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"a word contained in a grain of sand"

(a quote from the song 'Palaces of Montezuma' by Grinderman)





Back in 1999 I was invited to the Ayreshire Literature Festival, with a group of other poets and musicians. We were to hold a series of writing workshops and then perform in an evening of poetry and music. I had previously read in various venues in Leicester and was part of a small poetry group. But it was nothing like this. Naturally, I was a little nervous before reading. I tried to ignore the crowds, those eager faces waiting to be be inspired, fascinated by mine and my colleagues words. I read my poems and they were gratefully received, applause and all that. I came away feeling rather overwhelmed, terrified even, to the point of never reading in public again! That was a new kind of fear, the bearing of my soul to the world, to be consumed and analysed. It was a feeling I never wanted to reproduce and after a while I stopped writing, except for maybe the odd rhyming couplet scratched into a notebook.

More recently I have begun writing again, it's still a bit naive, while I find my feet and the natural flow, but I am beginning to recall the joy of putting a poem together, reading in my mind, the imagery, the sense of achievement, the relief when it's finished and not occluding my thoughts.


I'm not particularly eloquent, you can take the girl out of a council estate, but not the council estate out of the girl. Saying that, as many people have discovered, just because I don't use the right and proper word, does not mean I don't understand. I have been reading since I was 4 years old, if you want to see what an author sees, you have to understand what is being written. But that's it, I can sit down to read and write, while I have time to think. Conversationally, I'm a bit rubbish. This probably stems from not speaking much as a child, or being spoken to. I was incredibly shy and avoided conversation as much as possible and still do to a certain extent. But, when your job involves standing up in front of an audience, be it giving seminars on teaching adults with a disadvantaged background, or holding workshops in wet felting, one has to get over their fear of public speaking, quickly.


Words are incredibly powerful. Used skillfully, you can be transported back in time, or to a particular place, feel the emotion, tension, peace and serenity. To be able to do this in something as condensed as a poem or a song takes some skill and knowledge of the power of words (and the right punctuation). That is something I need to re-learn and as with most things, practice is the key.

I love using word play, or logology, using the two (or more) meanings of a word and symbolism. Some are obvious, some not. I like that there's a secret message going on behind the scenes and use it a lot in my art work too. It's not necessary to understand the poem, but if you know the symbolism, it strengthens it.


This is the most refined of my recent (within the last 3 years) poems. I think it's finished.


That Split Second.


It's that moment when you wake from a dream,

check the clock, it's 4:16.

That tipping point between darkness and light.

Just a few more hours, to get through the night.

Balanced, cat like, in one world and another,

in that fine line between master and lover,

you find yourself, desperately holding

on to the seams of space, universe unfolding.

In that moment before tears start to fall

and the dogs of Annwn howl and call.

Slowly, the pivot begins to tip,

panicking slightly as you start to slip,

the need to avoid the depths below

where the pain of memories ebb and flow.

It's there, I will see you my demon, my god

and it's there I will stand with my staff and my rod.

In that tiny moment when morning leaves night,

the split second between fleeing and fight.

You will see, that I show no fear

and I will allow you to disappear.

My heart flutters, eyes still burning

but I feel the calm, the numbness returning.

It gets tiresome battling this darkness of mine

but if I'm quick, I can catch it, that slither of time,

without un-clenching my fist, I bury it deep,

so I can close my eyes and go back to sleep.

(c) angiekjames

2018.



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