Performance Poet, Sarah de Nordwall
What has poetry opened for me?
The beauty of writing poetry is that you don't have to know exactly what you are talking about, at least, at first.
But the opening line calls you.
It has an idea it wants to convey to you and you must obey by writing the poem.
That's how it feels sometimes. And so, the problem that you had, the question you were asking, becomes unfurled as the poem progresses, as the image blossoms into differing layers of perception and you too look back in wonder, as the answer presents itself with a smile.
When you are given a brief, whether to write a poem or a constellation of poems and stories for a BBC Manager, for a wedding, a jazz club, a political campaign or a group of work colleagues considering a particular dilemma, you will discover the answer through many sideways glances, hunches and clues, until the ground appears under your feet. The poem begins.
Its fulfilment comes, though, in performance and through the reception and responses of those for whom it is performed.
It even takes on a different form and significance, depending on the group who may be called upon to respond with their own ideas or creative writing; their own creative work that will have been kindled by the offering of the performance.
This is the immense joy and terror of my work. The never knowing and yet the trusting, that if you reach out from the inner place of your own experiencing and musings, then the ones who receive the Rhapsodic Theatre of your performance, will be enabled to hear it from the place within, that sacred space within each person, from which we often flee, but within which so many keys and revelations hide.
Sarah's first adventure on the piano
And that is what my life as a poet and bard is for;
my life as a performer of Rhapsodic Theatre, which is the rendering of poems, stories and songs into a bardic live form.
It is for the purpose of disclosure.
For the revealing of hidden treasure, of unexpected answers, of unlooked-for celebrations.
For the gorgeous humanising relish of realising the presence of beauty and possibility, where the forces of blandness had begun to peel the paint off the walls and sprinkle dust on the keyboard.
It is all delight.
How have other people's worlds been opened?
My background has been in the world of arts and media, education and social engagement.
Performing at the House of Lords for a meeting on freedom of Conscience and belief was a particular high point, because I had always wanted to bring the unique insights that the shared experience of poetry in performance brings, right into the heart of public life.
The angle that I chose to present on that occasion to the UN Rapporteur from Pakistan, touched upon the danger of bland and over prescribed language, which limits the richness of public discourse. George Orwell in his famous essay about politics and literature names the fact that before a regime abuses people, it must first abuse the language. The poem managed to bring humour and shared reflection to a very serious space in which parallel viewpoints had been presented in rational presentations without room for a shared imagination.
University of London, Westfield College and Central School of Speech and Drama Summer Scholarship to University of California, Berkley, to study Theatre and Philosophy (Existentialism in Film, Novel and Drama and Epistemology from Plato to Wittgenstein)
3 years teaching poetry, drama and religion at Primary Level, Rosecroft school, Manchester Where I directed a play with the 10 yr olds that won 3 awards at a National Drama Competition
2 years at the BBC at beeb.com as a researcher and then BBC Worldwide as researcher and assistant producer on Cult TV Online, also writing poems for meetings and the Annual Review at the Strand Theatre where I was declared the Unofficial Performance Poet in Residence
2 years at the Schools and Youth Departments of The Commonwealth Institute and Action Aid where I got the opportunity to visit the Art and Social Transformation conference in Pakistan, and visited projects in India and Bangladesh where children were being inspired to set up their own collaborative businesses in slum areas. I also trained up Yr 10s to research and speak out about issues that impassioned them - which they delivered to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Institute
What is disclosed by beauty? - in relationships, in the workplace, in politics, in the community? What threshold are you looking to cross and how could some rhapsodic theatre help engage you and your colleagues, family, friends or community group in some transformation from the heart?