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Walled Garden: A Poem for National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day today (here in the UK).

The theme is ‘home’, prompting me to dig out a piece that I wrote when I was at Cambo House in June for the ‘Tell Your Story’ writing retreat.

I wrote it sitting in this garden…

It’s based on an exercise learned from Pat Schneider where you start with a paragraph of ‘ordinary’ text and then reorder the lines to generate something more poetic.  (It’s quite complicated to explain - but come on a class with me some time and all will be revealed!)

I’ve recorded the poem too, for those who enjoy the audio versions.  I hope you like the poem.


Walled garden warmth, the buzz of bees and
Cupboards of gooseberry bushes.
A garden the way his father showed him.
The dance of cabbage butterflies and I am home.
I am high above the railway line, high above
All the topping and tailing, the old greenhouse,
With blackberries on the fence above the railway.
No single pane of glass but grapes that grew,
Whitecurrants, redcurrants, loganberries, it was
like peas in rows, sweetly climbing
Producing thick and heavy that summer
Letting us make the berry rich kingdom of Fife in south London
Pods with the sweetest fruit that I’d collect,
Wine, fermenting for weeks,
A suburban garden, my father working, and
In the kitchen, my mother, shelling peas.

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Why not gift yourself a moment to read - or, even better, write - a poem today?  It might make you feel more at home ;-)

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  1. Paul says:

    Very nice Joanna,
    This poem really captures its time and place and does the hardest of things as well: sending me there for a moment or two as I read.
    Happy National Poetry Day! :)
    All the best,

  2. Tweets that mention Walled Garden: A Poem for National Poetry Day | Confident Writing -- says:

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  3. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Oh Joanna, this is beautiful. It truly does paint a scene and mood. I am always amazed at how powerful the storytelling is in poetry, with just a few lines a story unfolds. Thanks for sharing it here, it really made me feel peaceful and embraced somehow.

  4. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Paul: thank you… feedback much appreciated, especially on a poem!

    @Karen Swim: Karen, thank you. Your words made me think about the deeper meaning I hadn’t really (consciously) seen before… the archetype of the garden, and how we are embraced within its walls. Much love to you Karen, I am so glad these words brought you a moment of peace x

  5. Davina Haisell says:

    Joanna, this was SO lovely.
    I really like when you offer audios of your poetry. This gave me the chills as I listened to you read it. I’m having trouble finding the words to describe how this poem made me feel. It is soft and yet powerful and deep. There is melancholy and appreciation. The pacing was superb; especially where you left “Back” on a line by itself. And I almost forgot; I love the garden where you wrote this.

  6. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Davina Haisell: thanks so much for that feedback Davina, especially making it so detailed. I really appreciate it.

  7. Wendee says:

    Joanna - I’ve read this several times since you posted it, savoring the words each time I return, the heady freshness of it all. Just love it. Thank you for sharing this one!

  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Wendee: Thank you so much Wendee for telling me that. It’s a stretch sharing poetry, but it makes me very happy to know that it’s being savored.

  9. Lindsay says:

    How lusciously the berry taste hangs in my mouth now, in early November. What a treat. Thanks Joanna.

    I’m intrigued by this way of deconstructing a text to make poetry (if I understood it rightly) .. I’d love to know if you’re doing a specific class with that.

  10. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Lindsay: so glad you liked the poem Lindsay. I’m still figuring out ways to teach this and other entries into poem-writing… will keep you posted. It’s a deliciously creative and rewarding exercise, and I’m itching to pass it on!