Last week was taken up with a fascinating training course on coaching skills that I attended as part of the Cultural Leadership Programme. It challenged a lot of my assumptions about how to work with people and encouraging creative thinking, and also linked back to earlier training I have done in the field of psychotherapy. I think the main thing that I took away from the training was the idea that people have their own answers and that a good coach encourages someone to use this knowledge and bring it into awareness. The course also made me realise the power of metaphor – whether it be the themes in some-one’s life story, or within literature. Often we decode this information without really realising it. Coaching, or examining a poem very closely can bring this skill to the fore.
I have also performed some poetry with ‘Poets with a Kick’ for International Women’s Day at the Mansion House in Doncaster. This event launched an amazing cloak of women’s lives and stories put together by artist Jan Flamank. I particularly liked the way she had used frayed edges in the textile peice to suggest that fact that our lives are untidy and follow different threads.
The project was called Yarns and was a Hothouse commission. I read a range of poetry about personal journeys – and one that I have written very recently that features Benezia Bhutto:
27th December, 2007
Stubbled men in flak-jackets
catch my eye, but don’t speak –
a tilt of the head, snares tucked
under their arms. The mole-catcher
with his heart-shaped spade, his battered Rover,
grins as he swings my gate wide.
The Sweep tells me the mid-feathers are fucked,
thrusts a body he’s plucked from the chimney
into my arms, wings stiff with frost.
Outside, air’s thick with cordite.
Shots boomerang across the moors,
Beaters are out in force, spattered in peat.
I’m failing to light a fire, flick the switch
on the radio. The world tilts East.
Her voice is tremulous,
as she waves from her Land Cruiser
‘I’ve been counting the days, hours, seconds..
waiting for clear skies. Pakistan is in my blood.’
A pheasant stutters out of the beech wood.
She’s a poor flyer, grazes a car bonnet
before crash-landing in the thicket.
Don’t stretch up your feathered neck,
don’t stroll across the top field, hen
don’t you know it’s open season?’