I always make time for poetry on Fridays, preferably with a mug of tea. This week's reading material is Jane McLauglin's prize winning first collection, Lockdown, which is being published by Cinnamon Press this weekend.
I am really enjoying Jane's use of imagery and the way her poems capture moments like snapshots. As I'm not able to go to the launch at the 'Made in Greenwich' gallery I have to content myself with reading the poems. My favourite one, so far, is
Learning about Potatoes
On the convent vegetable patch, habit hitched up.
These are Edzell Blue she says, clearing the violet skins
of mud, clagged by August rains. I remember her holding
them, Inca jewels, digging and teaching.
You should learn these things. Theirs were purple too,
but yellow inside. The Quechua word is papa.
She’d pile them into the wicker trug, a violet pyramid,
stack the spent haulms on the heap to rot.
Then pray to her garden saint, headless St Martin de Porres,
found under the convent hedge. A pot of wallflowers
and a prayer against the Late Blight, Phytophthora Infestans.
‘Think now of what you eat, and the million dead.
They still turn up bones on my father’s farm.
Food enough for all, but shipped away
to feed foreigners. And they had not a clean tuber
the length of the land.
I remember a Mayo nun in her grey cotton apron
pitching the piled weeds onto the barrow
and crying with the pain of those who lay
where they fell. In the late summer light
she digs with the fierceness of one betrayed
by men and seasons, thanks God for her violet potatoes,
holds her trug of Edzell Blue
like a lost child found.
I used this earlier in the week as a prompt for a writing exercise with my Wing Writers which was very well received. We could all see and hear that nun with her trug of potatoes and her fierce determination. You can read a few more of Jane's poems here and buy a copy of Lockdown here.
Have a good weekend.
Alice Oswald at the BBC
13 hours ago