Liminal Spaces

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I’m about to go on an extended trip to visit family…

and I have a ‘to do before I leave’ list
written in two solid columns,
because that’s less scary than two pages,
so what to do first? Write a poem
about liminal spaces 😆😂🤣😆
That is NOT on the list!
But muse insists…

Liminal spaces are the places
we go when what’s been is behind
and what’s coming isn’t yet in view.
Where no one knows your name,
apart from the one checking tickets
who’s so full of names they don’t care
where your name came from.

It’s freeing to be nameless a while,
from your perch on the edge
of what was and what will be,
browsing unfamiliar faces
who undoubtedly have a name too.
But you leave them be,
let them savour the liminal too.

Because all too soon
the world makes you return,
and you pick up your name
like a coat you left in the cloakroom,
almost surprised to find it still fits
because something’s changed,
and you put it on to face the new place,
where you’re welcome by your name
heard in the voice of one who loves you… ❤️💕

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He took off his tie

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In honour of Father’s Day, and to continue yesterday’s theme of my love for the ocean, here’s a poem from my poetry collection, Ignite. Enjoy 😀Blessings on all the fathers, and all the stories, beginning, and ending, and beginning again…❤️

 

He took off his tie

 

 

The woman beckoned me to the bridge

and pointed.

The salmon were leaping.

 

Dad shared a memory with me recently.

It was a song that sparked it, played

by the guitarist doing covers

in the restaurant where we ate.

 

I saw Dad as a young man

taking off his tie to cast off

office life for adventure at sea.

I add this image to my own story, a preface

to well preserved childhood memories

of so many salt scented holidays.

 

The sea has always beckoned me, and

now I know a little more of why –

because Dad took off his tie.

 

How do the salmon know where to return

to after years spent maturing at sea?

 

Because I saw it myself, they do know,

that somewhere just upriver from that bridge

where I watched them fight the flow

is where their own story must return,

to begin again.

 

My collection, Ignite, is available from Lulu.com 

If you’d like a copy, please follow the link.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/harula-ladd/ignite/paperback/product-24091712.html

Writers’ Well – Home

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Home. It’s a big word, in spite of being just four letters. There are other big four letter words… love, hope, free…but for now, let’s be with Home.

Finding myself currently between outer homes, this word has been very alive in me recently,  and I was reminded of a couple of lines from a poem I heard not long ago. I’ll paraphrase, as I don’t have the text to hand. A young woman, a refugee, said she had a home, put her hand to her heart, but that now she needed a house for it.

I realised I was at risk of disconnecting myself from my inner home, as a result of the stress of needing to find a new outer home. Not that I had any issue finding somewhere temporary, I am very blessed, but I am still unsure about where I will live longer term.

Inner Home.

Outer Home.

This became the reflection for one of our prompts during last week’s writing circle. First, we drew a circle in the centre of a blank piece of paper, writing the word Home inside it. Then we wrote words and phrases inside the circle, to represent ‘inner home’, followed by words or phrases outside the circle to represent ‘outer home’.

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Then we shared those thoughts, and in 7 minutes, wrote a poem.

This is what I wrote.

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Keys,  rent, walls.

Silence, safety, pause.

Photos, laughter, food.

Roots, faith, pause.

Garden, kitchen, washing machine.

Song, heartbeat, pause.

Coats hung up to dry,

shoes leave mud on the welcome mat.

Spirit, freedom, pause.

A spare room to welcome, entertain.

When are you coming back?

Private, love, pause.

Worldly shelter, anchor.

Family, ancestor, anchor.

Pause.

Welcome.

Pause

 

What is Home to you? I’d love to read your thoughts…

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

Don’t mind the gaps

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I am still landing from the magical, life changing experience that was The Hip Yak Poetry School, organised by the phenomenal Liv Torc, with support from a truly awesome team of facilitators whose generosity and talent I need to create new words for. In the meantime, here’s a new poem.

 

 

The same teaspoon of salt diluted
in a glass of water, instead sprinkled
on a sea seasons differently.

Have you ever run, eyes closed
on an empty beach, anticipating
walls where there are none?

The same beating heart in
a newly expanded chest, no
lid to keep the love in, sounds

deeper, wider. Human eyes
can’t see the holes in skin
we think was only designed

to keep us in. But words find
the porousness of being,
and need no veins or arteries

to channel life giving properties.
They go straight to the heart.
They find the gaps. Circulation

is the above hitting ground and
being ploughed, like worms churn
the earth to goad rebirth.

Go. Run on a beach with
your eyes closed. Then stop.
Look up to where there are

no walls. Tend the heart
beating in a newly expanded
chest that doesn’t mind the gaps.

 

 

My Book! Introducing: Ignite

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Some of you will know that, over the last few months, I’ve been ‘cooking’ something other than vegetarian meals for up to 90! 😆 I am now ready, and very excited, to introduce you to – my book!

Ignite is a collection of 42 poems written over several years, loosely gathered around the theme of fire, and its qualities of light, warmth, power and transformation. Some of the poems have been shared before, either through performances at open mics or here on my blog, as well as on Facebook. Others are entirely new.

I’ve published it through Lulu.com, and it is available to purchase now. Please follow the link.

http://www.lulu.com/…/ignite/paperback/product-24091712.html

I’ve received and learned sooooo much from the process of creating this, and now I setit free, to run wild. If it makes its way to you, thank you, and I hope you enjoy it.

With love and much joy…

Harula xxx

 

Here are a few links to some of the poems included in this collection, although some may have been slightly revised during the process of editing.

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/tune-your-ears-to-hope-2/

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/love-lets-go/

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/thats-how-soft-re-post/

 

 

 

Writers’ Well – An image speaks…

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Image from a postcard I bought in Berlin. Details on the back read:

Berlin, vermutlich 13, August 1961 – http://www.panorama-berlin.de

 

A picture speaks a thousand words, they say. So this week’s prompt started with an image. I picked up this postcard when I was in Berlin earlier this year, and I find it extremely powerful. I handed the image around for everyone to look at, and then simply asked them to write  few responses on pieces of paper, and lay them around the image. to share with the rest of the group.

 

Some examples of what people wrote included:

Ignorance of difference.

Poor mothers caring in the wake of destruction.

Grandmothers nurturing a more peaceful word for the next generation.

Why do we continue to place barriers between ourselves?

I want to touch you, but the obstacles are huge.

 

Hmmm, that’s almost a poem itself! Anyway, I then asked people to write a story in response, taking it in whatever direction they wanted. I was very moved by everything written, and the depth and courage with which everyone engaged with this prompt. I myself was actually reminded of something that I witnessed several years ago, so I wrote about that. Here’s my response – written in ten minutes.

 

Touch, simple touch. Where she’d grown up it was an easy, celebrated, joyous thing. A friend in the playground offered their back, and small, strong, nine year old hands began to knead and rub and stroke with kindness and warmth.

 

“Me too! Me next!”

 

Soon there was a queue, and others were following her lead. Those receiving stood with palms flat against the wall, as friends rubbed backs. Without being asked or told they understood the unwritten rule of give and take, and instantly reciprocated, changed roles.

 

The bell rang, and laughing, some holding hands and skipping back into class, they returned to lessons.

 

Later that day the girl who’d started it all was called into the headmistress’s office. Clearly and firmly, though not yet angrily at least, she was told that such behaviour was inappropriate, and not to be repeated.

 

Touch. Simple touch. Dangerous? Apparently they thought so. Touch. A reminder of our sameness, the warmth of aliveness, the anatomy we share, however differently, uniquely each body expresses it, the bones, sinew, nerves.

 

A wall was built that day, and hands, palms alive with intuitive feeling were made to wear invisible gloves they’d never be able to take off unless they developed the awareness to know they were there, a layer of interference between a natural longing to connect and a twisted, fearful perspective. I hope, when she grew up, she was able to take those gloves off.

 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

Safety briefing for travel aboard planet earth

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Ladies and gentlemen,

on behalf of the cosmos and her crew

it’s our pleasure to welcome you

to this life aboard planet earth.

 

Your safety during this life

is important to the cosmos and her crew,

so we ask that you give us your full attention

while we explain the safety features of this planet.

 

While aboard this planet you are advised

to wear a belt, and be prepared to tighten it

should you be advised to do so,

as we may encounter periods of greed.

 

While aboard this planet you’ll

be glad to know that oxygen levels are

being carefully monitored and maintained

for your safety and well being.

 

However, should we lose forest cover

oxygen masks will not fall from above your head.

Instead, please immediately leave your seats

and go and plant some more trees.

 

For your information we will now

point out that emergency exits are

not situated here, here or here as

there are currently no alternative planets.

 

Should we encounter an emergency,

please assume the position of truth,

keep your feet firmly on the ground,

and use your head. Remember,

 

there are no emergency exits,

so we must all offer to assist,

and do whatever necessary to

ensure life can continue to exist.

 

However, should you encounter fear

you will find a high visibility vest

stowed within easy reach

to alert a member of our crew.

 

Please take the vest,

place it over your head

and tie the straps

around your waist and wait.

 

If a member of the crew

does not immediately come to you

please blow into the whistle

attached to attract attention.

 

Ladies and gentlemen we kindly ask

that all minds now be switched to ‘awake’

mode, and remain so unless

advised otherwise by a member of the crew.

 

You are further reminded that this

is a no smoking planet, and therefore

should you see or smell any smoke

this is an indication of a fire.

 

Even if you cannot see the flames,

we strongly advise you to listen to those

who can and take appropriate action,

for the safety of all on-board.

 

This completes the safety announcements

and we thank you for your attention.

Should you require a reminder

you will find relevant books and documentaries

 

listed in the google search in front of you.

On behalf of the cosmos and her crew,

thank you for choosing planet earth.

We wish you a pleasant life.

sky earth galaxy universe

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writers’ Well – Simplicity

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Ahhh, the simple things. I’ve been buried in busyness and complexity quite a bit recently, so it was both an offering and a personal need to focus last Friday’s creative writing session on the theme of simplicity. I found it incredibly nourishing.

The particular prompt I’d like to share with you worked like this. First, we wrote the word simplicity at the top of a piece of paper (one piece each) then wrote a brief example of what we feel that word means. We then passed our papers around, adding more ideas, until we’d gathered several examples, which we then read aloud.

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We then turned the sheet over, and divided it into four; work, relationship, play and inner world. The idea was to make a few notes about how you might go about simplifying those areas of your life.

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And then, use all that thought gathering to inspire a poem, in just ten minutes! This is what I wrote:

 

 

Take a brand new day

open the front door and explore

walk a path you’ve never taken before

and look up

enjoy the cinema in the sky

the vast ever changing images

of clouds passing by

breathe

 

Take a brand new friend

ask them a question

listen

wait until they’re done

then ask another question

while sharing tea in a cafe

chips by the river

wine in a bar

smile

 

Take a brand new page

dive into the emptiness

and write what you 

feel, see, hear, think

as the page’s new look

takes shape before your eyes

in unique, never before ways

write

 

Take a brand new month

check your bank balance

living within your means

helps you to breathe

with more ease

and the planet too

there is no waste in nature

it’s all for a reason

so don’t buy things designed

for a single season

balance

 

Take a brand new breath

notice it filling

your chest and let out

what wants to be released

noting you don’t need to interfere

or control how you breathe

it happens anyway

so give it space to do its thing

breathe

 

Do you enjoy the simple things in life? Do share you thoughts in the comments if you have a moment…

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

Writers’ Well – Message in a bottle

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beach bottle cold daylight

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Last Friday I decided to focus the session all loosely around the theme of Play, a huge topic, and in my opinion not in the LEAST frivolous. Play is where we’re allowed to make mistakes, to imagine, to interact, to know it’s ‘just’ a game, and thereby experience freedom, and thereby let in and welcome new insights without having to seriously and earnestly seek them out in an exhausting quest for ‘truth’, because we can’t seek out what we don’t yet know exists, and Play opens us to possibility, to the new and unknown. It loosens us up. Einstein used to play his violin, when he was a bit stuck with a theory. I’m sure there are other similar examples of clever minds using play to free their thoughts, so they can travel a bit further.

The prompt I’d like to share is super simple. I asked each writer to take a couple of pieces of paper, and write on each one a message that might conceivably be found in a bottle. I then asked one person to pick one of those messages, and read it aloud. We then all wrote a story inspired by that message being found in a bottle. Amazing how varied the imaginative responses to the same phrase! However, for now I can only share mine, unedited, written in ten minutes, just for the fun of it…enjoy 🙂

What goes around comes around. Or so they say. What were the odds? How many stars in the sky! But life can be funny like that.

The first warmer weather of the year had taken them out in the boat, and although his daughter was a little nervous at first, she was soon trailing her fingers in the sea, no longer alarmed by the rocking action of the boat in the gentle waves.

It was when they were coming back, slowed down to avoid hitting the rocks on the way back to the beach, “Dad! Dad! A bottle!”

It was caught in the rocks. It was green, no longer with a label, but looked like a beer bottle. “Get it Dad, there’s something in it! Get it!”

He jumped out of the boat, the water now shallow enough for him to walk, holding the wooden rim, oars safely in, and picked the bottle out of the rocks.

“Here,” he offered. “Open it.” There was a pop as she flipped the rusty old lid, and pulled out the paper inside.

“I can’t read it,” she says, offering it to him. Impossible.

“Dad, read it! What does it say?”

He doesn’t know why, but in his shock he’s not prepared to tell the truth. “You will always be lucky, when you’re near the sea – always make your home by the coast.”

“It doesn’t. It didn’t have that many words. What does it say?

“Surrounded by sharks! Help!”

HIs own handwriting, from, must’ve been ten years ago. A silly bit of fun on his honeymoon, with the wife he’d since lost. What had she written? He couldn’t remember. He lifted his daughter out of the boat, and told her the story.

 

Here’s the TED talk I watched that morning, before leading the writing group. I’ve returned to it a couple of times. It always makes me laugh…

 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

Writers’ Well – Food

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Food is something that’s, let’s face it, is always on my mind BUT particularly at the moment, and in new and deeper ways than – step away from the fridge, and let me in!

I recently read two fantastic books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (of The Poisonwood Bible fame) and The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball. Both are memoirs exploring the daily reality of growing food, from seed to table. The beauty, the abundance, the challenge, the exhaustion and the broken and poisonous current large scale food production systems we have created, and that have distanced us so much from the meal on our plate. I highly recommend them both.

Rather than explore this topic in essay form, I decided to feed it into (!) last week’s writing session, as a prompt for a poem. The form of the prompt was this:

Draw a line in the centre of a blank page.

Above the line draw a tree trunk, with (to start with) three branches leading off with the words WHO (do we eat it with?), WHERE (do we eat it?) WHAT (do we like/not like to eat?).

Below the line, draw roots, again labelled WHO (grows it?) WHERE (does it come from?), WHAT (does it need in order to grow?)

Now, at your whim and pleasure, extend those branches off in any direction with your own spontaneous answers/responses to those questions, until you end up with something like this:

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Of course, that activity alone could go on for a very long time, we spent no more than five minutes harvesting thoughts and ideas, and then shared them for some fruitful creative cross-pollination. Then, I invited each writer to pen a poem, in just ten minutes, inspired by that exploration. This is what I wrote:

 

I say I eat alone

Often alone, with my computer

And iPlayer for company

But if the essence of all those

Involved in the meal

that waits on my plate

were present as I ate

my bedroom would be pretty full

 

of the worms that turned the soil

and the people that toiled in

all weathers, somewhere on this planet

we share, there’s a man, woman or child

with a name and a family of their own

who played a part in growing

this food that waits on my plate

 

so am I really alone

when I eat? Would I slow down

eat less fast if I knew, if I felt

the aching back, the cold wet hands,

the burnt skin on the cheeks of

those who spent hours, days, weeks

growing harvesting, transporting that food

that waits on my plate

 

if they stood watching over my shoulder

would I be more aware of the taste

before I swallow, give thanks for the

rain, sun, earth and air that

conspired in this everyday alchemy not

to ensure I was fed but simply to honour

the cycle of give and take and life

and death and nourish and be nourished

that has been in place long before

this meal that waits on my plate

 

I was very moved by all the different responses, and to discover that most of us in the writing circle that day ate most of our meals alone, which leaves me with many questions…food for thought 🙂

 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/