Thursday, 7 October 2010

Patchwork Poem for National Poetry Day 2010

Our project to produce a Patchwork Poem for National Poetry Day 2010 is now complete, and the poem is below. My thanks to all 43 respondents for submitting lines to go into the final poem - from established Scottish poets such as Sheila Templeton and Eleanor Livingstone to a group of schoolchildren from Aberdeenshire and attendees at an Adult Learning Centre on the West Coast. We also had submissions from south of the border and as far away as Germany, which proves that the written word cannot be constrained by boundaries.

The poem takes one line from each sunbmission to form the overall poem, which hopefully moulds independent lines into a coherent finished product. It was certainly a challenge, but ultimately an enjoyable one.

The poem is also available as an attractive download, including colour images of 'natural tartan' provided by Terri Turner, a photographer from Perth (the Western Australian Perth rather than the Scottish one) and sourced through Flickr. Our thanks to Terri for the free use of these images. The poem can be downloaded as a 2-page A4 version here or as a poster-sized A3 copy here.

Now, the poem itself....

I Sing Of Bricks

Sometimes, when a person asks my place of birth,
I'm looking at my watch, planning my exit
with every beat in my step,
just waiting for the right time,
until eventually it's now, and here I am again,
where love lies, where I feel safe,
a building where I explore within myself,
created out of homelessness.
A place to go when I need to rest my head,
where my dreams float,
my happiness blows like an ember,
my door at the twist of its key falls open.

Tonight the wind gnaws and stabs with icy daggers,
grinding us the same relentless grey.
The wardrobe yawns shut, the blinds droop heavy lids.
You're behind me in the room, busy with music,
a masterpiece waiting to be born,
the melody in a score. You linger in backgrounds,
happy, mostly; open, always,
your voice merry at the necessity of sheltering.

Sometimes, in the corner of my eye, I see it, still,
a cupboard under the stairs and one locked drawer,
an alchemy of yellowed photographs, family in a freckled time-lapse,
the room that came alive when a coal fire was lit,
a glowing oil lamp, a warming hearth, a spacious kitchen,
a spoon that pirouettes gracefully across a non-stick dance floor.
Bath, bubbles, books and a glass of wine,
the night our skins finally touched
where hats were laid on grandma's feather mattress,
my love's hands, cool as wood.
A snapshot of paradise,
the tree of life, embroidered by me,
a discovery, whose beauty is ingrained forever
and, through its grace, I am welcomed home.

My thoughts now shape what once shaped me,
fingers pointing to the coming, the going,
the all-embracing hug of it, the lights-down-low relax of it,
such beauty by day and peace by night.
It remains as elusive as a falling star,
defiant as weeds between the paving.
Here I've bidden aa these years.
I will never be here bodily again.
The van? Packed. The house? Empty,
but if you return you've never left.


Helen Addy
Lauren Boyle
India Bruckner
Hazel Buchan Cameron
June Cadden
Mark Carlisle
Di Chorley
Jen Cosgrove
Amy Devlin
Irene Ewen
Robinette Featherstone
Pascale Free
Anne Gerono
Eddie Gibbons
Sally Hood
Alissa Jones Nelson
Helen Lawrenson
Pippa Little
Eleanor Livingstone
Anastasia Lumsden
Anne Mackley
Roderick Manson
Lyn Moir
Wendy Jane Muzlanova
Lucy Neil
Stella Pierides
Ann Prescott
Heather Reid
Lydia Robb
Martin Rowbottom
Anna Ruddiman
Kirsteen Scott
Elizabeth F Sinclair
Elizabeth Taylor
Judith Taylor
Michael Taylor
Sheila Templeton
Fiona Thackeray
Jacqueline Thompson
Anji Topping
Deborah Trayhurn
Christie Williamson
Erik Zoha

Poem collated by Andy Jackson

Images reproduced by kind permission of  Terri Turner


  1. Wonderful! Well done!
    And indeed, words have no borders...
    Happy Poetry Day

  2. Thanks Stella - glad you like it, and thanks again for your contribution!

  3. WOW really stunning and moving.Thanks again and here's to poetry !!

  4. On today, of all days, here's to poetry indeed! Thanks Helen...

  5. It's a fine atmospheric poem; well assembled from all the submissions - and thanks for including my own contribution. Erik

  6. It's really great, Andy! Well done :)

  7. I read 'I Sing of Bricks' at the Federation of Writers poetry event in Glasgow yesterday...and it went down a storm! It's brilliant.Like me, people marvelled at how such a beautiful and coherent poem could be put together from 43 different poem lines.Well done Andy! What a tribute to National Poetry Day.

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  9. Thanks Sheila, and Erik & Wendy too. It has really made my week to have the end product of all your work be so well received!

  10. Fanstastix! Well done Andy! I keep telling people that words are just stepping stones that bring us closer together:-) lol.m.xXx

  11. Thank you for letting me be a part of this even though I am not Scots, but I do have a passion for the country and there are a few connections on my family tree. Proud that my line was the title and even prouder to be mistaken for Walt Whitman. I thought this line was risky when I wrote it but everyone seems to love it. It is the title poem of my chapbook coming soon from the wonderful Salt publishing, which has a Scottish office. I'd love to come up and do a reading for you all up there.

  12. Anji, you're welcome! So glad you could contribute. Hopefully you'll get plenty of readings on the back of the chapbook, which I hope is a great success for you!

  13. Extremely well done! That must have been a huge task, so congratulations on such a successful outcome. Eleanor