Edited by Amber Hall
Hello and welcome to my final August Showcase! You can connect with me on Instagram: @amber.marie.123 and Twitter: @amber_marie_123.
It’s been great to read through your submissions and see how our theme ‘Worlds Apart’ has been interpreted. I think the variety of work we’ve received really speaks to the open-endedness of the theme, even though there have been some clear common threads running through the pieces we’ve published.
Physical distance, psychological dissonance and the surreal are some of the themes that have been explored. We’ve also seen how the natural world can provide inspiration, and how this might serve as a path for reconnection. This week, we’re returning to this idea and I’d like to start with two haikus that were submitted for Pen to Print’s spring social media competition.
Both writers have looked to nature for inspiration, using the elements to develop a particular mood. The first, written by Declan Cullen, has a slumberous tone; a haziness induced by the sun’s golden rays (something that I’m sure we’re all familiar with after the recent heat wave!). The second, by contrast, has a sense of impending action and touches on the sublime. It speaks to the fear and awe we can simultaneously feel in the presence of nature’s most impressive landscapes.
The early sunrise
Throws golden rays across me
I revel in warmth
© Declan Cullen, 2022
Model T arrives
at the peak of Ben Nevis
during May snowfalls
© Robin Dixon, 2022
I wrote this piece recently and, like the haikus above, it’s inspired by the natural world. It’s a snapshot of some of the main things I can recall about each season as a child. I grew up in a small rural village, and I remember the natural elements of my environment very vividly. In fact, my connection to nature during these formative years was extremely important. I still love to be surrounded by nature, even though I’ve lived in the capital for over a decade now.
I remember the carpet of bluebells in the woods behind our house; I welcomed its violet brilliance each year.
I remember lambing season, and the undercurrent of anxiety I felt about visiting my grandma’s house for dinner thereafter (lamb chops were her speciality).
I remember the grass stains on my gym kit, and the first tinges of shame I felt about my body in it.
I remember the thrill of freezing Sunny D, and sleepovers in pop-up tents in the garden. And I remember my mother’s ability to cope better once the sun came out.
I remember the frost making its way in and new coats with slightly-too-big-sleeves-that-you’ll-grow-into.
I remember picking conkers and threading them for fights, then hearing a story about a boy who lost an eye doing the same thing.
I remember the harvest festival; how we’d hand out tinned soup and multipacks of baked beans, even though living on the breadline ourselves.
I remember how cold the mornings suddenly felt, and how bare the trees suddenly were; I remember the dusting of ice on moss and heather as I walked across the moors.
I remember thinking, ‘I hope I have behaved well enough for presents,’ and the delight I felt at their arrival.
I also remember thinking, ‘I will be another year older soon,’ and panicking at the fact.
I remember how grey the sky always looked up there, during that time, and how we’d warm ourselves by pot-bellied stoves. I remember keeping my fingers crossed for snow days that never came. I remember welly season, and the doubling-up of socks.
I remember feeling like the world around me had grown vaster, somehow. I remember just wanting to stay inside; to curl up and sleep for a while, like my mum. I remember the dark starts and ends, and the countless brews that accompanied them.
And I remember the love, despite the chaos and the sadness and the struggle. I remember thinking, ‘We have been brave, because we didn’t do what we were told.’ And I still think that. She, with the grit and instinct of a luna wolf, kept us alive for many more seasons than this. My memories belong to her.
© Amber Hall, 2022
Our final piece comes from Akshitha Ramalingam. This poem reminds us that the connections we have with the people we love is profound; this is our lifeblood. Connection keeps us going, and it helps us to become our best selves. I think this is a lovely note on which to end our August showcase.
Everyday I rise, shine and glow,
For you undoubtedly believe to see me every tomorrow,
Darling it’s all in the belief, believe;
There you will rise, shine and glow beyond what you believed!
© Akshitha Ramalingam, 2022
If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to: pentoprint.org/get-involved/submit-to-write-on/
Hear extracts from Showcase in our podcast. Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Anchor FM.
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