compelling,
screams. Primeval wings fold closer, body stiffens, thinking over
where she, like a mango forming, green and glossy, knew sun’s warming.
Hooded eyes, presentment telling, evermore its needs compelling,
hungry for the forest’s treasure, burns, destroys, in equal measure.