Simply getting into ‘Land Sea Sky’ – Winchester

I am delighted to have had a poem accepted for the Land Sea Sky exhibition at The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre. This exhibition will feature landscape paintings from the Hampshire collections and Hampshire artists; and alongside this, 20 responses to the art, from writers based in or connected with Winchester.

To quote what the DC people have to say about it: “‘Land Sea Sky’ presents an eclectic selection of paintings from the collection with a particular focus on rural and coastal landscapes… the exhibition explores the wide range of creative approaches by artists fascinated by re-interpreting and re-presenting the landscape.” I’ve seen photos of a few of the paintings and I think it will be an appealing and varied show. I’m looking forward in particular to seeing works by Kathy Ramsey-Carr in the flesh – I was sent her ‘Harmony West’ as one of the two paintings I could respond to, and I found it a profoundly interesting image. I spent two or three weeks finding new ideas in it – thoughts that tied together Buddhism, the experience of being a parent, my reading about child development, and much more –  and from which I eventually drafted three poems. After hours of redrafting, I made my choice of poem to send, and pretty self-congratulatory about it I felt too.

Alongside ‘Harmony West’, I was sent ‘Incoming Tide’, by James Woolley. The jpeg of this painting was much less than clear, and I simply couldn’t get into the picture. But feeling that I ought to respond to both pieces, I dashed off a short poem in a couple of minutes; revised it in about another two minutes; and sent it. I though it might serve to set off the the lovingly-crafted ‘Harmony West’ poem and make that one’s fabulous qualities stand out all the better…

And, of course, it was ‘Incoming Tide’ that was chosen.

Which goes to show…. what exactly? I’m not totally sure, but here are my thoughts.

1. Don’t send off work that you’re still ‘in love’ with; it’s too soon. I hadn’t acquired the critical clarity that comes with a bit off cooling-off time – time for me to see other poems, and come back to that one dispassionate and honest.

2. Don’t overcomplicate. A simple reaction, directly expressed, made more impact on the selection panel than my intricate, over-intentioned poem.

3.  Having said that, I doubt that the ‘Incoming Tide’ poem would have happened at all, let alone so naturally,  if I hadn’t been exercising my poetic muscles daily and for some time on the other poems. Work breed success – though not always in the direction you thought you were pushing…

The exhibition runs from 20th May to 10th July and is FREE.