Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Poetry in Rome

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In November 2012 I was invited to design and deliver six poetry workshops at both the Keates Shelley House in Rome and the British Council in Rome. Different workshops were facilitated for children, teenagers and adults with different levels of English language on a variety of themes which included ghost stories, haloween parties (!), personifying the city of Rome, childhood memories and lost property. In June 2012 I also delivered a one hour performance of my poetry at the Keats Shelley Memorial Museum and was commissioned to write three poems and a short article for the Keats Shelley Review. 

When Keats was leaving Rome

Cruel to surround you with ruins that fed you

knowing that you could not eat;

only watch through the curtain crease

as the Spanish Steps steepened each evening

when all the eyes came out to dance,

fall into quartets, and disappear still twisted

in the oldest vines.

You would watch till their lightness couldn’t lift

your sinking bed, moored here at the city port,
where wheels are tides washing in the hungry,
whilst venders shout out their urgent roses

like sirens whirling beams to wanderers

wading through this artery into Rome,

where ghosts still brawl in Coliseum arches

for foreign shoals fanning awe through heat,

before pinning the city to their lapels.

All you would ever have were tales

and now in breathing, singing, sweating Rome

they were close enough to slip in through your window

bringing the dust of pillars

that had soaked in sun for centuries

to your cool blooded sleep,

here in the shade of white flowers

painted on your ceiling and raining

enough oblivion to blur you away.

So without leaving any of your small rooms

you had “travell’d in the realms of gold”

to take missing limbs from gods

so your words could move in their shadows

dressed in new accents, bearing bright robes,

and the shards that you gathered were more whole

than any fanfare for an emperors’ hoard

being steadily plucked out of the past

to glut parlours and flirt new walls

that were growing up to frame their fathers.

This city of ruins posed like the promise of songs

you’d never fully hear, ruins so stubbornly eternal

whilst you were leaving Rome.