Can we learn wisdom watching insects now,
or just the art of quiet observation?
Creatures from the world of leaf and flower
marking weather's variation.
From Summer of the Ladybirds by Vivian Smith
Inspired by the fascination of three year old twins, I am writing a poem about ladybirds ... and life.
Poetry is a genre re-discovered for me and I am diving into it with the bliss of the uninitiated. I have no concern for rules or meter, for rhymes or a formal dance of A,B and C. I am simply riding a wave of naivety, writing about the things I observe and think in what seems like a poem kind of way. It's glorious and rather childlike and, based on the very intense interaction the twins had with the ladybirds we found on a patch of stinging nettles, probably the perfect springboard into poetry.
There are excellent books about writing poetry, top of my list is Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled. I know I will enjoy it because I listened, riveted, to a long discussion about poetic form he had with Professor Jonathan Bate. Who knew a subject apparently as dry as a stick could be, frankly, so juicy! In time his book will, I know, open a door for me into a magic land of metre, rhyme and verse. And I am looking forward to that day immensely. But for me this year of writing, (which I started on my birthday) is about finding confidence in my own voice as a writer, coming back to how it sounds, its nuances, its own rhythm, the things that make it laugh and the circumstances when it adopts a minor key. This sounds so obvious - to have one's own voice as a writer, or indeed in life - and yet how easy it is to be tossed and turned by the influence of others and to lose what it is you have to say. My plan is to collect together the year's poems and put them 'out there' in some form.
Although I am very deliberately not reading about writing poetry, I am reading poetry. It's an eclectic, or perhaps more accurately, a random selection! I'm dipping into things and not sticking with one writer for more than a poem or two. I'm reading poetry for the pleasure of it and not looking for rules or influence. The Poetry Foundation website is a great online resource for this kind of poetry pond dipping. Today, searching on 'ladybird', I was offered two poems. The first, Vivian Smith's poem, quoted above, draws reflectively on the intimate relationship we have with this tiny, magical insect. And then who could forget;
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
and your children all gone:
All except one
And that's little Ann,
And she has crept
Under the warming pan.
attributed to Mother Goose and perhaps one of the most beloved poems ever.
All of the wonderful photos on this blog are by Andrew Holman