“Here is a place where you will find a beating heart, echos from a soul, an indomitable strength of spirit. It often expresses itself in iambic or trochaic rhythms; sometimes pentametric, sometimes tetrametric. Here a ballad, there a rondeau redouble or even a free wheeling verse. It speaks of diverse perspectives on life; of children and grandchildren; of life, the universe and everything; of politics; of love, loss, war and peace, sustainability and social justice. There may even be the odd rhyme. Eventually, you might be on your way to understanding the writer and the poet a little better. It would be nice to think you did”
Firstly, I would like to apologise that the menu links (Commentaries-Links-Music-Poems-Poets-Stories), which should reveal drop down sub-menus, are not working at present. I think this is on account of WordPress altering things and, maybe, trying to persuade me to purchase an upgrade. Well, that may be fair do’s, because I’ve had it free for over eight years! Eight years!! Goodness me. Anyway, on with the show …
It is, on the one hand, perhaps a little sad that it has taken so long for me – sixty-something, very conventional, once regular rugby playing man – to admit that I have some pretty strong feelings and emotions about a whole range of human subjects. What we chaps would have, in the days gone by, called ‘girlie’ feelings. On the other hand, it has also been a very interesting and personal journey, which I think has revealed a lot of me to myself. I realise and accept that there are very few people out there, who will have the slightest interest in me personally. In fact, if you do, then it is to be discouraged! However, if nothing else, I do hope there will be some who have an interest in the process I’m going through and the words. Yes the words. I’ve no doubt there’ll be a lot of you who’re way ahead of me in this, already. Whichever it is, I look forward to contining the journey. All you need to do is jump on board every now and again, as and when you please. Every time you do, feel free to make a comment, even and perhaps especially if it is something like “I don’t understand this!” – a comment my wife often makes after reading one of my poems.
My calling card once described me as a ‘Family man, Grandfather, Weekend Poet, Occasional Musician, Amateur Photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, Engineer and general all-round good egg’, but please note I’m not particularly impressed by that card; it was penned seven or eight years ago, in a moment of slightly perverse humour; tongue firmly pressed to cheek. Ah well, it’s still in print and I’m not paying for any more until these are used up (in true Yorkshire spirit), which means they’ll probably outlast me!
Writing poems began for me in 2009, on a specific date – yes, as precise as that! This followed the birth of my first grandchild three days before. This event inspired the poem “Jessica Tenth of May“. The strangest thing about this story is that I felt that I couldn’t admit to writing the poem, not even to my wife, who is my soul-confidante. Instead, I waited till the close family were gathered in the presence of her ladyship, who was a mere seven days old, and read the (albeit rather imperfect) poem to them all; don’t know what came over me! Anyway, my wife and children were very complimentary, or at least polite.
This triggered a period of writing in my life, which, if it has slowed a little, has yet to dry up. If truth be told, in my youth (around 16 to 25 years), before career, family and responsibilities swept me into a creative desert for a while, I did write some songs and the odd poem, so 13th May 2009 didn’t strictly mark the beginning of my creative writing. Although it has to be said that my undergraduate thesis on the behaviour of laser light when passed through single crystals of Lithium Fluoride was described by my tutor as a great piece of ‘creative writing’ (as opposed to objective science)!
From that May 2009 to the present time, however, whilst this process has been not quite cathartic, it has certainly given vent to a well of feeling, sometimes strong, and opinion, even stronger, on subjects as diverse as love, war, loss, home, work, celebrity, shopping, stress, manners, ego, depression and, perhaps most important of all, on the value of family and community; and the need to fill up our children with enough love, kindness and security as early in their lives as possible, so that they grow into adults with a tank-full, which enables them to give some back to a world, which is sorely in need of it. One of my favourite albums in our large music collection, is ‘Songs In The Key of Life’, a double album that Stevie Wonder released in 1976 and, amongst my favourite tracks from this album is “Love’s in Need of Love Today”, as if to illustrate the point.
Literature, poetry and songs are stories. They should be delivered so we can hear the message in the words, so that they have a beginning, a middle, a conclusion. They are the essence of a civilised life. I’d like to celebrate story telling and, as well as paying homage to the internet, defend the digital technology that allows us to have freely available information. I acknowledge WordPress and the freedom we have to express ourselves.
“As unconditional love and kindness is the bedrock of humanity, so freedom of expression and unrestricted access to literature are prerequisites of a civilised society.”
It should also be said that unrestricted access to information in general is vital to a civilised society (except of course where that information would endanger an individual, family, community or a nation). This blog is, by virtue of its title, concerned with poetry and, more specifically it is intended as a remote repository for my own story. It does extend to the poetry of others and to various philosophical discussions (see also my other blog site, ‘Forty Two’). It also has links to some of the poets I like and admire, as well as to other sites of relevance. It is also dedicated to the institution of family and to the importance of using language to promote understanding, not only of humanity, but also between human communities; to communicate what’s really important to us all.
Last but not least, my poetry is not intended to be for publication or competition (otherwise I shouldn’t be placing it here), but rather for my own children and their future descendants, as a small part of our family history, in the cause of which personal biographies always play an important and often revealing part.
Having said that, not all of the poetry I’ve written is here by a long way, but it might well be at some point. In my first year of blogging, I tried to write a poem every week, as time and inspiration allowed. I didn’t quite achieve that. In 2012 I wrote even less, but by then I’d met and cemented some enduring online relationships with many other poets and writers and the effect this had was, I believe, to improve the quality, if not the quantity of my poetry. So, the journey changed direction, ever so gradually, and became even more interesting …
© 2018 John Anstie
All rights reserved
“This is a voyage of discovery“.