The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.
I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.
~~ Phrases to savor ~~
“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)
“Our country is too small
for road trips.
There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)
“A dog barks itself
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)
“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray
Andrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.
Reprinted here from Andy’s blog:
After Speaking With A Parisian
Surviving Revolutions and World Wars, Notre Dame’s spire has long been a familiar sight to generations of Parisians, puncturing the capital’s skyline for over 800 years.
Back in the 1500s, the culture that we had built in the West embraced multigenerational projects quite easily. Notre Dame. Massive cathedrals were not built over the course of a few years, they were built over a few generations. People who started building them knew they wouldn’t be finished until their grandson was born.
Maybe it’s hubris, but we expect our creative monuments, our works of art, to last forever. Fixed points in man’s timeline.
Last night I spoke with a Frenchman, a Parisian, who was in mourning, speaking of a devastating cultural loss. I began to think of iconic buildings whose loss would affect we British people similarly. And then, as a Mancunian, a particular building in my own city, regularly seen but perhaps taken for granted by me.
I struggled to make a connecting comparison.
Then, the morning after that conversation, I woke to a photograph and an idea that, within all of last night’s images of destruction and despairing, I had lost touch with: there’s always hope.
For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.
Winter Solstice: a day with the least amount of sunshine potential; the shortest day and longest night; a time of reversals.
To me, the Winter Solstice feels more like the ending of the past year with the dawning of the true ‘new year.’ An organic New Year’s Eve, so to speak. What better time to reflect on the past year, letting go and easing into the ‘new year’ as each day from this point in time gains length.
With these reflections comes the announcement that this will be my final posting for 2018 with an undetermined first post date for the upcoming year. That’s just my convoluted way of saying I’m taking a blogging break!
That said, let us continue.
In reviewing my Morning Pages* over this past year I realized it has been a full and satisfying 12 months. No family or close friends died or declared any horrific medical diagnosis, the selling of my folks’ house went smoothly and the settling of their estate is almost completed, we visited and celebrated with family members and friends throughout the year and throughout the country, and the scary emergencies we did encounter were accompanied by His ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as we walked through those life-paths.
It seems we landed in a junction of respite from several years of elder care, personal pain, disappointments, grief and such.
Fielding the good with the bad, several themes** emerged as well – often revealing forward movement on goals, desires, hopes and dreams; working through the ups & downs of life; grappling with deeper issues in living a purposeful life.
Why then this lingering sense of sadness?
Is it the darkness? The longer nights and shorter days? Grey black skies, claustrophobic fog?
I relish this Winter Solstice evening – prolonged darkness, giving permission to hunker down, and delve into soul searching, validating this yearning to be still and listen to what the Lord through His creation and past events is speaking to me.
Then what is contributing to this heaviness, this disheartening sense of impotence in making a difference in life’s inequities?
Ah yes, of course. Events over this past year, worldwide and oh-too-to-close-to-home local happenings.
- Parkland school shootings, Las Vegas, Nevada concert shootings, synagogue slaughter, humble town of Florence, SC massacre and on & on infinitum…
- Manchester arena bombing anniversary representing terrorism in a free country with strict gun control.
- Never ending hordes of everyday people fleeing their beloved homeland for a safe place to stay alive…Syrians, Central Americans, Africans…
- Governments killing their own citizens in the name of advancing their own personal agenda.
- Free world border ‘wars’ using displaced, desperate persons, families & children as fodder for unwinnable negotiations.
- Increased homelessness in the midst of hardworking middle class professionals – and all the ramifications of undeserved shame while struggling to continue to survive in an ever increasing hostile American society.
- Constant bombardment of Trumpian Temper Tantrums affecting everyday Americans (sorry, I don’t normally specify political opinions…please give me latitude during this Winter’s Solstice)
And yet, this is all not new…the poor have always been with us, the rich and powerful have always manipulated laws to benefit themselves, increasing their wealth and opportunities, to the detriment of everyday people, and, what of the ever presence of war – always with us.
1968 was a bad year – Vietnam War, numerous assassinations, student protests…Decades earlier, WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Holocaust…
The world’s suffering is so personal.
And yet, I am reminded:
“God wastes nothing – not even our darkness”
*from which I am taking an indeterminate break also, after 28+ years of faithful jottings!
**my music, hubby’s new business, finding home, strengthening relationships…
For all the children who will not know
Laura Bruno Lilly, Andrew James Murray
~ 5/22/2017 ~
For all the children who will not know
the warmth of sunshine upon their cheeks;
the cold of dug snow-forts and candy-land castles.
For all the children who will not know
the slurpy free love of an old faithful mutt;
the drooly mouth kisses from kids of their own.
For all the children who will not know
the joy of youthful wanderings;
the joys of returning home.
Laura Bruno Lilly
~ 22/5/2017 ~
The flowers bloomed early
and were cut down by a cruel frost.
We all came together
– but at what cost?
For what was gained can’t be measured
against what was lost,
and those children will never know.
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
…A time to mourn,
And a time to dance…”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4b
Thank-you, Millie, my NOMA Dancer*
*My wish to dance in front of the NOMA Earth Tubes was first mentioned in a prior post found here. And fulfilled in proxy by Millie, my NOMA Dancer.
By now, my Manc Bee Badge is becoming a familiar sight to readers of this blog. I’ve alluded to the history and significance of the symbol, but never really wrote about it other than to link readers to its historical background.
In short, the worker bee is an emblem for Manchester, England symbolizing the city’s hard-working past. It was a hive of activity during the Industrial Revolution and workers were soon dubbed “busy bees”.
After the Manchester Arena bombing last year, it took on further significance as a public symbol of unity against terrorism.
The insects are an integral part of the city’s psyche: in representing its citizens’ character; in innumerable themed artworks scribbled and commissioned throughout its buildings and streets; and in a literal sense as a city devoted to urban beekeeping.
These bees are the gritty epitome of a warm, creative, yet down-to-earth community of over 2.5 million. Their history is not my history, but I strongly relate to this place. I’m not sure exactly why, but that fateful day’s event last year drew me in to this city and its people. And I can’t escape the connection I feel.
“And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns…
And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. That Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create…”
from: ‘This is the Place’ poem by Tony Walsh
words to the poem, “This is the Place” by Tony Walsh, as read in the video above
As previously mentioned here and here, a few months ago I pulled out my stash of 2½ x ? fabric strips leftover from decades of projects and delved into a diversionary tactic* of piecing together a scrap version of the Dora Quilt**.
As I began piecing the scrap-blocks, I realized I preferred the non-calico blocks which included one made out of a bee print fabric scrap. The scrappy Dora Quilt soon evolved into my Proud2Bee an honorary Manc wall hanging with its sole purpose as a means to display my precious Manchester Worker Bee Badge***. A humble gesture by this everyday American standing in solidarity with those affected by that horrific terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena – on children – May 22, 2017.
The top, ready for quilting, sat waiting for several weeks before I finally settled on the finishing details.
Using extra blocks as patches to experiment on, I explored a few of the decorative machine stitches on my Bernina and trying my hand at new-to-me methods of machine quilting using the walking foot attachment.
I really enjoyed finding designs from everyday sources and stitching with different types of threads.
Parallel to this experimentation, I found I had just enough of that scrap bee fabric to make into single Proud2Bee blocks to send to two compadres**** for use as a mini-wall hanging to display their own Manchester Bee Badges.
On my own Proud2Bee an honorary Manc wall hanging, I chose to use the machine blanket stitch for outlining areas of the pieced top and a wavy hand-guided stitch for the borders. Instead of a traditional rod pocket sleeve as sewn on the Proud2Bee mini-wall hangings, I tried out the corner method as shown in the photo to the left. I like it, but think it wouldn’t work as well with anything sized larger than 30 x 30.
As for the label…true completion comes with a label, IMHO (not that everything created by my own hands has been labeled). Signing and dating a quilt/wall-hanging piece are pretty basic and easy to slip in at the end of the project.
Personally, I like to add the name of the quilt/wall-hanging to the label also.
Thus piquing interest – starting conversations – priming the imagination.
Proud2Bee an honorary Manc LBL 2017
(examples of other named projects here, here, here, here and here)
*I needed a breather from other projects
**from: “3 Times the Charm!” by Me & My Sister Designs
***sent to me by my Manc buddy…for basic info on the Manchester Worker Bee as symbolic of the city and as honoring those killed go here
****you two know who you are!
As mentioned in a previous post, I needed a diversion from my Goat Suite (Saga) and Puffin Grant related tasks. I pulled out my stash of 2½ x ? fabric strips leftover from decades of previous projects and delved into piecing a scrap version of the Dora Quilt.
Happily sewing together strips into blocks I discovered the fabric scraps ordered themselves into a cohesive quilt top based upon print design rather than color.
While I got to play around with color possibilities using the color orange, most of the oranges occurred in the calico/flower type scrap fabrics. No matter how I arranged the blocks, those calico/flower prints just didn’t ‘play well’ with the more abstract, thematic and graphic scrap fabric prints.
I preferred the non-calico blocks and focused on the bee print fabric scrap. Placing it in the center block of the quilt top, it will be the perfect resting place for my precious Manchester Worker Bee Badge* pinned in the middle once completed. A humble gesture by this everyday American standing in solidarity with those affected by that horrific terrorist attack – on children.
Meanwhile, my taste for something orange had been awakened and needed to be satisfied ASAP. Instead of me creating something orange, I searched for something in a ready-made quilted coverlet. I found a luscious well-constructed one from Kohl’s. On sale, I also used coupons and Kohl’s cash and purchased it for a song…Extra bonus? It looks better than the marketing picture!
Through it all, the edits on the Goat Suite Saga vignettes are almost completed, the actual musical recording of my Goat Suite is ready to send on to be mastered, and the Final Report for my Puffin Grant got written and in the snail mail.
I am so ready for the New Year – how about you?
Note: Gonna be off-line for a while, so responses to comments might be delayed.
Will see ya in 2018!
To which he responded with a link to something called NOMA Earth Tubes.
NOMA? What the heck is that?
He further elaborated,
“The atrium is fundamental to the building’s ventilation strategy. Each of its three corners houses one of the building’s vertical service cores. Some 50m3/s of fresh air is sucked into the building from its landscaped forecourt through three giant earth tubes buried beneath the building; this helps temper the air, cooling it in summer and warming it in winter. Air is heated or cooled in a huge basement plant room before giant fans push it up the service cores to the floor plates.”