I’m back to my old habits of late-night blogging today and I suspect most of you will be reading this on Monday morning. I’ve had a better week than last week health-wise, although I didn’t really start eating properly again till Wednesday. I’ve done two Read Regional events this week – one in Gateshead on Monday afternoon, with a lovely group, who were really a dream audience, very engaged and astute, and then on Thursday another Read Regional event in Hull, again with a great audience and a lovely librarian.
I decided to stay over in Hull rather than doing my usual thing of hacking back home through the night, as I was reading in Lancaster the next day at Lancaster Spotlight. Spotlight is one of my favourite events – it’s the first place that ever paid me to read poetry, and you never quite know who is going to get up on the open mic. I was reading with Ron Scowcroft and Rachel McGladdery. I always enjoy Ron’s poetry, and it was nice to hear some of his new work. I haven’t seen Rachel for ages, and again, I’ve always loved her work, but to me it felt like the new poems had really moved up a couple of gears. The discovery of the night was Kriss Foster – a comedian/musician who was just fantastic – very funny and entertaining. I think I remember someone saying he is doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, so if you get a chance to see him, go! The open mic slots were a really high standard, and in fact the Sunday Poet this week, Jonathan Humble was one of the people who performed on the Open Mic. He read this week’s Sunday Poem on the Open Mic and I managed to nab him and get permission to post it up this week.
I should say first of all that the lovely Helen Ivory has published a slightly shorter version of this poem up at Ink, Sweat and Tears, a great online magazine which is well worth checking out.
A Happy Ending For Petrologists
By Jonathan Humble
A pebble sat upon a beach and thought, as would a stone,
Of whether in the Universe it was a soul alone.
For it could see no evidence to otherwise disprove
That rocks had not the wherewithal to think or talk or move.
And there with countless coloured stones, all smooth and weatherworn,
Supressed its angst, lay motionless, stayed quiet and forlorn.
Through summers and through winters, it endured its solitude;
In pebbly reflection, existentially it stewed.
It watched the sun, it watched the stars, endured the rain and snow.
It contemplated life and death until it felt quite low.
In sad and sorry state it grew despondent day by day;
For company it yearned more than this poem can convey.
And as its hopes diminished with each wave that crashed the shore,
It worried that it might be quite alone forever more.
Until it sighed aloud and solitude came to an end;
A fellow pebble turned and smiled and asked to be its friend.
I really liked this poem when I heard it on Friday – you all probably know my weakness for poems with souls in them. I also think this poem has something of the air of a Stevie Smith poem – it is playful and light, and has a childlike rhythm to it, but I think there is also something else at work on another level. I found it funny and oddly moving at the same time when I heard it, although I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why! I do love the last line though, and the galloping rhythm of the line ‘It watched the sun, it watched the stars, endured the rain and snow’. I think there is a bit of the spirit of Emily Dickinson in this poem as well.
Next week I’m running a voluntary workshop in a prison, which I’m really looking forward to, running my Young Writers workshop, and hopefully getting back to some running now I’m feeling better.