Here at Penlee we were very pleased to be involved with the 2015 Penzance Literary Festival, which ran from 8-11 July. As part of a programme of 'fringe' events, we hosted a poetry workshop for adults run by award-winning poet Katrina Naomi. The workshop focused on using the amazing paintings at Penlee as inspiration for writing poems. We also had 'a pocketful of poems' in the gallery; pockets full of ideas for writing inspired by Penlee and its collections. Here are some of the results:
A day In Their Life
A time in the past we do not know,
The evidence in pictures is there to show.
Their life, the people and the clothes they wore.
Their work, their earnings, their scenery and their shore,
The childrenâ™s toys simplistic but dear,
Their work contribution, âœclean the glass clearâ.
The young education âœall hats must be wornâ,
Be grateful for learning, behave or be scorned.
Old women with fish, decisions to make,
âœWhich is yours? Which is mine? Please place your stake.
Tears of young wives, their husbands lost,
The toils of the fishermen, their lives, its cost.
The weather, when sunny, the country views,
The sunlight, the skyline, the tones and the hues,
The greens and blues of the land and sea,
Against the pale, pallor skins of the locals to be.
The rain beaten faces, the storm torrent waves,
The greys of the stormâ™s water pounding the paves.
Whether Taylor or Forbes, Meade or Stokes,
Theyâ™ve captured these lives with their square tipped strokes.
So take a visit to the â˜Cornish Lightâ™,
Allow yourself to take in the sight,
And you will be there, a long time ago,To a time in the past you now will know
After 'The Rain it Raineth Every Day'
âœWell it was last week, me and the daughter had just dodged into a shop out of the rain â“ wouldnâ™t be in there normally â“ it sold paints and brushes â“ you know, artistsâ™ stuff. Anyway, this man came up and asked if weâ™d model for him, me! Of all people! Anyway, he said it would be alright and heâ™d pay a shilling for our time â“ well, I thought Iâ™d take a chance, things are tight, what with my husband gone and all.
We went to his house, there was a big room upstairs, with a window, he said it was his studio â“ full of half finished paintings, brushes, paints â“ a lot of it on the walls, he had two lovely dogs and all. He showed ma a half finished painting of the Sea front â“ I thought, I know just where that is. I used to clean in some of those big buildings â“ quite near the church it was.
Anyway he said we were going to be in the painting and he needed to draw us firstâ”sort of get the right size I suppose â“ we had to stand facing him, I had an open umbrella behind me, over one shoulder, the girl in front of me had to look straight at the man, and not move. After what seemed hours he got me to stand on my own, more or less facing away from him, still with the open umbrella over one shoulder; eventually heâ™d finished and showed us the drawings, heâ™d put some paint on but they werenâ™t finished like, he also showed where in the picture weâ™d be, and paid me a shilling, and a penny for the daughter, she was so pleased.
As we left we thought it would be fun to find the exact spot on the promenade where we stood in the painting; I couldnâ™t find it exactly as the buildings didnâ™t seem to be in exactly the same places as in the painting â“ I suppose artists do that to suit their picture or something.
Anyway, it was still raining, seems like it does every day, sea breaking over the railing so we found a shelter and had a piece of cake to celebrate; as I sat there I thought there was something funny about the umbrellasâ”first off, I was shielding the rain from behind me, with the daughter; second off â“ facing the other way â“ the umbrella was shading rain from the other directionâ”anyway round here knows the wind almost always comes from the south west â“ from the Scillies â“ I think he was a foreigner and didnâ™t know this"â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
The Quarry Team
Molly Clemens, aged 12
Down the everlasting road,
Clip, Clop, Clip, Clop,
Thatâ™s the sound the Horses made,
In their aim to reach home.
In the distance you could see tiny bird,
You can hear them singing a merry tune,
All farms around could hear them sing,
This was a sweet song, as sweet as flowers.
Behind you, there were walkers marching here and there,
Making loud, bang, bash, bang, bash sounds,
This was with there large boots,
They would be heard all over town!
When Thereâ™s Life Thereâ™s Hope
Molly Clemens, Aged 12
â˜Wa, Wa, Waâ™, wailed a new born in a basket,
Clip clop, went horses galloping down the road,
We tried to calm the baby,
But she wouldnâ™t.
We told the neighbour to quieten the horse,
But this wouldnâ™t happen.
Then the wind swept up,
The pots and pans rattled,
And the little child got more restless.
Then the wind stopped,
The horse stopped,
And so did the Baby.
All was silent!
â˜Itâ™s difficult sometimes to know whatâ™s best, she
canâ™t make up her mind what she wantsâ™.
â˜Once these two have decided then we can get on with itâ™
â˜I want to go home Mumâ™
â˜Look with One eyeâ™, can you see your brother?â™
â˜When are they going out to Sea?â™
'They are becalmed my beauty'
â˜Which one can I have?â™ â˜Shh you will wake themâ™
â˜This oneâ™s mine, are they boys or girls,
â˜I think theyâ™re going to be lovely to us, hope so.â™
'Where's our Mum gone?'
The Harbour Bar
By Henry E.G Field
There once was a young man from Par,
Who came to Penlee for a pint at the Harbour Bar,
But while he was waiting he realised it was a painting,
So he left to by a six pack from the Spar.
Inspired by â˜A Hopeless Dawnâ™
soft glow quicker
than any rolling tear
Woven gown draped in folds
while aged gull holds
a weeping child
Yes, a child in face
Cast from gentle lace
Yet married still
Married to a fallen man
Who, though sodden can,
Bring love to a weeping child.
The magic garden comes and
goes, all made by a sparkling
rose. The rose shreds gold
from time to time, but its
thorns become sharper as
it climes. The bees in the
garden like that rose, and
gather magic when it grows.
The bees make honey in
their hive, from the pollon of
lavenda, origonaly from St Ives.
beside the hive is a nest, belonging
to all the ants, whoâ™s jobs are to
find sugar, and travel to
Penzance. I found that
magic garden, and travelled
with the ants. I travelled
with them very far, right to
Penzance. I found that
magic garden, and made
honey with the bees, and
found lavenda in the garden, just beside some trees.
In the distance
By Ida Corner, age 8
In the distance, there's a road
thatâ™s very windy and goes on and
on and on and on the road. Thereâ™s
a child thatâ™s very winy and goes on
and on and on.
By Ida Corner, age 8
Raindrops, raindrops, falling on my head
why do you feel so cold, like the rushing of the wind
like the splashes of snow when they melt?
Why do you feel so wet
like when you jump into the shower?
Why do you feel so nice
like the freshness of when youâ™ve got out of the bath?
Like the sweetness of an ice cream Sunday?
The sound of the sea
The relentless enemy
The place where we
A carrierâ™s life is a hard one
Driving horses- thereâ™s no sun
Working hard from morn to night
Harnessed horses- what a sight
Work is over for the day
Rake over shoulder, bag in hand
The maid passes through flowered meadow
Whilst cattle stand, stacks show
A successful day, as working days go.
A peaceful scene, cows drink their fill
Evening skies above winter trees
You could hear their feet in the water
Causing ripples on the breeze.
An old cart by the tree of blossom
Whilst ducks tread the path beneath
Water trickles peacefully over stones
Life eternal, never to cease.
The dog in front is so striking
Leading lady with bracken. Full cart
Winter surrounds them, muddy road
A companionable trio,
A donkey pulls the load.
As he looks out, with experienced eyes
A wealth of knowledge held within
The sight of sea and sailing ships
The seriousness of life, on his lips.
A lad steps forward, bravely he volunteers
Stormy seas around, lives to save
His mother, worried, â˜Noâ™, she cries
Yet, more families will have tears in their eyes
For ever, lives are taken by the restless waves.
A line to the past,
A long lean into the present
Arm rest reverie
Gripping finger support whilst my crows nest bobs away
Clanking, gulls cry, the tang of corroding saltiness
Furtive jolt from my belly
Does the sea smell queasy?
Internal hidden industry nibbles away
I watch the premonition of heavily cargoed, laden boats arrive in port,
teeming with energy
Breath sharply, smooth down my dress
Only a secret stare to the near future
Everyday sheâ™s down Granferâ™s garden -
never mind me
with three more girls than â˜er
to put clean clothes on their backs,
food on their plates.
Dinnerâ™s stewing on the slab
or whereâ™s the next meal cominâ™ from?
Come â˜ome yesterday soakinâ™ wet,
â˜er clothes drip-dripinâ™
as the candle shivered so thin
I couldnâ™t stitch and mend no more.
I â˜ad to stop and face the waves of dark
batterinâ™ my kitchen,
the tide we still hope will bring
his old boots back to scatter fish scales
over my new rag rug.
I fight for the right of red
amongst the dreer of grey,
the toil of black,
brown which wears well
and wipes its feet at the door.
I could make this whole room sing
not just whisper on her jubilee hat,
flame her from shoulder to ankle;
never let her sun set but shimmer
scarlet, carmine, crimson
to fill every shadow of her life
with the secret colour
of her arteries.
The endless blue sky is bliss
While the waves boom and hiss
The sea â“ a shade of turquoise
And me, a frolicking porpoise
Blond children and bronzed grandparents
Civil servants and city gents
Weâ™re all innocents here
On the Cornish riviÃ¨re
Oh! how wonderful these Paintings
How wonderful they are, from
The Old Pilot (1884) til Uncle Dick
The poor woman from A hopeless dawn (1888)
losing her fisherman husband, and the
poor parents losing their sick child of
the picture Where thereâ™s life thereâ™s hope
A day in the life of anyone,
Is a hard choice to choose,
Would you be a celebrity, go to Timbuktu?
Or would you just be you?
A day in the life of anyone,
Is an unlikely choice to make,
It is a gamble on where you could end up,
But it is up to you.
oh to be a Narwhal
A Narwhalâ™s never glum
He swims amongst the fish
In oceans wild and deep
The spike he has upon his head
Makes up for having no feet