Poet in Residence
Seni Seneviratne, our 2012 Poet in Residence, has created a set of poems using the Festival audience’s contributions to the poetry hotspot.
AN OLD TYPEWRITER
An old typewriter, bought for two quid at a car boot sale
could grow your imagination large enough to push open
the doors of ignorance. It could let you take your mind
everywhere and still leave you belonging, right where you
are at any moment, with room to expand beyond the doors
of perception or the place where cloth meets circumstance.
You could follow the Perigree moon when it hangs above
the horizon until you reach the purple mountains where
sensimilla flowers are opening. If you forget the clocks
with unmoving handles, you could pass through time, lighten
your steps, let go of old longings, and still carry your keys
in a bag of dreams. At the cornerstone, you could take the path
to the place where birds build nests from the bones of trees.
But if you sleep in the mouth of the moor, don’t let it swallow you.
And watch out for cows! They have been known to stampede.
Beyond the borders
of Yorkshire, through doors that are
pointless and glass doors
where I see out but
no-one can see in, across
a landscape of love,
to swim with bright fish
at the edges of the world,
I sail a moon boat
to the farthest reach
of my imagination
and then back again.
What is called Empire was always on the wrong side
of humanity. The language and people of our skin
had to cross borders, risking all, whatever season,
whatever fears, to explore the limits of their horizon.
And those who could only dream, hoped it was in colour
and looked for signs of life written in the bark of trees.
Someone had the sense
at the Poetry Hotspot
to set the margins
get that tap and ting
of good old typing. After
so long to see the
words break down into
bricks when pressed out with each push.
Jerry built ink-house.
Where the ribbon leads,
I follow. And look, outside,
faces fly with wings.
OUT OF THE BOTTLE
For years I lived inside myself, now I am out
of the bottle, I dance in the ocean’s current,
the fresh salt spray, the foamy fountain of life.
I belong between here and there and I won’t let
the doors of deceit or doubt keep me locked out
of life. I have seen a world beyond and it glows.
A girl in yellow shoes, written in a landscape
of love, a garden started but not finished,
two thousand books and still counting, crossing
fear on the other side of Empire, with the sound
of a cut-short good morning, drinking espresso
like liquid liquorice and my life is still singing.
Often heard but how often do we wonder?
About the signs of life written in the bark,
telling us the ways of the forest? Or the light
shining in our eyes that stops us from seeing
what’s on the other side? Or the grey of the sky
in the morning, the hint of a raindrop to come,
the sign of the raised eyebrow and the pursed lip?
Seán Hewitt’s Ilkley Literature Festival Crowdsourced Poem
Apprentice Poet in Residence, Seán Hewitt, has created a crowdsourced poem on the theme of the Yorkshire Dales.
Lost among the flat
Green grey trees and ancient stones
are our endless, numbered days,
and all the endless nonsense of time,
and being left to think that, after all,
most of them were very old grasshoppers.
Push further and clasp the soil,
Shifting through tree roots,
Sifted by grasses and earthworms
A thin wrapper layering me in;
And perched on top,
Two fools shouting at the wind.
A multivalent tongue-scape for
The mouth to grabble with.
Opening, to cast its spittle
Across the clough’s foggy
Pebbles and the dene’s drizzled wood.
I come open with words words words…
You’d never know
Oakdale takes its name
to see trees
from kept grass.
Struggling to soak up and assert
themselves over the scraggy slade and
Vast moor. A throaty strath of globoid
Vowels and the clombe’s clipped consonants.
People are proud here.
They’ve their old ways,
their new houses,
and no Tesco…
Crowds gather like clouds.
Is there a storm brewing?
Or something we can be proud
Of? Something to be wowed
By? Something loud?
What did I know of you, Yorkshire Dales?
Nowt (or is that “owt”?) until yesterday
at the Cheese Show in Frome, your eponymous
ice cream van urged me in friendly tone
to please pay a visit to your parlour.
The queue was so long it must be worth the trip
from Somerset to Bolton Abbey.
Nose your way up further still
And find the sea in me
still audible and ringing around.
There is a silence here,
Contributors: Stephen J Hackett, Claire Fuller, T Crotogino, MsJinnifer, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Andrew Connolly, Patrick Sykes, Ben Comeau
You can also read through Seni and Sean’s tumblr of poetry and images online here.
More about Seni Seneviratne and Seán Hewitt…
Born and raised in Leeds, Seni Seneviratne is of English and Sri Lankan Heritage; her work as a writer, poet, performer, singer and creative artist is internationally acclaimed, having given readings and performance workshops in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa and Egypt.
As a critically acclaimed poet, her work has been showcased in the groundbreaking Bloodaxe anthology Ten: new poets from Spread the Word, a collection championed by Carol Ann Duffy. Her debut collection, Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin (Peepal Tree Press, March 2007) offers “a poetic landscape echoing themes of migration, family, love and loss”. Highly Commended in the Forward Poetry prize, her work has also been shortlisted in the 2010 Arvon International Poetry Competition. Her second collection, The Heart of It (Peepal Tree Press, April 2012), writes Mimi Khalvati, “is a tender, moving collection, full of passionate intensity and an unswerving faith in the power of reconciliation and love”.
Follow Seni online at www.seniseneviratne.com
Recently graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English, emerging poet Seán Hewitt has been published in a number of magazines including, Agenda, The Shop, Northwords Now, Crannóg, The Cadaverine and The Mays XIX. In 2011, he won the Rima Alamuddin Prize, and he has recently been nominated for a Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. As the Apprentice poet in Residence, Seán spent the Festival shadowing Seni and staged his own event.
You can follow Seán’s blog at www.seanehewitt.com