Sunday, 6 September 2020

Live Session 4th September ~ Forgetfulness

Loving Lou's doodle date... such a cheerful flower! Now I arrived slightly disheveled at the meeting today having been brought stuttering to my desk by an insistent poem after my morning graveyard cycle. It simply had to be written... here it is:

Lazy Ghosts
by Bev Schofield

The lazy spirits linger long
in leafy graveyards left,
wait for copulating couples
whose weekend drunken dalliance
does drop their guard.

Among the raunchy groans,
ghostly whispers weave unheeded.
Weeds and trees wave warning
as the dead ones slip among their breath,
reincarnate as children of whom people say
how strange… how unlike their mum or dad…

The wiser ones remain as trees that take no heed
of huff and grunt, of drunken fornication.
Up, up, up they grow, for lover take instead the breeze
to hear the air of nearby seas, 
occasionally shake heir autumn leaves 
on a world gone mad.

Would one not happier be as one of these?

the name of the author is  first to go

Inspiration for our first writing prompt came from the Bill Collins poem "Forgetfulness"

Stunning pieces as ever and these have been promised an airing on the blog .... soon... meanwhile here are some new Msasas that were being picutured in Zimbabwe on the very same day we were discussing them in Water Story:

Our second piece of writing took prompt from Ezra Pound's piece:

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

These days
by Giovanna MacKenna (*after Ezra Pound)

Sometimes I long for the quiet days
to be the mouse moving silently
invisible through the roar around it
There is so much noise now, so
many warriors shaking the grass
raising their spears, wide mouths
raging words down on those below
There are so many wars being fought
with little thought and much fervour
I long to slip through the tall golden
stems, without a rustle or a squeak

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Live Session 21st August ~ What matter?


These sessions have become a haven of incisive and sensible conversation in a new reality that saps our creative resources. We're having to reinvent ourselves, while all too many institutions insist on reiterating the processes of the old. Giovanna's example summed it up, her kids school insisting on the children wearing tie and blazer when these items are not easily washable, therefore presenting an ideal virus vector.

Our writing prompt came from the Kay Ryan poem Gal├ípago that you'll find in her anthology "The Best of It". I'm afraid I haven't managed to find a copy of it online but you can enjoy some of her poems at this link.

Lou recommended a heartening project called Teach the Future


Yes Water Story writers, at last we are getting OUT! Onto the water... email Bev if you'd like to be added to the list for this trip and arrangements will follow. For social distancing reasons you must please make your own arrangements for getting to Tarbet; be aware there will be stringent measures in place to protect some of our more vulnerable writers.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Live session 10th August ~ Slim Boat, look the other way


Such conversations were had today, different perspectives on the world changes we are witnessing as we creep out of lockdown. Come out? Stay at home? Like shared guilty secrets we discovered that most of us actually like peace and control of our secluded lives... with this piece Sheila took us swimming in Loch Ard - I don't have a pic so here is the Firth of Clyde:

I stand looking across the still surface

by Sheila Buchanan

I stand looking across the still surface

I feel I can walk on the water

It is so smooth and untroubled

No ripples or splash.

But better to enter the medium

Feel the shock of the cold

See the sunshine enter from above.

As I slipstream face down

The light is split into shards

Vectors pointing to the apex below

I assume the nature of a slim boat

Crossing the boundaries of natures’ curves

Balance is all.

Our writing prompt today was an attempt to maintain calm, avoid inhaling others' germs, sidestep suffering, find another route....

look the other way

Lou reckoned she'd been looking the other way for so long she has a crick in her neck!

Sheila Buchanan's "Look the other way"

Look the other way and 

Don’t reflect what used to be;

Note what people are doing well

Not the lack of reponsibility.

Let the sunshine in to a spotless mind

No thunder clouds to a trouble a fevered cranium.

Pragmatism and a mindful approach are the tools of the trade.

Keep in touch but don’t touch

Share and air your concerns to absolve your anxiety.

A day at a time 

Don’t let the anxiety be worse that the virus

Look at what an amazing person you are

Life is always blurred at the edges.

To finish we drew various prompts from Cathie Sandstrom's poem

Standing Up in a Slim Boat 

which is, after all, what life feels like at the moment...

In the slim boat of each day

by Giovanna MacKenna

In the slim boat of each day

I travel the lengths of my life

Finding the going rough and tiring,

I forget I am fortunate to be carried

Around my craft splash others, those

who retch salt water from their throats

NB Water Story...

Sessions are moving back to Fridays, starting next Friday 21st August

Keep an eye on the Water Story Schedule page

Monday, 27 July 2020

Live session 27th July ~ Auden, silently and very fast

Sheila's been making blankets for the homeless... this is her 4th! We are still not getting out though we had a touch of canal nostalgia with this shot of Peccadillo in their programme opener:

Our writing prompt today came from a W.H. Auden poem - The Fall of Rome

silently and very fast

However Lou found a much better Auden poem that more closely echoes the societal angst of the covid paradigm... here it is:

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Silently and very fast
by Sheila Buchanan

Silently I enter the loch with little splash.  I see the water ripple about me marking my entry spot.  I take on the eyes of a water fly and see everything at water level.  The vista is silent but rich in detail.  Alongside me are other swimmers and we set off slow and deliberate feeling the water slide over our skin as we move further and further across the loch stopping occasionally for the silent view.

The other joy in my life has been cycling steadily along the canal tow paths passing by the clusters of lilies and the sedate flotilla of swans. their increasingly large cygnet nursery having an afternoon nap beak under wings and under the watchful eye of their attentive parents.  My joy is watching the water flow silently along reflecting an open sky.  At the lock entry the water falls fast and causes some waves on the canal which drifts silently along.  A lasting picture is of the heron sheltering under the leafy branches watching my world as I watch his. 

My life is enriched by my indulgence of being in and beside the water. The water is the mirror of my soul.  

Monday, 20 July 2020

Live Session 20th July ~ Grrrrrrrout!

Inspiration for today's session came from a predictive text error Lou had, get out being changed to grout. How appropriate - getting out but somehow still holding the tiles together. Our writing prompt was taken from neil Astley's second anthology, Being Alive, which all too pertinently follows Staying Alive. And this is where we find ourselves, needing to be alive now we've stayed alive... but we really need to grrrout!

Great conversations were had as always, one topic been the difficulty for deaf people that face masks present - several of us have realised that most of us use a measure of lip reading to follow conversation. Lou has discovered these SMILE MASKS that are very much in demand.


by Kay Ritchie


gir outta ma way
gir outta ma face
gir out’n’about
gir outta the house
stay alive   be alive
but stay away from me
keep your distance
your 2 metres
stop sneaking up
scudding past
making me
nervy   tetchy   jittery  
‘cause I’ve been
wrapped up like a parcel &
don’t feel ready to
peel off the paper   undo the knots
I’ve been curled & coiled & cloaked &
don’t want to be unbuttoned or
tangled in your hair
I’m feeling feral   ferocious  
so beware
gir outta ma way

Monday, 13 July 2020

Live Session 13th July ~ Greta Thunberg & Yowann Byghan

Easdale Island was the host location for our session today in which we discovered the extraordinary Cornish poet Yowann Byghann who lives on Seil Island. We drew inspiration from his poem:

The Black Isle (click the link to visit his website - this and several poems here )

Conversations and feelings were deep this morning and Yowann's words wash about me still with the remarkable writing that was shared after our timed writing prompts. We started the day with the prompt

world crisis 

inspired by a BBC radio airing of a "Seriously..." episode:

Greta Thunberg, a moving radio reading of her trip across america. She is stunned to discover the world's alacrity in dealing with pandemic when the global warming crisis is killing so many more people, but our focus was more on this teenager's discovery of her unassailable vocation in life. Calmly unaffected by fame or threat, she brings the plight of our planet into shocking focus with her unique personality. We can but dream of finding the steady kind of paths of our own that manifest out own gifts and personalities so completely.