Poem 11 Shooting stars, the great abyss and Sheffield Mandolins with David Lochner

It’s fascinating to see what insights people bring to your own poems. 

When I heard David’s voice in the Arts Tent at Youth 2000 Festival,  saying hello, I knew I was in for a treat. 

The last time we met, had been a few years ago,  on a beach in Nice, looking at the sea with his sister Jenny.  But now we’re chatting about the sky.  

The prayer tent at the Festival looks beautiful under the glorious harvest moon.  And after a night of prayer, there’s a host of people up for some joyful Irish dancing, lead by Emmett Glynn and a violinist.  

Over the sound of the impromptu ceilidh, we’re talking about poetry and David reminds me that he used to come to the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden to see my Friday Night Poetry shows (with Sarah Larkin) when he was 15!!!  15???  Yes, he came with a school friend all the way from Ipswich.  (Now I’m feeling like Goodbye Mr Chips)

So, yes, he’s more than happy to tell us what he thinks of the next poem in the book, which you can hear here.  (The Garden at La Villette – on the night we sat back in deck chairs, as the night fell and all the shooting stars came out to play)

I love his first reaction – 

‘When you say

“The garden like a cradle hangs

Suspended in deep space”, 

I really relate to that, because, if you look up at the sky for any length of time, when you look down again, the ground is the sky.  It’s all changed!

The ground feels different, because you’ve put yourself up there in the cosmos. So looking up, you do “risk a fall into the great abyss”.  

I’d never thought about the ground becoming the sky.  It’s sounds a bit terrifying. 

Well yes, but it’s exhilarating – the impression of the infinite majority of reality being ‘out there’ and us being this infinite minority. 

But doesn’t that make you feel insignificant, like the character at the beginning of ‘Rebel without a Cause’ with  … what’s his name, James Dean, who is found trembling under his cinema seat in the planetarium? No doubt with a dose of existential anguish to add to his teen angst.

No, quite the opposite! Where’s that bit about the galaxies merging… with Andromeda approaching our galaxy at a hundred miles a second – 

“Our Galaxy approaches hers at this tempestuous pace
Till noble Pegasus, the winged horse, dives in victory

Towards the sea-beast in a tide of stars.

One day our galaxies will wholly merge
And quieten every sword.

The drama of the heavens 

Tells the glory of the Lord.”

That’s the thing I feel – God’s in charge of all that and the truly amazing thing is the fact that even being so small, we can comprehend it, at least in part. It tells us something about who we are, that we can do that. 

Yes, it’s true. I wonder what the evolutionary imperative of that would be? If you read the ‘New Scientist’, they assume that everything has to have an evolutionary imperative, as though comprehending the majesty of the unimaginable vastness merely  helped you to survive.  But surely there’s more to it than that.  At any rate I enjoyed combining all the scientific facts in the poem with the mystery and the myths.

And by the end we really have managed to

‘Feel the earth


 Up end us

 Into Awe’

That’s great.  So do the children in your Year 5 and 6 classes get to hear some poetry?

Well I always try to give them something meaty – a bit of TS Eliot – the Journey of the Magi.  I think they like things that are a bit more challenging.  

So what are you excited about when you go back to Sheffield? 

There’s a new thing starting for young people, called Mission Hub.  There’ll be a cinema and cafe, and chapel with 24 hour adoration.. it’s going to be right next to the university and there’ll be loads of opportunity for creativity.

I know you go on Thursday nights for Guitar and Mandolin sessions already.  But that’s at the Cobden View.  

Oh yes, and did you know that we are always invited, each and every week, by a text that is an original poem by Steve, the organiser.  That is poetry in everyday life as encouragement and community building! Marvellous. 

And very hobbity. 

And that reminds me,  that I’ve got a performance in October that I must start inviting people to.  It’s the St Michael’s Arts Festival and my show is actually on National Poetry Day – October 4th – Poetry and Prosecco –  Please come, it was wonderful fun  last year and they’ve asked me back! There are loads of events over the 10 days and a festival ticket for every event costs only £50.  You can get individual tickets too though for each event. There’s comedy, an art exhibition, a Macbeth workshop, Lemon Wedge Film club for kids, opera, talks, food..  go explore!   www.stmaf.org

It would be great to see you there, but I think you’ll be among the guitars and mandolins in Sheff!  Cos it’s a Thursday. 

Never mind, we’ll raise a glass of Prosecco to the North and the Cobden View!  

Thanks so much David.  Have a fantastic term!

Sarah’s book and accompanying audio book are now available on Amazon.

One Comment

  1. What a gorgeous poem, Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I forgot to look for the shooting stars on the roof terrace this summer so it's nice to have some in poetic form. Xx

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