I opened a book
From the moment I opened the book The Way of the Story Teller and read about 8th Century Bards, I knew I’d found my vocation. The path was clear. The payscale was undefined, but the adventure had begun.
It was one of those ‘You’re a wizard, Harry’ moments. It suddenly all makes sense. As long as there’s this other enchanted world to believe in. And now you see where you belong and why it all happened as it did.
Even though you’ve no idea what the way forward might be, since bards at the centre of society were mainly a thing in 8th Century Ireland, you just know that 21st century Manchester, London and Transylvania… also need bards and you’re going to be one of them.
A Bard School??
But first you need a bard school. Except you’re 1,200 years too late.
It used to take 12 years to take a young one with ‘the gift’ of story telling to learn all the epic poems, and the laws of that kingdom and to teach them to make music that brought joy, sorrow and sleep.
After many a night in a darkened hut, lying under a blanket learning to recite sagas off by heart, you’d think they might become a little pasty and wan. But no, these bards were fierce and feisty, ready to satirise anyone, to entertain young and old alike and most of all to speak truth to the king without fear.
They emerged from their training with the virtues of all classes and the vices of none and with permission to wear 6 different colours in a society where only the king wore 7 and knights wore only 5.
Bards were worth the Kings ransom. Far more than a bag of gold.
I was in.
The path will find you
My past to that point had been a training in Drama at Central School of speech and drama, (London, England) a degree in French and Drama, a scholarship to Berkely California to study Philosophy and Drama and a road trip across America in a Greyhound bus with some camping in the Arizona desert.
When I opened that book by Ruth Sawyer, I was a teacher of Drama, Poetry and Religion in Manchester where with our wonderfully diverse pupils we won three national prizes putting on a Medieval Mystery play about the creation of the world and the fall of the angels, dressed in gorgeous saris made by the children’s parents, who had skilfully negotiated the price of the fabrics in Urdu down the market.
But the path that led me away from teaching was the provident but bizarre disruption of being stalked by a man I met in the back of a gothic church.
I’d never have left Manchester if I hadn’t had to, but once in London, the jobs I found had me busily writing poetry in the coffee breaks to stave off the boredom, performing them for the staff to bring them a bit of a laugh. After all they were all about them! And being invited onto a regular radio show… and performing at parties… and then a cabaret..
The path will always find you, if you set out to share the gift.
And so the poems became the way forwards and so they will be for you.
Unleashing and permission givers
The following of the bardic path has led me to three years at the BBC as an assistant producer, becoming the unofficial Performance Poet in Residence at BBC Worldwide but then departing to explore the world of Global Citizenship at the Commonwealth Institute and discovering the incredible Art and Social Action conference in Pakistan, Karachi led by Fausia Said.
But it was the hermits who truly gave me permission to be a bard.
We all need those permission givers on our way. I hope I can be one for you.
The ones who say, “Yes."
Who assure you that of course your handful of poems will become the seeds you need, to grow a whole beanstalk up to new heights.
And sure there’ll be ogres on the way, but isn’t that half the fun?
Sarah de Nordwall's poetry performances are guaranteed to give your emotions a roller-coaster ride. She has an amazing ability to speak about the profound issues of life in a funny and innovative way which will leave you smiling, questioning, thinking and hoping and dare I say .. awakening any poetic hint of creativity you may have hidden in you!!
Business owner, Scotland
As soothing as a head massage and as fascinating as a trip to a new planet. I could have listened all night.
I sneaked into the best place I could have been tonight, not having the foggiest idea of what to expect from a Bard. Sarah has an incredible gift which transported me. I enjoyed every second and left feeling that life is just wonderful! Thanks Sarah!