Poetry + Illustration = The Coolest Thing [#indyref].

I remember in incredible detail the first time a poem of mine was published, and I think I remember it so well because it was a magazine of poetry and illustration – Popshot – where prior to publishing the poem was sent off to a willing illustrator who interpreted the words in their own way and made a beautiful visual something from it. To be read was enough, but for someone to really take in my words and reinterpret them visually was something else.

And it’s happened again, kind of. These last few months I’ve been berating friends with facts and figures about the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum. I’ve had some pretty strong views on it, and unfortunately my friends have had to put up with me bringing up the issue with them over every drink, over Skype, over messaging… a few friends have really engaged with me about it though, and then a good friend of mine asked me to shunt over a poem I’d been writing regarding the referendum, and this was born:

Scotland

Here’s some information on the image from the artist.

“Scotland”, watercolour.

I remember seeing this girl in the crowd, while I was eating baked potatoes with my best friend in front of a shop in Edinburgh, and thinking “Wow, she looks like the personification of Scotland itself”. I had such a lovely time there, so a homage to this beautiful land was a must.
Also, the Scottish Independence referendum will take place on 18 September.

The verses at the bottom of the painting are by Hayden Westfield-Bell (so check out his blog and stalk him, he’s a great poet haydenwritesthings.wordpress.com).

Yeah, I should have learnt to paint instead of fucking around with words…

Anyway, you can find more of Nata’s work on Facebook, tumblr, and deviantart, and because I’m a real nice guy you (pfft), you can find the full poem below. Something interesting is happening with this poem and another one I’ve penned (from a very different angle) in the coming weeks. I’ll let you know closer to the time. In the meantime, have a read. Muse. Enjoy. Oh, and if you steal this poem of the art above then I’ll find you, and I’ll eat you. I’m that kind of person.

Expression

We’re told that politics is the sum
of a million minds coalescing;
a collective fall of water weaving
air and rock together into one,
to form a force that carves
hard but sure into the ground below
creating changes that allow
good health, steady growth,
happiness and a wholeness
that drives the river onwards, but

all I see is artifice, all I see is apathy
and ignorance and arrogance
and all I see is blame and bluff,
the bulging midriff of a wallet
stuffing a river shut; letting only
a tampered dribble continue
down a wounded path
that once flourished with an intensity
that eased ideas and action
from the roots of trees.

Now there is little life,
just the suggestion of something living
that knows only that it is alive,
yet miles before the fall
there is a reservoir that swims
with engorged suits; a vast body
of water encircled by damp wallets,
high rents, and urban promise
fuelled by all our sources
manipulated into one.

It’s become a centre of unrest
where every day becomes a quest for power,
whether walking down the street
or running for the shower in a dank
four bedroom flat occupied by eight.
It’s a plutocracy; a playground
for the aristocracy to fiddle
with democracy using loopholes
in bureaucracy to murder
any chance of an isocracy.

Yet, like nature, passion always finds
a way of pushing through,
corroding the canals
until it meets the earth
and brings the soiled land
to life again, and as the leak
becomes a flood the field
greens and blossoms into pastures new,
and our wounded path
becomes a stream again.

This land folds in and on itself
to embrace its people,
and they who huddle here
huddle together – despite
the terrible weather –
they know every step
along the the crest
of every sharp shoulder,
and still know the friendly warmth
of a conversation with a stranger.

They’re far from the empty screams
of the Tube tunnel,
far from the numbing stares
that square off across
the non-space of a London bus.
They’re a people of stories,
smiles, handshakes and hugs.It’s passion, but is it politics?
I don’t know, but it’s enough,
more than enough.

____

© Hayden Westfield-Bell, 28 Aug, 2014.

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