In my first post for this residency, I talked about the power of poetry to draw attention to the significance of what might otherwise be overlooked, and I asked for contributions to help me write a poem about small positive things. I am very grateful to everyone who added their small good things to my Google Form; I was overjoyed to receive 26 responses. People really embraced the spirit of what I was asking and it brought me a lot of joy to read through all your responses.
I particularly enjoyed spotting unexpected connections between people’s responses: the two people who mentioned bees, the three who mentioned shoes, another three who mentioned birds. People who probably don’t know each other and who may never meet are linked by the little things they can find pleasure in. That in itself seems like a small good thing to me.
Writing with other people’s ideas and words was an interesting new process for me, and a surprisingly challenging one. In the poems below, I tried to preserve the original language of the responses as much as possible, because I think there is a power to people expressing their own experiences in their own words. I did, however, rephrase some things and pick out particular sections to make the poems work.
I picked out a few individual contributions to make into little poems with a haiku structure (5 syllables, then 7, then 5 again). Haiku are a nice compressed form for focusing on a moment or idea, making them ideal for the kind of poetic display case that I talked about in my first post.
Warm splodges of rain,
how they colour the pavement.
Smell of hot tarmac.
How small their homes can be
Nipping back and forth
under red tiles, small birds
feed twittering chicks.
My first drive in years:
sun setting behind houses,
warm night, windows down.
Light beyond our comprehension
When the moon peeks through
the curtains’ gap, I dream of
Never not brilliant
I also combined many of the contributions into a longer poem, which you can read below. As I read through the responses, a few broad themes emerged, which I used to help group them: nature, food, light, other people. I wouldn’t go so far to claim I can draw any findings about what people value from this limited sample, but its still nice to see those commonalities.
I haven’t referenced every single response in this poem. This wasn’t because of a judgement on the quality of the responses; instead it was down to my attempts to make the ideas flow together well and without too many repeating images. If I haven’t included your response, rest assured that I did still read, enjoy and appreciate it.
In my mind, there’s a kind of defiance in that irrepressible joy.
The title of this poem comes from one response which said “Crunchy leaves are never not brilliant.” I liked that phrase: not just good but brilliant, not just brilliant today but never not brilliant. It has a different kind of power to ‘always brilliant’. In my mind, there’s a kind of defiance in that irrepressible joy.
“Trees that look like they grant wishes” was another response that intrigued me. What did those trees look like? The image in my mind is probably different from what the writer saw, and probably different from what you’re imagining too. Maybe that is part of the power of poetry; we can all see something different in it, but it can still feel very much real.
Whether you contributed to the form or have simply read my posts, thank you for being part of my residency. I hope your days are full of things – big or small – that are never not brilliant.