‘no longer the celebrity rock pig’…

Oh, but the poems are still coming in!  I’m enjoying them!

The Half-And-Half Pig

The Half-And-Half Pig

Here’s a beauty from Meg Cox, about That Pig, and the passage of time.

 

 

 

 

 


Half and Half Pig

When I first saw a photo of him
the piglet half Old Spot

and half Tamworth,
divided, one end of each,

cradled in a man’s arms,
he was a star already,

had attracted visitors,
been oohed over, gone viral.

When I saw him for real he was older
and he didn’t look quite so special,

blending with his siblings,
no longer the celebrity rock pig.

When I last asked after him
I was answered with a farmer’s shrug.

Meg Cox

and this one:

Agricultural machinery draws my focus,
the craftsmanship of shape.
The pumpkin, orange cart
with scalloped undercarriage
and devilled forked hinges.

A slight bow on the upper ridge,
Paintwork framed in thick, black lines.
I think not of the work of this cart
Horse drawn and hard,
only of the shape and colour.

Nina Lewis

Poems For The Farm event 004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I sink into the hammock by the haystack./ This is the life.’

Now you’re halfway through ‘Poems for the Farm’.  There now follows an interval of the most moist, fruity scones, dark red bowls of Acton Scott strawberry jam, with whole fruits bobbing lusciously – and towering dishes of rich whipped cream…

Poems For The Farm cream teas mr

We piled on the cream…

Poems For The Farm audience2 hr

Cream Tea queue at ‘Poems for the Farm’

 

 

 

 

 

 
Then more poetry…

Poems For The Farm Andy FP mr

Andrew Fusek Peters read: ‘Jackdaw handle hinge of the world…’

Poems For The Farm Jean reads mr

I read: ‘He talks of haymaking/ and June storms,/ of the lightning-struck horses/ out in the open.’

Poems For The Farm Mike Turner reads mr

Mike Turner read his son Oliver’s poem. Oliver is 15, a poet, but away at a drama rehearsal.

Poems For The Farm Steve Harrison mr

Steve Harrison read: ‘Wireless chickens/ pecking, preening,/ just solar-powered.’

Poems For The Farm Nadia reads mr

Nadia Kingsley read: ‘His bottom/ curves, in delicate fashion; his anus/ twitches; his lower jaw swings…’

Poems For The Farm Liz Roberts reads mr

Liz Roberts read: ‘He half turns his head,/ and through his whiskers whispers:/ ‘I miss the sea, the hiss and sucking sound…’

Poems For The Farm Adrian Perks reads mr

Adrian Perks reads: ‘I sink into the hammock by the haystack./ This is the life. My girl by my side./ At night we lie together under stars…’

Poems For The Farm Helen Paris mr

Helen Paris reads: ‘Green smothers black as/ the sun, weak for so long,/ pulses and warms.’

 

‘Roman hens of Dorking/ those blue hills/ and Charlie’

Today over 40 poets and lovely attentive audience members turned up on a hot, humid afternoon to take part in ‘Poems for the Farm’.  It was the culmination of my three month residency at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm – and it was great!  Some 20 poets came along to read, and they generously read  work too from poets who couldn’t be here today.

Poems For The Farm 1st readers mr

Here are the first readers, all ready to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems For The Farm Meg Cox reads mr

Meg Cox reads: ‘clumps of black suckling pigs/ leggling lambs/ a water of ducks/ and Charlie…’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems For The Farm Frank reads mr

Frank reads: ‘the ducks’ green heads, their orange feet/ a drop of brown pond water/ a goose with his head in a bucket…’

Poems For The Farm J reads Jacob's poem mr

I read for Jacob: ‘Piglets/ their little noses/ their hunger/ their curly tails’…

Poems For The Farm Julia Dean Richards reads mr

Julia Dean Richards reads: ‘Then trudge up the cock-crowing nature-knowing tractor track…’

Poems For The Farm Peter Holliday reads mr

Peter Holliday reads: ‘He’s been docking mangolds/ From dawn to dusk:/ In rain, in sleet, in icy cold…’

Poems For The Farm Paul Francis reads mr

Paul Francis reads: ‘Just take a pen, and have a go, she said./ It seemed so innocent. Give it a try./ And that was all it took for me to write/ the words I never knew were in my head.’

Poems For The Farm Nina reads mr

Nina Lewis reads: ‘The pumpkin, orange cart/ with scalloped undercarriage/ and devilled forked hinges.’

Poems For The Farm Colin & audience mr

Colin Fletcher reads: ‘Viewers will remember only that wise head/So steady on its saucer of winged collar.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for cream teas and Richard's squeezebox!

Time for cream teas and Richard’s squeezebox!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems from far away and nearer to

William Mytton cart Wed 11 JunePoems for the Farm are still arriving!  It’s wonderful to receive people’s heartfelt words, about the farms they’ve known and places that are special to them.  A treat to be able to connect them to Acton Scott, such a special place.

Here’s one from Renita Boyle, who now lives in Scotland, but tells me this poem is about where she grew up in Wisconsin in the U.S.

Renita Boyle

Renita Boyle

And this one from Prasad, who lives in Bangalore in India.

Prasad (Bangalore, India)

Prasad (Bangalore, India)

And this from Lorien Nemec in the USA:

Lorien Nemec (USA)

Lorien Nemec (USA)

And this one from Stephen Elliott, of Kenilworth, England.

Stephen Elliott

Stephen Elliott

 

 

Opening the door on the Shepherd Poets’ Hut

Here it iInside Poet Hut 2 July mrs… nearing the end of the residency.  All its walls look like this inside – filled up with poems sent to me by a marvellous assortment of young children, published poets and the many people who told me they ‘don’t write poetry’.
Here’s a couple of new ones:

Farmer's Boy by Peter Holliday

Farmer’s Boy by Peter Holliday

The Wheel Turns by Paul Francis

The Wheel Turns by Paul Francis

A poem for Dusty, who makes a noise like a siren

Showers fell every so often, but Freya and her family, visiting from Ireland, had found Dusty.  She wrote this poem with me.  We had very interesting discussions about the colour of the sea at different times and under different skies.  Then we talked about which tense to use for the poem.  Freya’s family, and her little sister, sat in the Shepherd Poets’ Hut and supported her delightfully.  Dusty is one lucky donkey, I think, to have such an admirer.

Freya 8y 9 July 037

Freya, aged 8, with her poem for Dusty the donkey

Here it is, bit easier to read:

Dusty by Freya 8y

A walk through Acton Scott’s Victorian field names

I set off with the Ordnance Survey map, a copy of the ‘Acton Amble’ leaflet and a bad photocopy of Acton Scott’s marvellous map of 19th century field names.  It was a hot afternoon, and I didn’t really have quite enough time, or any water, which was a mistake.  But I followed a faint trail all afternoon, of fields that have shifted slightly from their names, lost paths made narrower from disuse, old fords and markers in the shape of massively coppiced trees.  What follows is a work in progress!

2 Lost green lane

Little Lane Piece was sprung with Oaks./ I wound my way on a narrow path/ through high Hogweed and stinging Nettles.

6 path through barley 1

In Rye Croft Coppy, a Mole turned mortal,/ upside to heaven. Above him brown Ringlets/ wavered the clover.

 

7 path through barley 2 hilltop

A whispering Ash at Broomy Rye Croft./ The Ragleth was rising from cover. Blue Flies/ moved slowly and thickly in shade.

 

3 Lane by Little Rye Croft

At the third ford: Rabbit bones, a trim of birds,/ a trembling shade like water. I climbed and had/ to stop for breath. Dried mud. Hoofprints.

 

11 descending to Chelmick Valley

I walked, and the lie of the old track from Chelmick/ was tagged with shreds of winter-carded wool./ In the squatter village, the hedge-lines grew loose

 

12 One eyed house on road nr Rogers' Rough

Smell of dung and dead stock. Crow. By Roger’s Rough,/ a one-eyed cottage under renovation. Everywhere/ this local ground makes shift for the duration.

 

 

Tory the Shire mare harrows chickweed

Tory light harrow 2Yesterday I watched Simon work with Tory, the Shire mare.  She’s elderly, semi-retired, and all I’ve seen her do so far is stand patiently in the stable yard, her halter rope trailing, while small children are popped up on her back for a moment.  She didn’t move even when one regular small visitor embraced her foreleg, much as you might hug a tree.

But yesterday she was harnessed to a harrow, to do some light work ‘weeding’ between the flax crop and the potatoes.  She was a different horse, full of energy and far more highly strung than I expected.  I watched Simon manage her skillfully as she lunged at the job in hand, swinging off her line at a cracking pace.  He explained, as he stood her to calm down, how she throws herself too fiercely into the collar, and then, startled by the impact of the sudden weight, refuses.

Later I saw her do just that.  Simon took her back, set off again but with a lever lifted the harrow’s teeth so there was no friction. Tory pulled it successfully through the chickweed, he slowly turned her and just as swiftly dropped the teeth as she pulled it back.  As she was already moving steadily she had no problem towing it through the matted weeds.  “It’s just how she is,” he said, “Too late to teach her any different now”.

I have a poem developing, here’s the beginning –

Tory
sets off too fast, throws her weight too hard

into the collar and it’s no good.
The harrow yanks the chickweed and jams tight.
She stops, throws up her head.
Her forehooves brace.

He talks to her, she shines. I slap
a horse-fly on her crest and her red blood
runs in the palm of my hand.
At the back of the blinker her eye’s
a dark lake, and flickers.

A flax crop in Lawn Field

The flax crop in Lawn field is blossoming now.  Come and see it!  Flax is a very ancient crop, from which humans have made linseed oil and linen cloth.  This crop has been sown in association with Flaxmill Maltings in Shrewsbury, to create cloth.  In late July the flax will be pulled, then processed.  Meantime, I wrote a short poem.

Flax Acton Scott

Lawn Field

 

Electric-blue damselfly
flickers up like a switch
in a sway of narrow stems
and modest flowers,
sky-fragments
scattered 
on this breathing field,
this rolling film of flax.

 

Come to Poems for the Farm!

Poetry Workshop plus me mrEveryone is invited to Poems for the Farm to celebrate the conclusion of Acton Scott’s 2014 Poet in Residence project with Jean Atkin (supported by Arts Council England and Shropshire County Council).  Poems for the Farm is on Saturday 19 July at 3pm at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm SY6 6QN.

Poets who contributed to the project will also be reading, plus a chance to see some of Andrew Fusek Peters‘ beautiful photographs.  If you’ve been to Acton Scott recently, and written a poem with Jean, or for the project – then please do get in touch.  We would love to see you on the 19th – and if you like you can read your poem out too.

 The event is free (hooray!) but please book your place (to be on the list for a free cream tea! To book sign up to this FB event or contact Jean.

Come and hear poetry from many voices!