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Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the films based on these, I wouldn’t ever have expected to find myself at an event dedicated to his life and work, but there I was, last Sunday in Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground in the Shire Park, Birmingham.
This large grassy space, enclosed with high hedges of flowering May, was filled with marquees, jousting rings and make-shift stalls and tents, staffed by Hobbits, Elves and Medieval Humans.Unfortunately, my camera batteries were dead on arrival, so I’ve had the make use of photos taken from the Middle-earth Weekend site.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I can be relied on to turn up at any event that offers me an opportunity to talk about my writing and I tend to be open to almost any new experiences - as a writer I can never know what unfamiliar sights or sounds might provide useful material for a future poem or story - so when Chris Morgan, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2009, invited me to read some of my own poems at the annual Middle-earth Weekend, I thought, ‘Why not?’
and as usual, said, ‘Yes, I’d love to!’.
The warmth and brightness of the sunshine after so many weeks of grey cold days somehow added to the illusion of stepping into a film set, where small family groups in ordinary clothing strolled around holding ice creams and cans of pop, mingling with characters from The Lord of the Rings. These included a medieval lord and lady each with their own pet baby dragon which looked and felt extraordinarily life like, almost seeming to purr as I stroked one under its clammy chin.
The poetry recital was programmed for 1.00 in the Performance tent, where four of us delivered our poems to a small audience which seemed to be split into two groups: the enthusiasts who’d found their way there on purpose, and the bemused who only wanted a a cup of tea and a piece of Victoria sandwich. Nonetheless , they all listened politely.
I didn’t have any Tolkein-themed poems, so I’d selected a few that seemed in some way to fit in with a fantasy theme and started off with one which is usually popular, even with people who aren’t particular fans of poetry, Becoming a Seal
It’s a long time since I’ve posted a new ‘poem of the Week’ so here’s another of those I read on Sunday.
After that startled awakening and chase through the woods
bears lumbered almost nightly
into her dreams
but by the time she married, she couldn’t remember
why even the smell of porridge
could scald her tongue.
She has a baby now, and her broken sleep is invaded
by bears again – their coarse dark fur
smelling of resin and fungus.
Sometimes she wakes with honey in her throat
hands as cumbersome as boxing gloves
flat white nails thickened to ebony .
When she slides from the bed
it seems natural as breathing
to pad across the carpet on all fours.
Grey light seeps through loosely woven
nursery rhymes. She unravels undertones of
talcum powder, sweat-damp hair
and hints of her own milk on sleeping breath.
Her baby. Is he hers? He seems so
folded in on his unblemished self
as though he’s tumbled through a crack in time
and she can’t touch him.
I wrote this several years ago and was delighted when it won a place in a Mslexia competition.