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.

Reluctant Kings: a poem for the Anthropocene

We were born to be reluctant kings,
inheriting a life of technological privilege
and terrible, the dreadful weight of responsibility
and guilt.
We cannot simply live, and follow natural urge.
We must think deeply, and broadly.
Our kingdom awaits our every utterance.
Our every whim may shatter another’s life.
For humans, forced to be Gods,
cannot pretend
we are without power.
Could we run away?
The kingdom, unasked for.
A life of wealth,
so hard to turn away.
A life of ease in body’s comfort.
The price, for never our minds to rest,
Or acting without consequence,
The mob,
Will turn on us.

© Janey Colbourne 2017

I was contemplating how it is for the next generation, being born into the technological age, the Age of the Anthropocene, and how, being born into that privilege, it is hard to imagine life without it, but on the other hand, as they grow up, they will discover the legacy of environmental destruction, and the responsibilities they have to face, which they did not choose, but were born into. I was moved to write this poem, comparing their fate, and their dilemma, to that of kings.

Here it is, in Spoken Word form, on YouTube

A FREE PDF BOOK Growing with Gratitude #freebook #gratitude #healing

Growing with gratitude

I would like to offer my readers a FREE PDF DOWNLOAD of my second book ‘Growing with Gratitude: a poetic journey of healing’.

Growing with Gratitude is the story of my healing journey, in the form of poems I wrote along the way. It begins in a place of despair and gradually I find reasons for hope and gratitude. I hope that it may help anyone else who has experience of struggling with serious illness or disability to find hope and discover their own reasons to be positive. It is possible to find the source of inner healing, irrespective of the state of our physical health. Creative expression in any form can be highly therapeutic, so I encourage you to put pen to paper, put aside any judgements or worries about how ‘good’ it may be, and write for your own benefit.

The most powerful positive force through this period of my life has been the cultivation of gratitude. Gratitude for the wonderful people in my life, for nature and the Earth that sustains us, for the medical and healing treatments, and for the simplest things in everyday life. Look around and see the gifts you have. The more you look the more you see, and the more you will create.

With Gratitude to all beings who have inspired and supported me.

Janey Colbourne 2016


#ADHD and #ASD do they make a good couple?

It is not uncommon for ASD and ADHD to be given as a dual diagnosis. I’ve been considering if, when they occur together, rather than being comorbid, they in fact complement or compensate for each other. The classical symptoms of ADHD include distraction, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The classic symptoms of ASD include obsession/hyperfocus, a love of routine and predictability and a tendency for social isolation. Clearly this is stereotypical but I am simplifying here for a moment, while I explore an idea.

I have ADHD and my mind flies around, bursting with ideas. I can be impulsive, with a tendency to blurt and easily gets overexcited. I also have autistic traits, awaiting diagnosis. My autistic side loves predictability, hates excessive demands and prefers solitude and quiet contemplation. These two might seem contradictory, but they act as moderators for each other. They coexist at the same time, although sometimes one or other may be slightly dominant. Sometimes they conspire to get me in a panic. Overall I think they help each other.

My ASD hyperfocus helps my ADHD to get focused and stick to a task. On her own my ADHD gets so excited about something that she wants me to leap around shouting, or alternatively she gets bored and wanders off. My ADHD is bursting with ideas and darts off in unexpected directions to bring back a fresh perspective. This helps my ASD to open up and not get too stuck in a rut. My ADHD has a tendency to blurt what I’m thinking before I’ve assessed the situation. My ASD might not be great at assessing the situation either, but has sufficient inhibition and dislike of making a fuss to make me bite my tongue. My ASD gets tired easily, especially when it comes to auditory processing and is another way she calms down my ADHD from throwing me into excessive social peril. Together ADHD and ASD love to think and create. ASD helps my ADHD to stay on track and not run off chattering inanely to the nearest person, so they can work together. ASD needs ADHD’s bright ideas and energy. ASD can get the quiet she needs if ADHD is kept occupied with some exciting revelations to chew on. ASD has some awesome topics that she wants to work through and ADHD is only to happy to bounce these around and see what she can make with them. She can also spot when ASD is overthinking and pull her out of her ruminations.

ADHD doesn’t like to be too constrained by rules and routines. She finds them too boring. She might get into trouble. ASD craves predictability and likes to do things correctly. She might sometimes miss out on opportunities. ADHD and ASD are good together, like Howard Moon and Vince Noir.