Discussion about Birth, Spring and new beginnings with the aim of creating a print to go on a letter with a message for the future generations.
Talking to Betty about this subject was fascinating. I’ve spent the last two weeks playing around with what she said and still don’t feel like have managed to find a form that truly expresses what she was saying.
Although the beginnings were very light hearted, it instantly came onto persecution and her life during the war. As a Jewish child in Manchester she never had to be ashamed of her identity (something that she describes as being fortunate, not a given). Talking about taking the sunshine for granted in the spring, the same phase came up when talking about how she never came across hatred; ‘didn’t realise it, took it for granted’. As she spoke about going to school the same, there were statements that broke us away from her day to day routine and into the horrors of war – ‘until the sirens went off at night’. With these sudden cuts, it reminded us of what was going on beyond the surface - ‘open the curtains’.
Coming back to the topic of spring, her final line was ‘no big deal, the flowers came up’ giving this sense that a cycle continues. While she goes to school the same, things around her are changing suddenly. But the flowers carry on coming up.
While we never managed to come up with a message for an envelope, I feel that this form would be an interesting way to display this poem. Playing with placing an envelope over my computer screen, the plastic window allowed some words to be clearly seen; whilst the light of the screen meant that others were still visible, but harder to see.
Whilst talking to Betty I could feel that there was a visual form that would pull her experiences as a child and her thoughts on spring together. But at the time I was, and still am, unable to find that connection. I could feel myself pushing to find it, but I was very close to becoming so focused that could have lost Betty. There is a balance between responding creatively to the conversation without it taking us somewhere where the person doesn’t want to go, so it’s no longer collaboration between us both. A balance I need to work on.
There are still parts of this poem that I’m unsure of, but maybe that is the point.