What strange times.
Last night, as news of the UK exit polls broke, I was sitting in De Barra’s bar in Clonakilty, West Cork, with a room of people gathered to listen to poems by the poet Pádraig O’Tuama, in collaboration with The Velvetine Quintet. Into the space of the darkness and uncertainly, over the low and haunting notes of the cello, and as Pádraig began reading, there were tears shed, my own and others. His poems were speaking to the possible, to the human in us all, and to the common ground. There, as the notes and words came into resonance, I could feel us all holding fierce disappointment in one hand, and grace in the other. Then, as the poems continued to invite our deeper humanity into the room, there was this palpable sense too: that there are always other ways of seeing; that there there are always other ways to gather, and that there are always other ways to listen. It felt like a beautiful, timely moment of burgeoning awareness: that these spaces where we gather with these different ways of knowing, that these are essential for our time.
Poetry has always been a place where those other ways of knowing convene. It is a place to explore the big questions for our time while also speaking to into the nuances of mystery. It allows room for words which I think are so needed now, words like love, joy, beauty and dare I say, hope.
So, given the news of the last day, it feels timely that this next poetry salon I recorded for you is on that very theme of hope.
Hope- is that such an audacious thing, especially now? How can we have hope when things and times are so complex? And what does it mean to hope when we are feeling uncertain, at a loss to know what to do?
I take these questions into this next salon, where I am interested in the thinking about hope as a robust, resilient promise, something we can give our hand to and which shows up as action. What, I ask, does it mean to live in the space of the possible, and can we give our hope to that?
‘The Turn of Hope’ brings you poems from W.S Merwin, Rilke, Denise Levertov, Barbara Ras, Rupi Kaur, Jeanne Lohmann.
My invitation is to carve 30 minutes for yourself, find a quiet spot, and let these words enter into the crevasses of your heart, perhaps as solace, perhaps as hope itself.
Happy Listening, and please feel free to pass along this salon to those you think could do with some words which speak to the possible too.
You can listen here
Onwards, with love
(You can listen to the first of these salons, ‘The Nature of Place’ over here.