Showing posts from October, 2014

a day under water

Every now and then, the exhaustion rises like a big wave and pushes me under water. Today I'm under water.

I have, perhaps, invited the wave that has knocked me over this time, with all the events I'm attending at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. But when you've moved to another city for the express purpose of immersing yourself in the storytelling culture of this place, is there any choice other than to, well, immerse yourself in it?

I have, perhaps strengthened the invitation to the wave of exhaustion with a day at the post-grad conference yesterday. But when you talk about the mutuality of humans, and have experienced a conference ethos of collegiality and mutual support and encouragement, which you have praised and affirmed as a life-giving approach to academic pursuits, can you withhold your participation because your own research is more important?

I have, indeed, created the environment in which such waves of exhaustion are possible, or even inevita…

talking stories at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival

In Edinburgh, we are in the middle of one of 12 annual festivals - the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. I am going to as many events as I can, and so far have had an evening of stories telling of the power of place, have heard about the storytelling quality of the famous Walter Scott, celebrated Orca whales, heard powerful poems of place and identity from two Pacific Islander women, and today, have talked about story and storytelling.

Let's take today's conversations and look at them a bit. Some of the conversations were about a collaboration between four European cities - Aachen, Germany; Florence, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; Edinburgh, Scotland - to explore story and place. Seeing Stories seeks to recover the narratives of urban and rural landscapes in Europe. This afternoon, we heard from each of the partners, of the ways in which a Europe they didn't know before has been uncovered for them, connections in communities have been rich and life-giving, ancient s…

of humanity, lost and found

I am preparing a collection of stories for a storytelling show I am calling '(in)humanity' - stories I am collecting like a magpie building a nest from treasure found along her way. Hannah Kent's Burial Rites inspired this poem, which may or may not become one of the treasures in the show, but resonates as I explore stories of devastating depth of our inhumanity, and the courageous heights to which our humanity can, and does occasionally, soar.

So I offer this poem, by way of grateful homage and response for a story well told; by way of telling the story of my storytelling show that is in creation.

Agnes’s story reading Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent.
1. The End
Compel her to repent! Fist pound, sweat drip, fiery cheek, a premonition of the witch’s stake she is already tied upon.
Compel her to confess! Finger point, bold stride, shout, parry, argue – prosecute before she’s taken her seat in the dock.
Don’t sit beside her, don’t let her speak, don’t meet her eye, I repeat – we…

Job and Bartimaeus: relationships of mutuality between God and humans

This morning I joined Greyfriars Kirk for worship for the second time. This community feels like it has the potential to be home, alongside The Gathering. It may be early to make such a claim, but the feeling is what the feeling is. But this post is not about finding home with any particular faith community. It is about biblical stories and, not surprisingly, mutuality.

The biblical stories we heard in gathered worship this morning were from the conclusion to Job's story of remaining faithful to God in the midst of terrible suffering, and the encounter Jesus has with Bartemaeus, who is blind.

As Richard was leading our reflecting on the stories, it began to occur to me that both stories are examples of human mutuality with God. It's a section of the essay on mutuality I am due to hand in to my supervisor tomorrow that has been feeling a little unfinished. So it was probably bubbling away in my subconscious, ready for the link to be made.

I am wondering if we see the mutuality …

an unravelling

I let go,
drop to the ground,
a light falling, here,
here I will land.
Until now I have been hovering,
wings beat from flying over land
and sea, land and sea, but
land I did not,
feathers panting,
the landing ready
waiting, but landing
had to wait –
for what? an
invitation? the right
one? moments come,
gone, passed over in the hovering
holding height,
watching, moments
wasted waiting
to be ready
to be here
so to come to earth as one,
not fall in pieces,
dreams and ideas scattering
lost with my direction
until now,
when I let go, float
gently to earth
into breath
to where I am.

I was going to write more about the context of this poem, written at nitekirk when, after a song, a poem, more poems and candlelight, an installation of thousands of hand made beads hanging in a dark room, weaving, weaving, I unravelled, or the knots within at least, and I found myself feeling at home, whether in place or Spirit or both I'm not sure yet … and there I have, after all, told the story. 

of speaking and listening, making the most of gathered encounters

I have been thinking about those moments we gather and hear someone speak. There are all sorts of moments - speeches at weddings and birthdays, academic papers, bibles, prayers and sermons in church, poetry readings, theatre, storytelling, a singer telling stories between songs in a live set.

I think gathering together to hear someone speak is one of the most profound modes of communication available to us.

In an age in which multiple modes of communication are available for our use, we can stay connected across geographical distances in particular like never before. This has meant that new friendships I've established at conferences, gatherings and retreats in the USA, Australia and Europe in recent years have continued after the initial few days or a week together, when they may not have if letter writing had been our only option for continuing communication (some of them would have, most of these folk are writers or storytellers after all, but bear with me for the sake of the a…

artistry and creativity encouraging wellbeing

This looks great - a month of artistry and creativity to encourage wellbeing. Get along if you can! Francine Sherman's are the hands in the film of my poem, 'Woe Is'; I also met Hakim Oerton during those workshops. Both are generous, creative souls, as I'm sure the other two artists in residence are. 
It is so encouraging to see the level of awareness and attention starting to be paid to our mental health, our overall wellbeing. The more we talk together, listen together, gather together, the healthier we will be, individuals and communities. 
Artists in Residence this October
To mark Mental Health Week, we're spending the month of October creating art in the new Adelaide City Library.mindshare artists are camping out in the new Adelaide City Library to celebrate Mental Health week.

Artists David Jobling, Francine Sherman, Hakim Oerton and Tom Stewart will each dedicate a week in October to running workshops in the Library.

David Jobling kicks off the month with a wee…

Woe Is

Woe is by Sarah Agnew from mindshare on Vimeo.

This is the poem film I got to make thanks to the mindshare poetry competition 'When Words Come to Life'.

Do go to the mindshare website or Vimeo page and check out the poem films from other competition winners.