April 9, 2018

Ode to Rachel

I’ve blogged before about the importance of poetry– how it can connect us, uplift us, inspire and enrich, or just simply give us pleasure, like an ice cream on a hot day.

I visited a good friend in Wales recently. She lives in a small town bang in the middle of the country. It’s an active community, with pub quizzes, exhibitions by local quilters, a farmers’ market and a thriving Labour Party, of which my friend was, until recently, chair.

We were sitting at her kitchen table chatting, with a crackling log fire and cats for company, when the conversation turned to poetry. A psychotherapist, Rachel is keen on the soul, ritual, authenticity and the value of the dark side in everyone.

The day after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, outraged and with a desire to do something to turn the separatist tide that was about to wash over the country, she took down a handful of poetry anthologies from her bookshelves and head off for town where she sat in the square under a handwritten sign: ‘Free Poetry’.

Within no time people were queuing up to have a poem read to them. And not just the liberal, wealthy elderly folk of which there are many in that particular market town, but all sorts she said. Rachel’s response to severance was, as I saw it, a bid for connection. She did something and for that I hugely admire her.

(I really didn’t think of this when I started this blog, but I happen to be reading one of my poems soon. At the Boekhandel Van Rossum, Beethovenstraat 32, Amsterdam, on Friday April 20 at 8 o’clock, where a few members of the International Writers Collective (I’m one) will be reading their own stuff. It’s free, but you’ll need a bit of cash for the bar.)


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