Telling the soul's tales
Judy Gahagan and Suffolk Poetry Society
Othona is a magical place at the very north of the Dengie Peninsula, Essex. It is not only magical because of the ancient Roman Fort (3rd Century) and the Saxon Chapel of St Peter, founded in 654 by Saint Cedd. It is not only magical for its rare birds, (Short toed tree creeper, Marsh warbler), its mammals, (the Otter and Brown hare), and its flora (Sea barley, Sea Kale and Golden Samphire). Othona is also magical because of its basic accommodation, which still makes me smile, its fabulous staff and the wonderful time we all had together, including the time when we all watched a full rainbow stretch across the sky.
But what about the poetry?
On our first night, Judy Gahagan, a distinguished Psychologist and Poet, lead us through an interesting discussion, at times quite lively, on various psychological issues. Being poets, though, we soon wanted to get down to the writing and this began on the Saturday.
If it hadn't been the night before, the reason for the psychological discussion now became clear. Judy had been exploring the psychological background of "Transformation". It was argued that "Telling the Soul's Tales", the title of our weekend, could only be told as poetry if literal accounts of "problems" could be "transformed" into metaphorical and poetic images. Judy went on to introduce themes, such as "depression", "fear and dread", "masks", using lines and part lines from songs or plays and then challenged us to start writing transformational poems. For example, the first line Judy introduced us to was "hallo darkness my old friend" which related to "depression, melancholy etc".
During the last session, we each read out a few stanzas of the poem that we were working on. Truly, the quality was high. Many part poems were shared in a safe and secure environment and many people have felt able to share their finished poetry amongst the group.
So it is a big thank you to Othona — may we return someday soon.
It is a big thank you to Judith Wolton of Suffolk Poetry Society for her hard work.
And it is a very big thankyou to Judy Gahagan, who has helped us approach writing poetry in new ways and with fresh inspiration.
Finally, thank you to all the Poets who attended. You made it a very special weekend.