Thistle Fierce and Wild. My Poem Grows Some Music.

 

Photo © Janey Colbourne 2015

One of the poems I wrote for my first poetry collection ‘See With Heart‘ was in homage to a large thistle that decided to grow between the wall of my house and the yard. She was truly huge, tall with a very fat stem and long, sharp spikes. I was struck by the vital power of this plant, growing in such an apparently inhospitable place. I took a photo and wrote the poem. Recently I have been songwriting and this is a poem I decided to make into a piece of music. It’s a breakbeat tune with punk vocals, which I felt was suited to the strong spiky energy of the mighty thistle. If you’d like to have a listen here’s the YouTube link. Below is the cover design for the song.

Image by Janey Colbourne using PicsArt

Here’s the original poem:

Thistle

Thistle fierce and wild
Strong you grow
And spiky
What vital power
Too sharp to grasp
Roots buried deep
No soil to see
From patio and wall
You thrust
I must
In truth
Honour
Your mighty conquest

©Janey Colbourne 2015

If you enjoy my creations please consider supporting my work by buying one of my poetry books available at very reasonable prices from Amazon or iBooks. Thank you.

A screenshot from the iBooks version of ‘See With Heart’

All content © Janey Colbourne

 

For Women Of A Certain Age. A Poem.

For Women Of A Certain Age.

I had a bright idea.
A drip tray might suffice.
Perhaps a bib,
the plastic sort
with a little tray,
but have it made
in extra large,
and tie it round my waist.
Do you think it would catch on?

© Janey Colbourne 2017

Here’s a video of me reading this poem on my YouTube channel as part of my Readings From The Red Tent series.

Heteronormative Dictator a #poem

Did you fancy girls
When you were 13?
Did anyone try to say,
No you must be gay?

So you know better
Than the boy himself.
Your heteronormative
Privilege dictates
He has no right
To say who he is
Himself.

He must be confused.
How can anyone know
They are gay?
How did you know
you were straight?

How dare you
Dictate
His right to know
His own feelings,
His own desires.

Imagine yourself
At 13,
Those first awakenings
To your adult identity.
Your first crush,
Crushed

By the arrogance
Of those
Who see not
Your heart.

©Janey Colbourne 2017

Here is the spoken word version on my YouTube channel

Go Paint Your Nails

For International Women’s Day, here’s a poem I wrote about what it’s like growing up as a girl and as a young woman. I also recorded a spoken word techno version, which you can find on my YouTube channel or on Soundcloud.

Go Paint Your Nails.

Don’t cry you’ll spoil your pretty face
Not only irrelevant
But a denial of my inner reality
A subsuming of my feelings and needs,
My hurts
Beneath the gold standard
What will the neighbours think?
Must keep up appearances
Above all else

Girls should be seen
To look pretty
Not heard
To cry and protest
Not heard to
Stand up for justice
Sit on your hands
And shut up your heart
Don’t smudge your make up
Or break your manicured nails
Stay sweet
Or the boys won’t like you

Doc martens and nose pierced
Doesn’t look nice with that skirt
Get yourself something pretty
Not only irrelevant
But a denial of my inner reality
I decline
To subsume my passion, my self,
To shut my mouth
And look pretty
The boy doesn’t like me

More chance of pinning a tiger down
Than squeezing me into a dress
With a face like a porcelain doll
A nice pair of court shoes
Just sitting demurely
No chance, I cackle
As I stomp in my boots
Scruffy wild Woman in black
If the boys don’t like it
They can go
Paint their nails
I decline

© Janey Colbourne 2017

My Strength. A poem.

My strength is not in holding back my emotions,
but in being prepared to face the darkness.
My strength is not in never showing fear,
but in holding its hand and walking on.
My strength is not in immunity to pain,
but in perseverance throughout it.
My strength is not in lack of tears,
but in letting them go and moving on.
My strength is not in being invincible,
but in being flexible.
My strength is not in body,
but in heart and mind and soul.

© Janey Colbourne 2017

 

My #songs and #spokenword on YouTube

I’m building up a bit of a collection of my songs and spoken word poetry on my YouTube channel Janey Colbourne Poet-Seer. A few of the songs are based on poems from one of my poetry collections, which are available in print and in Kindle format from Amazon. Here is a selection of some of my songs. Click on each image to go to the songs.

falling free

bad boy freckleface creative nation

Images by Janey Colbourne with PicsArt 2017

All content © Janey Colbourne 2017

 

A Book Review: ‘Uncommon Ground’ by Dominick Tyler

Uncommon Ground Uncommon Ground page

‘Uncommon Ground: A word lover’s guide to the British landscape’ by Dominick Tyler, and published by Guardian Books and Faber & Faber, is one of those gorgeous books to dip into with delight. For me, this book is perfection. Dominick has travelled around the British landscape, taking beautiful photographs and collecting old and often obscure words that refer to the features of nature and the landscape he encountered. As it says on the sleeve, “Here Dominick Tyler gathers them into an enchanting visual glossary of the British landscape.”

This is far from a mere glossary, ‘enchanting’ is certainly the word for it. The book is a beautiful weaving of natural history, discussion and personal observations, and an exploration of the origins and meanings of a collection of words, some familiar, and some obscure, but all useful to describe precise manifestations of natural phenomena. These words enrich the language, but more significantly, they name the places and features of the landscape. When we name something, we enter into relationship with it. This book is important as part of the movement to bring us back into real connection with the more-than-human world. Dominick doesn’t take us on a journey deep into the unknown and perilous wilderness. He takes us on a journey into a world where we belong in the landscape. He takes us on a journey back into ourselves, back home. These places are familiar, yet he can tell us fascinating details that make us look afresh. Looking at the origins of words takes us into our own history, a history tied to the land and to making a living from it. But this is no museum piece. Our relationship with the landscape is forever evolving, our impact is greater than ever, and Dominick doesn’t shy away from this, yet still his book is delightful. ‘Tidewrack’ is a word to describe the line of remnants left on a beach, marking the high tide. The photograph is strangely beautiful, yet poignant, showing a plethora of colourful plastic, along with the natural debris. In this tidewrack Dominick sees a symbol of our guilt, fulfilling an archaic meaning of the word ‘wrack’ as ‘retributive punishment’.

To intergrate the narrative of human life with the narrative of nature, as if it has never been parted, as if we had never forgotten, is a skilful art, in the Age of the Anthropocene, an age when the majority of human beings live in cities. Dominick succeeds in doing this, in gentle fashion, acknowledging the modern farmer on his mobile, imagining that like the ancient art of fisherman sharing knowledge of the tides, locals now share knowledge of where, in the hills of the Lake District, one might get a signal on a mobile phone.

Dominick compares the British knowledge of mud to the Inuit knowledge of snow. Mud is our default medium here in Britain. As adults we lose our fascination with it. It becomes an inconvenience. Dominick reminds us of the many uses of this humble material. He brings us back to an appreciation of the elements we take for granted. Who knew there were so many words for mud? ‘Loblolly’, I think, is my personal favourite, which means, “a mud hole, especially one with a deceptive dried crust on the surface. Also a name for a thick stew of similar consistency.” As well as providing definitions, Dominick engages us by playing with new ways of using these ancient words, for example, “I loblollied about for half an hour before I got free, and lost a boot in the process.” And yes, Dominick, I too would buy a ‘dictionary of mud’, if there were such a thing.

I like his gentle humour, and his honesty at personal vulnerabilities, which make the book all the more endearing and relateable. He tells of his moment of primal fear swimming in a lake, when his foot struck colder waters beneath, reminding him of the depths beneath.

The book contains OS map references, where relevant, so that we can go and see the landscapes for ourselves. It also includes standard dictionary pronunciation guides for the main terms. George Monbiot, of the Guardian, described ‘Uncommon Ground’ as, “an astonishing book of heart-wrenching beauty”, and that sold it for me. If you are a lover of nature and of words, this book is a perfect synthesis of all that is good.