Archive for August, 2015

A very visually dramatic poem from John Foggin

The Great Fogginzo's Cobweb


Intro: There’s an earlier post – Landscape and legend 16/11/2014 – that tells you all and more than you need to know about Bheinn na Caillich, the red granite Cuillin behind Broadford on Skye.)

I’ve been asked if I’d post a copy of the poem that got chosen for the McLellan Prize. So I will. Now.

A bunch of thank-you’s are in order.

First off, thank you Kim Moore and Carola Luther for running a residential writing course in Grange-over-Sands in March this year. Thank you, Carola, for the concentrated writing task that produced the first draft of the poem. The only note of an instruction I have in my notebook is ‘Imagined landscapes…what’s the place that you think you remembered?’ Then there’s about 20 lines of stuff about volcanoes, and the Cuillin, and melting stone. All very febrile. And then

‘Or I might just think of Bheinn na Caillich…

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Another great blog from John Foggin

The Great Fogginzo's Cobweb

priory 5

Here’s a first…I’m writing this from the island of Arran; there’s a banner of cloud streaming from Goatfell. On this side of the island, the rocks that run into the sea are water-fluted sandstones; oxblood and ochre and tan. Unbelievably old. The granites of the high fell are youngsters. Half the places on the island were named by the Vikings. Everything’s layered.

Robert Macfarlane’s lovely book, Landmarks, begins with this sentence.

This is a book about the power of language -strong style, single words – to shape our sense of place.

I think I want to turn that on its head today. Writing about Jane Clarke a couple of weeks ago, I found myself speculating on ways in which  language (and therefore,  our writing) is shaped and informed by the landscapes where we feel we belong. How we come to feel secure in one landscape or another is a…

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I had a really good run today. Not fast nor a long distance but good just for the sake of running and getting out into the countryside away from civilisation and this world we live in that seemingly never stops and just goes on and on constantly. And this got me thinking about why I run. The inspiration for this line of thought came from a blog I read from Helen Mort who also wrote about why she runs.

There are many, many reasons why different people run and all of them are valid. Some people run to lose weight and get fit, others to race and be seen as a winner and for some it will be the chance to show they are the fastest in a race, over a distance or if they are on Strava over a particular segment.

But for me and I hope for many others it is the sure pleasure running gives you in getting away from the seemingly endless and constant barrage of images, noises, words and much more that bombard so many people every hour of every day. Running for me provides a means of escapism from a world in which the avenues of escape seem to be reducing all the time.

For myself too living with the condition Asperger’s Syndrome a form of autism, running gives me a chance to clear my mind of all the thoughts and ideas that conspire to overwhelm my mind all the time in addition to everything else the world throws at me. Running enables me to start afresh with a clear mind free from clutter.

Today was a very good example of this. I am lucky to live where I do on the doorstep so to speak of the countryside. The opportunities for me to go on a run and get away from it all are endless. The only limit is my imagination for thinking up routes and my body which is getting on a bit now!

So today I set off with a route in mind and for once followed it. along the main road then left down a long road, one half houses the other half fields. At the bottom of this road I turned right down a short road and then right again past a farmhouse and onto some nice single track trail heading down into the woods.

And it’s going down into the woods that my mind begins to clear, thoughts disappear as I concentrate on where I’m going looking out for loose stones, tree stumps and wet mud picking the best path down the trail, running as natural as can be, running for pleasure and no other reason.

For me it’s a very uplifting feeling running along paths made by nature under a canopy of green leaves and brown branches through which a strong sun tries to shine rays of light. This is where I feel at one with the world and with myself. No computers, no television, no radio and certainly no mobile phone. Nothing to distract me from the pleasure of running.

My mind is clear and free not overwhelmed by thoughts of what I should and should not be doing, who I should talk to and who I should not, who I should have in life and who I should not and so much more that occupies my mind in this every increasingly complex world I sometimes struggle with.

The Japanese have a phrase for this Shinrin-yoku which translates as forest bathing. This is the practice of wandering the trails of the forest, taking in the natural beauty and feeling at one with nature. This has a calming and relaxing effect on your whole wellbeing and this is why I run and why I ran today through the woods. To find peace with the world and myself until the next time I am overwhelmed and go for another calming and relaxing run through the woods.


Posted: August 10, 2015 in Andy Smith, poetry
Tags: , , , , , ,

There it goes

That feeling I’ve been here before

Life is repeating its self again and again

As I walk from this

Side of the road

To my grass verge

I contemplate my future

Something I know nothing of

I cannot predict, I cannot foresee

Each second is a step into another unknown

Only my past is written my future is…

Not in the deep blue of the sky

Where I constantly look for inspiration

Nor in the sea where my eyes follow

Fish that blend with the grains of sand

But it is here, now, immediate, yet

Gone forever faster than a ray of sunlight

Only to return before the

First rays of a new moon

Comforting me in unknown hope

Surrounding me constantly

Never leaving my side

Not even for a serene second

Sunday Poem – Louis Mulcahy.