Monday, 27 October 2014

I always dreamt of flight

In an immediate sense I have my mother to thank for the inspiration for the poem below. It was her mention of the theme "flight" for a poetry group that set me to thinking about different meanings of the word flight and putting pen to paper (or more accurately cursor to screen) to create this.

I am sure she won't mind me saying though, that beyond that initial word, the real inspiration for this comes from my contact with my students at St Chad's Sanctuary: people who, have known the worst nightmares of flight, but who, I hope, can still dream of soaring with the birds. Once again, I trust that they will excuse my attempts to speak of an experience I can not begin to imagine.

I always dreamt of flight

On grass, or concrete, or sandy beach
Against the solid ground beneath
Eyes open
Squinting from the sun
Or closed
Turned inwards on a dream
I always dreamt of flight

I knew
That I could soar and circle with the birds
And drift like wispy clouds
Across a bright blue sky

In childhood games of fantasy
Gazing skywards
Dreaming of infinity
If I could ask
A granted wish of just one thing
My chosen super power
I would not hesitate
I always dreamt of flight

I knew
That I would swoop and swerve and dive
And glide with silent majesty
Across a deep blue sky

And as I grew
I knew
Never would I soar and circle
Like the birds
Nor swoop and swerve and dive
But Still
Alone in quiet moments
Looking up
To the endless realm of skies
I sometimes dreamt
Of flight

To drift like wispy clouds
And glide with silent majesty
To hide from this reality
In an infinity of blue

As skies flare red
And thick black smoke
The fragile wings of birds
Their hallowed, haunting song
By metal monsters
Who hum a tune of

The longed-for, dreamt-of, promised
In the urgency of anguish
Amid the acrid fear which clings
With unforgiving tenacity
To bloodied feet 
And to hidden memories

No soaring wings or deep blue skies
In this my flight
Which did not match
The patterns 
which not so very long ago
Had swirled before 
My childish eyes

No swooping free, no swirling dives
No soaring, circling paradise
No hiding
From this
The harsh reality of our lives

This childhood dream
Which found a strange fulfilment
In a living nightmare
As huddled, shivering,
I cannot help but wonder
Is this some kind of irony?

I had always dreamt of flight

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Question of Audience

So once again my blog has sat neglected for almost a month. Amongst other distractions, this time round, are several blog posts for another blog to which I contribute.

I call them blog posts, but the one I wish to reflect on was not originally written as such. It started life as a letter.  I was against military action in Iraq (no surprise there, then) and horrified that Archbishop Justin Welby spoke out in favour in the House of Lords. So I wrote to him.

As an afterthought, (and partly because it said on his website that he probably wouldn't read it), I posted it online. I was initially unsure whether it was a good idea but have since decided it was probably more effective as a blog post than as a letter. It certainly generated more reflective responses; and with something like 18 shares on facebook, it was the closest I have ever come to going viral.

It created an interesting perspective for the ongoing correspondence.

My original letter was definitely written with the Archbishop, or at the very least his secretaries, in mind. It was addressed to him and intended for him. The reply, from his secretary was also written without a wider audience in mind: but having shared the letter, it seemed only fair to share the reply.

But that isn't the end of the story: I knew I wanted to challenge the reply: but in writing back, this time I was acutely aware of a dual audience. Yes, I was addressing the correspondence secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I could no longer pretend that I wasn't also writing to those who had read my first letter. Even if by now, they had drifted off to other concerns, theoretically at least I was writing for an audience other than the one I was directly addressing. Whether or not they read it, is secondary to my knowing that they might.

It left me reflecting on the question of audience: who do we write and speak for, and how often is there a duality in our intended audience? What changes when the message we are writing / speaking is not intended for those we are addressing directly, but for others who might overhear? Is there a difference if the wider audience is intended at the time of writing, or only thought about afterwards? What happens when something that is genuinely intended for one audience is read or heard out of context by another?

Is writing a blog post about writing blog posts a bit weird? Probably. But this experience also left me thinking about this blog, about what I write and why I write it.

I think, primarily, I write it for me. I have never been any good at keeping a diary, but since beginning this venture I have found it a useful way to distil some of my thoughts, to reflect on experiences in a way I think is both helpful and healthy.

But to say it is entirely personal wouldn't be completely honest. The knowledge of its potentially public nature certainly effects some of what I write and how I write it; and although I think I am mainly doing it for myself, I have to admit I would be disappointed if I knew I was my own only reader and I genuinely appreciate occasional comments which suggest it is not just for me. This blog has a dual audience too.

So please keep reading. It is written for me, but also for you.