Workshop

Your Time Your Place

Poet Grace Gauld led a  day of exploration, taking inspiration from the facts and mysteries of Stonehenge.  Helping to discover times, places,  experiences and environments relevant to our own lives.

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Workshop Review 

The sounds and sights of bonfire night put me in a reflective mood this year, as I travelled home from a wonderfully creative poetry workshop, hosted by LinkUpArts and Kingfisher Poets at Salisbury Arts Centre.

This one-day workshop, funded by Wessex Watermark was facilitated by poet Grace Gauld who works regularly with Kingfishers and explored the lives and heritage of those living in Stonehenge times, along with our personal experiences as 21st Century humans.

Upon arrival I was offered a comforting slice of hot buttered toast which warmed the heart and set the creative juices flowing! Then, it was time to let my pen take me to lands far and near, and allow my mind to be lost in the written word!

Our morning was spent on a ‘virtual’ trip to Stonehenge, exploring artefacts and photographs from the Loan Box which is available for community groups to borrow. To begin with, we each chose an artefact and after studying it carefully, were asked to write down what we believed the item was used for in Neolithic times. I chose a wide-mouthed pottery pot, adorned with many lines and dots, which I guessed to be a flowerpot, but turned out from the accompanying description to be a drinking vessel.

Grace led us through a series of timed exercises, which were an excellent way to get ‘stuck into’ our writing. I had not written any poetry since our workshop with Penny Pepper last year, and do not usually work from visual stimuli. However, it was fascinating to hold the replica artefacts and connect with their history and the lives of those who would have used them, and I soon began to think like a Stone-age woman:

We kneel at the riverbank awaiting our turn.
My mother and the village elders gossiping, laughing.
What news? What news?”
There is nothing new to report – the same thing happens each day –
we work, we cook, collect our daily ration,
Each day, down by the river.

We girls stop bathing and look across the way.
The men are at work,
collecting their nets –
Ready to catch from the river.

At the end of an exhilarating morning the Loans Box was put to one side and after a short break and a sandwich lunch, we took up our pens once again, to explore what ‘home’ means to us.

This time, our stimuli were poems by contemporary writers, (one written by Grace). Strangely, I found myself returning to my theme from the morning, and I realised that rivers and water were in fact a huge part of my own life too:

Weekend water, boats, the river calling,
Horrible Rottweilers send us hurrying along the towpath –
under the bridge
Shouting, calling. Our voices echoing
“Hello? Hello! Who’s there?”

The smell of seaweed. Back in London waking each morning
Off to the park we’d go.
Rush to the pond, feed the ducks,
Then race ahead – ice-cream calling.

Holidays by the sea,
Cold Anglesey sand beneath our feet
Led me to another beach, another park.
Bournemouth, my home.

I thoroughly enjoyed my workshop with Grace exploring the Kingfisher way of working and further establishing the bond between our two groups. Having not visited Stonehenge in person since a child, and rarely taking the time to reflect back creatively on my own life in terms of ancestry and heritage, it was fascinating to discover how important certain ‘forgotten’ places and memories were, in making me who I am today!

By Tam Gilbert

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Poems

They are only sleeping.

Our ancient forefathers came to this land that we now know as home.

Many battles were fought for this precious ground
People from many diverse nations invaded
Each claimed parts of this Island for their people.

Evidence is scattered around us on the plain,
Wonderful weaponry and jewels.
Exquisitely patterned pottery shipped or made here.

Along with glorious gifts came magnificent skills,
Nation learning from nation
Handed down to us with love.

Our ancients are still with us,
Sleeping in the ground we walk upon
Their spirits swirl around in mists, guarding us.

They must be happy to see us all living and working together
Proud their offspring have settled their differences
And spend time searching for them with metal detectors.

Now we must help our offspring
To learn and make ready for the future
To a time when our spirits stand watch.

Lost and found

Can you know the wonder
Of finding  a coin or artefact?
That someone two thousand years ago lost
Hold it in your hands close your eyes and visualise
What that person was like, kind or cruel?

If they got into bother for losing the item
Was it precious financially
Or cheap to make?
Chute stators of gold
Still look as good as they did
when a treasurer buried them.

Buried two thousand years ago
When a glorious King lived among us.
Many people have lost faith
At a certain time
This precious gift will be found again.
It will be restored by an ancient King
Never to be lost again. amen

Josie Smith