War is always with us!
War is always with us! What more can we say? As the end of 2018 approaches, these dark days remind me that I know so little and there is so little time to gather the fragments of knowledge. In the course of a series of writing groups at the Maggie Cancer Centre, about session four or five I offer the prompt:
D i a l o g u e w i t h t h e I n n e r C r i t i c
This is an exercise to bring us into dialogue with the inner critic or censor. Sit quietly and see if you can hear how your critic speaks to you. Does it have a recognizable voice or several voices? If so, whose? Some of us have several inner critics. Are there certain words or phrases that keep repeating themselves? Make a list. Is the voice more strident in some situations than in others?
Do the above exercise several times if you need to. Then using the information you have gathered write a letter from the critic to yourself, listing all the reasons why you cannot do something that is important to you. This will bring the grey and grudging part of yourself into focus, so it might make you squirm.
But having given the critic a voice, write a response listing all your reasons for disagreeing with it.
(from Writing Your Way by Manjusvara)
Of course I always join in any exercise I offer. I read my list to the group which included “Clear My Piles and Make My Living Space a Santuary”. Here’s what my critic wrote:
Dear Larry, 9th June 2016
How can you, how dare you even consider the notion of making your living space into a sanctuary. How ridiculous! It won’t make you happy, you’ll regret it – you will feel uncomfortable – like when you visit someone’s house that’s really neat & tidy, you don’t like it, you feel awkward. So why bother? You have better things to do with your time.
Just accept the fact: you are a mess. You’ve always been a mess and you will always be a mess – you can’t get rid of a tiger’s stripes. Born a messy pup. Always a messy pup.
Even if you did manage the miracle of a tidy room, which is very unlikely – it wouldn’t last, soon be a mess again. You haven’t got the will power nor the intelligence to change a pattern that’s been there since the day you were born. You were probably messy in previous lives too. I’ve been telling and telling your whole life to put things away. Do you listen? Do you care? No! You carry on as usual ignoring all my good advice.
And just because you are more aware of your dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder doesn’t mean anything’s going to change. It’s just not in you to be tidy; nor can you sustain or even tolerate a modicum of tidiness.
Just give up. Stop trying. Kiss it goodbye. Accept you’re a mess till the day you die, then someone else can clean it up. Enjoy wallowing in you pigsty of a room.
yours truly, Bill Dustbin
Dear Bill, 10th June 2016
Thank you for your letter. I’m wondering if you’re scared, I mean really scared that if I clear up my room and keep it clear – there will be no place for you. Let me re-assure you – even when my room is tidy, I will have a wild corner like we have at the allotment for the hedgehogs, toads, and bumble bees, beetles and spiders. You will still be welcome in my room – my sanctuary. Yes you will, and you can shout sometimes and swear too.
Eric & Robin will help. I will give away or recycle old clothes, books, tapes, and all sorts of paper: Resurgence, Reforesting Scotland, Friends of the Earth, New Internationalist, Network of Engaged Buddhist, Green Peace, Amnesty, Freedom from Torture, Quarriers, newsletters and magazines – making room for handstands against one wall.
First I will establish a new habit, starting tonight, of clearing my desk each evening before bed, filing or putting things in my Action box. I will ask for help and pray for guidance. Make a step by step plan. This is not going to happen in a week or two. Once a month, there will be a “muck-out” day in my diary, and once each season a “muck-out” week.
I can do it. I will do it. The dustbin will be empty every Sunday. And poetry will flourish.
Larry the Lamb
That was two and half years ago and my piles of papers are getting higher and higher. Here I am again between Christmas and New Year sifting and sorting with the precept “if in doubt throw it out”.
PLAYSPACE PUBLICATIONS 2018
Autumn Voices edited by Robin Lloyd Jones Scottish Writers over 70 talk about creativity in later life.
Autumn Voices has had excellent reviews and is selling well. I haven’t, as yet, covered my publishing cost. You can order a copy directly through Booksource. I suggest you don’t buy it through Amazon, they take a huge cut. Since publishing in May two of the writers in the Anthology have died: David Donnison and Lee Gershuny. David died just before the launches in Blackwells and Waterstones. For his funeral and wake at the Oron Mhor I published a pamphlet of his poetry: THE PATH THAT LEADS TO THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and this raised over £400 towards Trees for Life.
Tom Leonard was also to be included in Autumn Voices and he sent me the following contribution. Unfortunately he withdrew his piece because of a design glitch. Here’s an extract of what he sent me:
“Creativity is working outside behaviour pattern exploring form in a content of open process.
I fear or at any rate do not at all look forward to losing the ability to control my breathing. I have COPD and use oxygen but so long as I can control my breath the rhythm of my being and thinking is autonomous and invisible to the world experienced; the agency of my physical being is unconscious, the rhythm of my thoughts can proceed.
I have never itemised my motives for writing. I don’t even think of it as something that has motives, like murder. But a few of what seem to me the best poems I have written have been written out of the sense there was nothing else to do as without whatever it was I was in pursuit of, the silence could no longer be a given for me. Other poems began in anger and led to enjoyment, sometimes. . . .”
Sadly Tom died on the Winter Solstice 21st December. Funeral date is 12th Jan 1130am at Clydebank Crematorium. I’ll be MCing the reception probably in the Lorne Hotel, Sauchiehall Street.
I made Autumn Leaves into a card which will be sold to raise money for Medical Aid to Palestinians – one of Tom’s passionate concerns. Cards will be available at the funeral and reception in the Lorne Hotel, Sauchiehall Street.
by Morag Anderson – former manager of Childline and a former member of the Lapidus Scotland Management Group. Morag co-edited Bundles of Bog Cotton, an anthology of writing from the Maggie Cancer Care Centres. Burning Words is an anthology selected from her journals. Morag died on her birthday last May – this publication is a contribution to her legacy – and sales of Burning Words has already raised over £200 for Childline.
Forthcoming PlaySpace Publications
Brushes With War
The last poem I wrote this year was a Sick Song – with a chant: WAR IS ALWAYS WITH US. I was one of 17 Mirrorball members who read their own pieces in response to Kelvingrove museum’s WW1 exhibition “Brushes With War”. All the poems were uniquely moving, but difficult to fully appreciate only hearing each poem once. There were no plans for a publication so I volunteered to publish a pamphlet for family and friends. After covering my design and printing cost, all proceeds will go to the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Living Our Dying
Let’s talk about death and dying – this Lapidus Scotland initiative continues to slowly expand. The more we die-a-log the more we live. The first Die-a-log group (8 members) started in the same front room where the Bank Street Writers meet and has been talking and writing about death for over seven years; and has spawned 9 other groups: Edinburgh, Reading, London, Dorset. Caring talk, reflections, inspirations, resources, practical information and news about death and dying, sharing and giving compassionate support, guidance and encouragement dealing with all aspects of death and dying. Their talk is serious but light-hearted, starting with their “die-a-log” name. The most important feature is their kindly warmth and respect that gives permission to talk about things that many people regard as taboo and to say what they want. Poems about death and dying have always been popular with people who are searching for a way of coping with the death of a loved one. Poetry about death is often able to express the painful emotions of grief and loss, and thus assist the bereaved to cope with the situation. You can find lots more information on their website: http://diealog.co.uk/ . Our archivist was David Donnison with died last May. I’ve agreed to edit and publish a book called Living Our Dying which will include reviews, essays, and poems by David Donnison and other members of the Die-a-log groups. Income from books sales will be donated to the charity Dignity in Dying. This will be published on the first anniversary of David’s death in May 2019.
The Last Companion – a film
Some members of the die-a-log group have been making a film called The Last Companion which we plan to premiere at the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) in February – click on link to view a few excerts.
Still in Stock
13 Ways of Making Poetry a Spiritual Practice by Maitreyabandhu
HeartWork by Linda France
Today Today Today by Alec Findlay
Lost Words by Dorothy Stafford
Dates for your diary
The Poet’s Way
Awakening to the power of poems to compliment & enhance our spiritual practice
Sundays from 5pm (for a 5:30 start) to 9pm at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre
329 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3HW
Bring a poem to share – with 4 copies – yours or by someone else. Bring writing materials and vegetarian food to share.
To find out more & book a place – contact:
Dates for 2019: 20 January, 17th Feb, 17th March, 14 April, 19th May, 16th June, 25th August, 29th Sept, 27 October, 24th November, 22 December.
for writers, storytellers and activist committed to doing something to get us out of the mess we are in.
2/3 February in the Waters of Leith Centre Edinburgh
9th to 13th May a retreat on Holy Isle off Arran
For more information email: email@example.com
That’s it from PlaySpace – may your writing life flow deep and strong in 2019
April 5th 1944 – I can shake off everything if I write. My sorrows disappear. My courage is reborn.