Monday, 2 December 2019

Sins of omission

As we enter the last month of 2019, with a mixture of festive anticipation and uncertainty about what the New Year will bring, I stick doggedly to my resolution to be positively creative. Driven partly for pleasure, partly by guilt about a neglected blog and partly to escape political mayhem. last Saturday I spent the day at a novel writing masterclass at The Guardian. This Sunday it’s the Buzzwords poetry workshop and readings in Cheltenham,  run for many years by poet and academic Dr Angela France. Guest poet Jean Atkin, billed as the Troubadour of the Hills, starts off by giving us a piece of Victorian verse and tells we have five minutes to redact it to create a different poem. “Redact like the Russian report, or Mueller?” I find myself asking. “Absolutely,” comes the reply.

My verse is from a religious poem called ‘Immanence’, written by devout Anglo Catholic author Evelyn Underhill, whose work Mysticism was the most successful of its genre until Aldous Huxley published The Perennial Philosophy in 1946, five years after she died. Words leap out of the lines, conjuring an irresistible image of another devout Englishwoman, famous for shoes and rural childhood misdemeanors.

Theresa May’s Naughtiness
Little things, my feet,
Amidst the delicate wheat
That springs triumphant.
I dwell in power,
not broken or divided,
I come to flower
at the threshold [of number 10?]

So much for escaping politics, and a lesson in how removing words can dramatically change an author’s sense and meaning. Brings back memories of those years at Kings College London, and the MSc in Construction Law. Time to get back to the novel, not to mention writing the verses for this year's Christmas card....

Taking a coffee break and enjoying the view from The Guardian offices

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