Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Poetry/cake please

It strikes me how many Quakers are poetry lovers/writers. Or at least that's how it seems to me. In our newsletters, here on the blog, and now Roger's poem in The Friend.

So, it shouldn't surprise you that I had a lovely conversation about poetry after Meeting this past week. Partially about Roger's poem, but not just and not just really although I liked his poem and could publish a post just on why I like what he wrote down and pulls out of experiences for me (thank you for reminding me of the blue shirt). I like this about Quakers though, this word-and imagery-loving-ness.

I went home smiling about that and then I almost literally tripped over a poem I wrote last summer (well the book it was in) not about Quaker worship but because I had been trying to describe how the sacred occurs at other times.

And I felt inspired by that talk and by Roger to rewrite it...and then share it. I wonder how many of you have poems about Quakers too? How many poems are there in newsletters or in closed pages or whispered on tongues but never spoken aloud? Wouldn't it be nice to publish/re-publish some of them here together?

Anyways, must run...am off to - what else - a talk on poetry :-).

Quaker cakes
by Nadine Wills

It's the sifting together
deliciously layered
that somehow reveals
strawberry smiles.

It's in the brought-ness
this done thing - sharing -
waiting to be undone.
Because it was brought
now a mostly empty space
in place of that sweet offering.

And everyone ate
a daffodil sun
dappled chocolate fingers
sometimes we didn't talk
as children
hopped around us.
And perhaps
in moments
small as fairycakes
nothing matters.

But we ate.
We came together and we ate
what was offered to us
with all those hands and tastes.
All those times,
with all those Friends,
we ate.
We ate Quaker cakes.


Laura Kerr said...

Quakers are also it seems extremely fond of cakes. The subject of cakes, one way or another, comes up pretty frequently. I used to have some thought about meeting for worship being like cake, with the spoken ministry being like icing on the cake. But something else (in my mind, at that time...) was the cherry on the icing on the cake... And now, for the life of me, I cant think what the cherry would have been.

Nadine Wills said...

Am intrigued now to know what the cherry is too. The interruptions?

Laughed when I saw the poem because am sure I thought I was being terribly inventive when I first wrote it...but need to get in line obviously. Since writing that realise have had so many conversations about the importance of cake and cake-as-metaphor (even at Bookclub) that really have nothing to do with me or my poetry so it must be something more...possibly Quaker-related :-)? Or just an adjunct of drinking tea (now coffee)/being social/feeling at "home" together in England? Not sure.

Nadine Wills said...

Okay, your cherry comment been making me think Laura.

Thought sometimes those coughs etc. make the silence seem deeper but draw attention to the fact you are together. But then thought for me maybe it's the sense of the meeting sometimes? Can this term be used in this way? Or is it really used more after Meetings for Business I wonder? But Meetings for Worship do tend to fit into overall themes/senses that have nothing to do with individual emotions and what people have said. Is this the right way to apply this then?

Anyway am doing the Becoming Friends course and am looking up words etc. to make sure I really understand them so "centring down" into super nerd mode here. Thanks for posting this Laura. Enjoyed thinking about this. Here's an interesting blog post on the sense of the meeting in broader contexts as well, interesting:


Craig Barnett said...

Hi Nadine,
Thanks for your beautiful poem!
Sometimes Friends refer to the 'exercise of the Meeting' as the theme that sometimes emerges during Meeting for Worship, when different Friends' spoken ministry gradually leads towards deeper 'layers' of insight. Could this be the cherry? (or maybe it's the notices...)

Ray K said...

I love poetry too. Mary Oliver is a favourite. I'm reading her collection "Thirst" at the moment. Quakers will like the following poem -


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

S Fred Langridge said...

Thanks for sharing this: it's lovely.

Nadine Wills said...

I appreciate this term Craig, thanks. It's not one I would have known how to use.

That is a wonderful poem. Thank you Ray. I haven't read Mary Oliver but this makes me want to explore her. I remember last year Maurice spoke about one of her poems in Meeting and that really struck me as well. A couple lines stuck with me as I think some will from the poem you've just quoted here. This is the one Maurice spoke of, I'm not sure if it's in the same collection.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Laura Kerr said...

That poem is wonderful, thankyou Nadine, and Maurice and Ray and Mary Oliver and all the others too in this chain of connectedness. I am just back from a weekend at Woodbrooke on 'Sex and the Spirit' and those fourth and fifth lines are incredibly powerful and pertinent. Plus Woodbrooke has great food, including cake.