I’m just back from a rewarding morning making poems at Coldwells House, a care home near Hereford. Today there was a group of a dozen, quite a few of whom I’d met before, but not seen for three months. I took in copies of an Eric Ravilious print ‘Wiltshire landscape’ (1937).
We all talked about the picture, and what it meant, and what everyone saw in it, while I took furious and punctuation-free notes on a clipboard. It often helps to squat down next to an older person to talk and listen, so I did quite a lot of that. I try to record exactly what someone says, in their own words.
Then I read back what we had – and there were some additions to write in.
While the group of a dozen drank their tea, I knelt on the carpet and cut up my three sheets of A4 scribbles, and began to move them around – a quick edit on the ground – literally. Then I got the sellotape out and stuck them altogether. Everyone enjoyed watching this!
Then we read it all again. And again. There was so much smiling and nodding.
At home, I’ve done a final edit (I don’t add any words, but move words around and select a bit). Then I’ll email the finished poem to the Home for them to show to the participants, and put on the wall. I’ll be back to see everyone in a few weeks.
Meantime, here’s an extract from the end of our poem:
I’m sure I’ve been in a place like that.
Here’s the question. Where does that road lead to?
This is a main road and this is a side road.
The sky looks rather depressing.
All these hills and only the van on its way.
We can’t see where he’s going.
But that’s nice. I hope I can get through it.
The telegraph poles go far away.
We’ll have to wait and see.
To be honest I have to think straight through
to my mother, or father.
It’s lovely, a beautiful place.
A road going home.