Even God likes a little poetry.

Dear Village,

Do you like poetry? I do, but often have to prepare myself for it. Not to write it, but to read it.

Often it’s a theme that I don’t want to face. Murder, war, rape, misfortune. those topics I would avoid for entertainment. I can’t watch violence in films, or depictions of cruelty. At least not easily, or comfortably. So when I read poems about such things I don’t find myself awakened, I find myself shocked.

Some would say that it’s a sign of good poetry, although I would think that the ability to shock someone isn’t particularly clever. What I think of as ‘Good poetry’ moves me, twists me around so I can see something from a different point of view, or begin to feel a different emotion. I am the most impressed when it’s subtle, gentle, a question hanging there that I can come back to in quiet moments.

Do I sound a bit poetic? Probably because I’ve been reading poetry today! It’s a while since I’ve written any, although I have penned one or two.

Homepage-logo[1]There’s some great poetry sites if you want to meander through some work. One of them is www.poetrybyheart.org.uk, which has a good selection of poems old and new, along with some short video clips if you prefer your poetry to be read to you.

Do you write poetry? Are there poems in you? Do you go to readings, or buy poetry books? Would you like to share some with me? I’d love to see them.

The bible is full of amazing poetry, although to appreciate it fully you kinda have to read Hebrew. Nevertheless you can still read versions of the psalms that put the poetry back into the verses – one of my favorites being ‘The Doubter Psalms’ by Christine Robertson. You can find them at http://doubterpsalms.blogspot.co.uk/ – (I know they start with Psalm 11, it’s simply a small error – if you scroll down the next one is ‘1’ and from there you can either read them all or find the one you want). They’re wonderfully inclusive, and reach into the subtlety of the texts. Of course they are an interpretation, but then what isn’t?

There’s two poems below that I really like, (from the above website), and the third is the Doubter Psalms version of the 23rd Psalm, which I really like. I especially like Josephine Baker Finds herself, and really admire the skill used in the way the verses mirror one another. Beautifully written.

I hope you have a little time for poetry this week, that it touch you and inspire you, and that you have the time to write a little. Even if you don’t.





Josephine Baker Finds Herself (2008)

Patience Agbabi

She picked me up
like a slow-burning fuse. I was down
that girls’ club used to run in Brixton,
on acid for fuel. Lipstick lesbians,
techno so hardcore it’s spewing out Audis.
She samples my heartbeat and mixes it with
vodka on the rocks. I’m her light-skinned, negative,
twenty-something, short black wavy-bobbed diva.
She purrs La Garçonne, fancy a drink? I say
Yes. She’s crossing the Star Bar like it’s a catwalk. So sleek!
A string of pearls, her flapper dress
studded with low-cut diamonds
through my skin, straight to my heart.
Twenties chic! She works
me up and down. I worship
the way she looks.

The way she looks
me up and down. I worship
twenties chic. She works
through my skin, straight to my heart
studded with low-cut diamonds.
A string of pearls her flapper dress.
Yes! She’s crossing the Star Bar like it’s a catwalk so sleek
she purrs, la garçonne! Fancy a drink? I say.
Twenty-something, short, Black, wavy-bobbed diva:
Vodka on the rocks, I’m her light-skinned negative.
She samples my heartbeat and mixes it with
techno so hardcore it’s spewing out Audis
on acid for fuel. Lipstick Lesbians,
that girls’ club used to run in Brixton
like a slow-burning fuse. I was down.
She picked me up.



On an Afternoon Train from Purley to Victoria, 1955 (1995)

James Berry

Hello, she said, and startled me.
Nice day. Nice day I agreed.

I am a Quaker she said and Sunday
I was moved in silence
to speak a poem loudly
for racial brotherhood.

I was thoughtful, then said
what poem came on like that?
One the moment inspired she said.
I was again thoughtful.

Inexplicably I saw
empty city streets lit dimly
in a day’s first hours.
Alongside in darkness
was my father’s big banana field.

Where are you from? she said.
Jamaica I said.
What part of Africa is Jamaica? she said.
Where Ireland is near Lapland I said.
Hard to see why you leave
such sunny country she said.
Snow falls elsewhere I said.
So sincere she was beautiful
as people sat down around us.


Psalm 23 Comfort – From The Doubter Psalms.

I am a child of God
I have everything I need.
This beautiful earth feeds my body.
You feed my soul.
You guide me in the ways of Life,
for You are Life.
And though I will walk through dark places, and eventually to death,
I need never be afraid.
For You are with me always,
In You I can find comfort.
With Your help, I can face whatever comes.
My joy overflows.
Your goodness and blessing will be with me
Every day of my life — and forever.

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