November Musings by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
Rain has been a predominant feature of the autumn so far. There is all sorts of rain, from torrential downpours to mizzle often. There can be both on the same day, being British weather. Here is a poem I wrote last year, inspired by rain.
Rain spattered against the window
like a disappointment
Helen Dunmore, A Spell of Winter
Each drop is coursing its way down
the pane to collect in a slight pool.
They could be tears on my face,
spilling from eyes to cheeks,
their saltiness reaching my lips.
It wasn’t always like this. Before,
I could look out at this view
and enjoy the contours of the hills.
A March morning and the early blush
of spring would be creeping along
the hedgerows, blackthorn blossom
frosting white. Now I see absence
and only hear the whisperings
of what might have been.
The poem was triggered by reading words from a novel by the wonderful writer Helen Dunmore, which I have acknowledged in the epigraph. I really recommend Dunmore’s collected tenth and last poetry book before she died, ‘Inside The Wave’ published by Bloodaxe.
I quite often write about nature, having grown up on a farm and living in the county of Suffolk, which has a great variety of land and seascapes. For some reason, I find it more difficult to write from an ecological perspective. Recently, I was given a recommendation to read Second Light’s anthology Fanfare, particularly the first section, ‘The Planet, ’ which deals with the natural world. It has been interesting reading how different poets have tackled the topic; some have written overtly eco poems, others have taken a gentle side-swipe. As a result, I wrote a couple of new poems, but I would still like to open up more about how I can approach these issues in my poems.
If you are interested in eco poetry, read Julian Bishop’s excellent collection, We Saw It All Happen, which came out recently. I reviewed this for London Grip in June 2023. You might also like to know about the Poets for the Planet group, which has been very active over the last few years, e.g., organising a reading relating to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Glasgow in 2022. I visited the venue in Glasgow then and was struck by how little other cultural input there was to such a major event, which was surely a missed opportunity. The next COP (28) takes place in Dubai at the end of this month. The Australian poet Cath Drake is also notable in this area, and I enjoyed her book, ‘The Shaking City,’ published by Seren, which I reviewed for London Grip in October 2020.
I will end on a Cornish note. I have just enjoyed a gig in Suffolk by the singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid, who lives in Penzance. She is just finishing a busy tour of the UK, and her last gig is at the Burrell Theatre in Truro on 2nd December. I liked the way she took domestic moments and turned them into song lyrics, something poets can also be very good at doing.
If you would like to contact me to comment or follow up, please send me an email via the contact box on my website. You can also contact me to buy a signed copy of my books Sleeping Under Clouds (Clayhanger Press) and A City Waking Up (Dempsey and Windle).
Sue Wallace-Shaddad was born and brought up in Suffolk and now lives there. Sue has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University with the Poetry School London. She is Secretary of the Suffolk Poetry Society, organizes poetry events and reads her poetry regularly in venues around Suffolk. Sue is the digital writer in residence for Causley Trust’s ‘The Maker’ blog.