Thursday, 21 February 2013


Last night I ran a workshop for the poetry group I am a member of. I do this about once a month. It’s important to write and the challenge of being put on the spot makes me draw deep into where ever it is the poems lurk. It is good for my chops.

This time I asked them to look at a painting, Bruegel The Elders Peasant Wedding, then to write a poem from the perspective of one of the people in the painting. I got the idea from Mary Swander, in a book of poetry exercises.

I chose the musician who is looking longingly at the food as he plays his set of pipes. I thought him an inarticulate fellow with words but who played like an angel.

Interestingly, for most of the allotted time I could not complete the poem. I had the idea of the inarticulate man who finds voice in the instrument but voice to do what?  Then I thought of The Great God Pan and it fell into place. His task was to transcend the night and lead the dancers where ever.

As I polished the verse, as much as you can when the clock is against you, it occurred to me that I knew where I had got the idea of the shaman musician from. Bob Pegg, in his interview, mentioned how a poem in Palgrave’s Golden Treasury had inspired him, a poem about Pan. Then I remembered Art Pepper in the documentary Notes from a Jazz Survivor talking about his prison tattoos and the first one he had got was of Pan.

After such a build-up I’m not sure I want to share the poem!

in a pigskin bladder I found a voice
far more attractive than my words
it suited me in time to learn
to shape the drone to clothe their mood
finger patterns on scurrying chanter
will guide them through this hollow night
til sunrise bursts the music’s spell
ensares them in real life chains
then I will sigh and drain the cup
and set my foot toward the hill

Not sure yet what to make of it. Not so sure about the real life’s chains…
But the bones are there and I will set it aside for a while.

The photographs I took last weekend driving back from the northwest-I was the passenger when I took them. Again not sure of what I think but thought them worth sharing.

I am ending this week with an advert-the wonderful Emily Kraemer has a new album out-it is superb, as you would expect but don't take my word for it. You can download it from here for free! Treat yourself - have a good weekend.


  1. I love the concept behind your poem. There's something alluring about a musician who can influence people like that.

    Interesting pictures!

    1. The photographs capture something in their blurred glory. Thanks. i wanted the musician to only be really alive when he played.