Tuesday, 31 January 2012

This is the star of me

A Winter Garden is a text/art project with people in Blackpool dealing with depression and isolation. The project is lead by writer Philip Davenport (from arthur+martha) and book artist Emily Speed. Philip writes:

The extraordinary often comes unbidden. We were sitting in the cafe after the latest session in Blackpool Library when this extraordinary moment arrived.

A particpant started talking about the problem with writing – the great dilemma of when to plunge in, when to hold back. “Its hard to write like this because its opening something up. And I don't know whether to go down there. Maybe it'll hurt. Maybe it'll make me feel better. I don't s'pose anyone else feels like this...?”

And of course other people did feel exactly like that. There were nods around the table.

Another particpant began to talk: “When I was a kid, my parents didn't talk about feelings. It wasn't spoken. The one time I saw them even hold hands was when there was a family death. It's not what I'm used to doing.”

Today was a breakthrough. We've been tweaking the way we organise the workshop, the group has been getting used to one another and me too; the combination clicked this week and we came together not only as a collection of writers, but as a group of people, aiding and abetting each other, coming out of shells. It is these little acts of bravery and compassion that bridge the seemingly infinite gaps between people.

the stars in the late afternoon
in winter’s
particles of silver
velvet fire-cat sat on my lap
at home with my family
I would be a
sun glowing in the black
warmth lying on the bed

(Participant’s poem)

The stars are infinitely far, but they are present in all human thinking. The writing this week centred around the idea of the stars as mirrors of our own inner-state.

The constellations are a powerful symbol to conjure with, which is why we're using them in the sessions – they evoke such deep feelings. Their burning light that's come millions of miles to visit our eyes has lost its warmth when it gets here. Stars are metaphors for coldness and isolation. But they are also magical – we make wishes on them. Today’s were most definitely of the wishing sort. I hope that some good comes of them, they were written with great courage and it was a privilege to see them emerge from the dark.

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