During the creation of new poems my main focus tends towards the natural world and the unending joy of it. Even before the pandemic I was a keen walker and now I feel the need to have a healthy walk every day, whenever possible. Being immersed in a nature walk is definitely an antidote to the strangeness and unnerving events of the last year or so. I count myself lucky that where I live in Hampshire, there are welcoming parks within easy reach.
One of my poems ‘Park Pleasures’ is in my collection 'Touching the Outer Edges’ and features one such place of wonder. It's probably one of my all-time favourite parks as it has a bit of everything. There are two small lakes, plenty of trees (including wondrous willows) and a selection of waterfowl, birds, and fish. In the poem I pay tribute to the blackbird in particular, who "comes into view, gracing me with his observance". I wanted to bring to the fore the feeling of being close to nature, being connected to it and experiencing its healing properties. I distil this in the last verse in the lines: “To be renewed, regenerated and reset, as though the park had worked a magic spell”.
I think there’s so many avenues you can explore within nature. It never fails to surprise, to delight, enliven and sometimes shock us. There is the sheer wonder of spotting a butterfly and noting how it closes its wings, to reveal its markings. There is the rush and thunder of a river, hearing the current as it speeds by. There are the silky, cheeky, and sometimes comical moves of a squirrel in April looking for the nuts it buried in the previous winter. All these sights and sounds fill our minds and contribute to our wellbeing, even if we are not immediately aware. It's those moments of awe and serenity that I home in on and try to convey to my reader.
Exploring another one of these avenues we could talk endlessly about the climate emergency and how we need to protect nature from the onslaught of destruction and pollution. I feel very strongly that we need to do more to save our planet. It feels like Covid-19 has shown us that we should have a re-think and a reset when it comes to the environment (and everything that it encompasses). It has seriously made us reassess our relationship to the natural world in ways. In my poetry I try to convey this need to act. Maybe it is about getting a message across, although I endeavour not to be preachy. I always want to be truthful and genuine in my writing. It is important to me to pay tribute to the elements of nature as I observe them and relay them with a clear voice. I’m often compelled to write some lines when I’ve seen a documentary about climate change or natural disaster. The plight of humans and of the Earth is always playing on my mind. Weaving this into an engaging poem is often a challenge.
Overall, I am an observer of nature and a friend to it where I can be, seeking to always extol its beauty and its fragility. I’ll end the post here with a picture of me in one of my favourite places - Basing Fen nature reserve in Basingstoke.