Writing Between the Worlds

Pagan Soc LogoOn Saturday the 12th of April UCLAN Pagan Society hosted a full day event called Writing Between the Worlds led by writer, storyteller and teacher, Kevan Manwaring. The first part involved combining Bardic and Shamanic practices with creative writing; encountering a guide, visiting the Otherworld, receiving a gift and returning, then journeying to meet the British god Nodens. After each journey we recorded our experiences.

In the second part all the workshop participants performed their work supported by local poets, storytellers and singers. During his headline performances Kevan recited poems based on Tam Lin and Taliesin. He told a story featuring a man with a portable gateway to the Otherworld set outside the Black Horse in Preston, and a magical tale about The White Horse of Uffington, which was the highlight of the night.

To read my full review please visit Pagan Soc’s website: http://uclanpagsoc.weebly.com/1/post/2014/04/writing-between-the-worlds.html

Stag Returns

Antlers, the Harris Museum, PrestonTo this valley of forgotten bones
from oak covered swamp through carr and marsh
a stag returns to drink at the river.
From the dockland’s basin stones
he sees the alterations of her course,
his reflection strange in flat, still water-
antlered head held high, mighty tines lightning-like,
eyes aglow with the spirit of the Boreal forest.
With him he brings the hunt- the mad ones,
the lost ones, shapeshifter gods whose bones
have been buried in our landscape again and again.
A blast on a horn, horse and hound or gun mean nothing
in his Otherworldly eyes- to hunt the stag you must become him.

Riversway Dockland

Fairy Procession

Hear, oh, hear
The passing bell, fear
The midnight toll on the corpse road drear

Heed our chant
Avert your glance
From the spectral procession of Fairyland

For fates are we
Who the spirit paths keep
Between this world and mystery.

~

Year by year
We carry the bier
Down this avenue long and drenched in tears

With a fairy corpse
Whose withered form
And dew drenched face you would see as your own

Then mad would be,
Insanely flee
From the terror of death to its untimely sleep.

~

Hear, oh, hear
The passing bell, fear
The midnight toll on the corpse road drear

Heed our chant,
Avert your glance
From the spectral procession of Fairyland

For fates are we
Who the spirit paths keep
Between this world and mystery.

*This poem is based on the legend of Penwortham Fairy Funeral, which originally took place on Church Avenue on Castle Hill.
** The form of the poem and some of its wording are borrowed from the ‘Voices of Unseen Spirits’ in Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Act IV.

Long-tailed Tits

On a day of sun and dim mist
they strike up a band in the sky
and take me by their twirling steps
where happiness is reverenced
and joy is kind. I venerate
their humble nests, arrayed from moss
and spider silk, a feathered down
to keep their young warm and mothered,
safe from the crows. I venerate
the goodly ones from rainbow plains
of ancestral skies. I venerate
the family whose memories
of pain feed their fragile delight.

Workhouse, Whittle, Birchwood 011 - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This a photo taken in Whittle Wood beside Mill Brook in Penwortham where I saw the long-tailed tits. I didn’t take a photo of them because it didn’t feel right.

Hole in the Sky

Over the moon and down through the hedgerows
we opened a hole in the sky.
All the birds fell.
The man with binoculars
packed up his omen
and tended their sorrowful plight.

Over the moon and down through the hedgerows
we opened a hole in the sky.
All the clouds fell.
The girl ticking boxes
recited their names
as they moistened her cloud-spotter’s guide.

Over the moon and down through the hedgerows
we opened a hole in the sky.
All the stars fell.
The man with the telescope
left his observatory
and buried their indomitable light.

Over the moon and down through the hedgerows
we opened a hole in the sky.
All the dead fell.
The man with the weapons
gave up his guns
to the cenotaph’s hollows and cried.

Cotton Workers Return to the Mill

Fence blown down, Penwortham Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mill cannot be contained by its walls.
Wind tears down the panelling-
barbed wire snaps, softwood slats flatten
which kept us out and held it in.

We gather at blocked windows and doors,
weavers forced from our cottages,
hair clasped back, clutching our shawls,
aprons tight over frocks and blouses.

Crofters and yard workers join us,
odours of bleach thick on their overalls,
barefooted spinners, piecers and scavengers,
knock-kneed children weary and tearful.

On the echo of a bell something stirs,
steam engines gear, spinning mules rumble
and roll across oil-slick floorboards, shuttles launch,
cylinders card clouds of cotton dust.

Looking back on choking hours
lost to the clash of warp and weft,
sweeping beneath the empire’s thunder,
piecing together its broken threads

we recall days of lock outs, picket lines,
strikes, fighting like suffragettes,
how the mill defied all its walls
and we were never contained by it.

It rolls back into dereliction.
We doff our caps and let down our hair.
Wind roves breaking barbed wire’s ambit.
Our voices serenade the unrestrainable air.

Penwortham Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This poem was previously published as ‘Mill Scene, After the Gale’ and has been redrafted following critique from North West Poets.

Yellow Iris Planting

lornasmithers:

Link to my blog post about the Friends of Greencroft Valley’s first planting session this year. We’re hoping to receive around 150 plugs from South Ribble Borough Council in the next few weeks so if you live in or around Penwortham and would like to get involved please let me know.

Originally posted on FRIENDS OF GREENCROFT VALLEY:

Celandine

Spring has come to Greencroft Valley. The banks of the stream are covered with celandine.  Wild garlic is pushing up to carpet its usual areas. Hawthorn, elder, hazel and sycamore are coming into leaf.

Today we had our first planting session for the wildflower meadow. Last year we planted a small area of wildflowers approximately 10m by 3m at the top of the green. This year we are hoping the whole strip of green granted to us by the council, which is 10m by 50m, will be filled with flowers, providing an important source of food for bees and butterflies.

Yellow Iris, Wikipedia Commons

Yellow iris is a native plant which favours damp soils and marshy areas and it flowers between May and July. Its name derives from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who was seen as the messenger between the gods and earth. It is often known as yellow flag because of…

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