Poetry Out Loud

Last night I took part in a virtual open mic night hosted by performance poet, blogger and generally creative mother, Stephanie Arsoska. The thought behind it was that as Poets with Children we don’t really get much of an opportunity to go out to actual open mic nights to perform our work – but in this time of virtual everything, why should that mean we have to miss out? So there were five of us: Stephanie in Scotland against a professional-looking white wall, sipping a glass of something exciting; Ellie in a bathroom in Poland among her mother’s washing; Helen, surrounded by coves and candles, also in Scotland and also with wine (Scotland is the place to be, clearly); Annie in a comfortable looking chair, who almost didn’t make it due to technical hitches and me, with unwashed hair, eating curry. And so we read poetry, not sure if anyone was watching, but having a lovely time listening to each other and discussing whether poetry needs to be spoken, or read, or both.

I read my poem about my daughter’s first word and one about a sweltering night with wakeful baby. I also read a previously unseen poem, written at a time when it looked like I might never be a Poet with Children. Here it is:


I set a bush on fire
I spoke to it at length
but there was no staff
No quest or commission

Just my lame
stumbling tongue.

I built a ladder to the sky
and lay down at the bottom rung
but there were no angels
travelling serenely up and down

Just a cold, hard stone
for a pillow.

I stood in a river, hip deep,
but you would not wrestle.
I locked myself in prison cells
I tore curtains, released doves.

I left the door ajar
just wide enough for an angel

but there was no child.

Just a voice that told me
that You Are
Always, forever, everywhere,
burning, flaming, shining.

You stripped me bare
till there was nothing but glory.
So here I stand – unique
and highly favoured,
beautiful and loved.

I will listen.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2009


PS For anyone who was watching last night, the poem “Easter Wings” that I referred to is by George Herbert.


Guest Poem: Trebarwith Strands

Remember Skeletons at Midnight? It was for my multi-talented friend Anita, whose wonderful poetry inspired me to write my own. As I am offline for a bit while on holiday, she has very kindly provided a guest poem which she wrote in answer to Stay at Home. Enjoy!

Trebarwith Strands

I pack myself away
As I turn off
My phone.
Then, spilling out into field and sky.
We unstitch,
We undo.

The sea salt air
Whispers between us,
Cleans us,
Of the arguments that live
In houses.

An illness, mild and barely there,
Anchors us to canvas, in place.
We hear the wind, we see the moon
We talk of the wind, and we talk of the moon.

The tight threads of us unravel.
Our strands, loose, in the wind,
Weave new patterns between us.

In the day, the boys grow, faster.
They run and run, until there is no
More field.
Then sit, precariously, on gates
And talk to cows.
In the evening, they wonder at
Clouds, spread with a knife across
Blazing skies.

The sea salt waves
Wash between us,
Freeing us,
From the time that lives
In houses.

Illness keeps us small;
We take idle walks.
We make tiny trips.
We keep little company.
We make miniature meals of fudge and cream.

For a whole week I am lost.
There is no signal here,
No way to be found,
No fragments to update.
I forward roll, I play bat and ball,
I sit and watch the boys play.
I see them,
Their strands, loose in the wind,
Weaving new patterns.

At night, I listen
As the wind, gently,
Tugs at the threads of the tent.
My strands unravel, but
I am not lost.
Just re-connected.

Anita is a freelance artist/writer/mum/tutor depending what day/time/event it is. She lives a precarious life trying to balance all of them, but still finds time to sell things on eBay to fund her handbag addiction collection. www.anitawadsworth.co.uk

One year (almost) gone

A few more weeks and my little girl will be one. She is working hard on learning to walk, is climbing on top of everything and I am sure that by the time her birthday rolls around she will be looking at baby-hood in the rear view mirror as she speeds on towards toddler-hood and from there to world domination.

Contemplating her next move

Contemplating her next move

One year gone

First summer closing, streets returning
from languor-filled summer spaces
to the frantic thorough-fare
that busy generations share
now with hopeful hearts and faces
new start, new dawn, new time of learning

First summer gone and the world is turning
from sunshine lingering and delaying
sharing evenings with the moon
back to early bedtime soon
chill on the wind and colours greying
so nature keeps on turning and returning

Your first summer gone and you are learning
to stand, speak, walk, never slowing,
expert now, you’ve seen it all
one year gone, now back to fall
I mustn’t, cannot, stop you growing
As you run on, never turning or returning

Me and my girl

Me and my girl