If you’ve been walking round my town recently, you may have seen poems like bunting hanging outside a particular house. You may have been one of those I’ve overheard saying, ‘What are these?’, or even, ‘Only in Tunbridge Wells!’

poems2

Well, I’ve been very proud to have been that ‘mad poetry lady’ in the ‘mad poetry house’ and thanks to all my other mad poetry friends for letting me put their poems up for everyone to enjoy. I lost count of the photographs taken, people stopping to enjoy them, and even an impromptu reading as one woman read them out via Facetime to friends in Spain. I was particularly touched by one couple who said they came by every day to read one poem a day.

poems5poembunting1

Funny how these things happen. I knew when I came out of hospital, I wanted to do something positive and as a writer, words are what I can use. And then one day, I wrote this poem (below) which was actually inspired by a yellow postcard I do have stuck rather inelegantly above my computer. It was only when I read the draft back that I realised I was telling myself what to do! It’s like the old saying has it, ‘I write to find out what I think’.

poems1

 

The poems are coming down tonight so I wanted to write this post, not just to find out what I think but to remember it too! (Thank you to fellow poet, Jess Whyte, some of whose photographs I have stolen to use above.)

Truth
Sarah Salway

Today I wonder whether to hang
bunting on the railings outside my home,
each triangle a dot or a dash
for passers-by to read in any direction.
I’ll watch them through my window,
see how their faces change as they realise
it’s a code that only some will break.

Above my computer is a yellow postcard
of a letterpress Morse alphabet.
Sometimes I tap words out with my fingers,
and as my hands remember the dance
of when they’d waltz on my old typewriter,
even my sleek silent keyboard shudders along
with every swing and ding of the carriage return.

We don’t catch strangers’ eyes these days
and it’s this I miss, those snatches
of conversations that won’t even take place
until later, in my mind, I fill in the gaps,
I’ve never told anyone this before but—

This time last year I was still on a high from giving a TEDx talk – possibly one of the scariest but best things I’ve done in my writing career. You can watch it – In Praise of Everyday Words –  here.

c39abe40-bf2d-49c2-bec4-76f537ad0d7d

In fact I was so inspired by the AMAZING team putting the whole event together, that I volunteered to help put on this year’s event. And I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve told me that they’d wished they’d known about the day, so this is a little bit of a public service announcement – the TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells event is on this Saturday, 1st February at the Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells.

YOU’VE NO EXCUSE NOW and you are not too late. The organisers have just released an extra tranche of tickets because of demand.  Do come and say hello if you’re there. I’ll be one of the people in TED t-shirts showing people where the loo is.

You can see the speaker line-up here (hence the subject heading). I’ve been in on some of the conversations and I can tell you that they are going to be amazing!

ted

But back to me.

My talk last year featured the Oxford Word of the Year, and as the one for 2018 was TOXIC, I hoped that 2019 might be more positive. Well, folks, it’s CLIMATE EMERGENCY. Hmmm. One of the things we did last year was invite the audience to think of their own words – but sadly hug, hope and authentic didn’t make the grade.

jgr+qqbqthsscjl2a2x78q

Anyway I’ve updated the poem I wrote for my talk to include Climate Emergency – the other words of the year are in bold or underlined with their year beside them.

I like the idea of doing this every year from now on, with a poem that gets longer and longer….

 

Icarus vapes over a dictionary (2014)
by Sarah Salway

The weather was post-truth that summer, (2016)
we lounged in our gardens,
took selfies in lycra. (2013)

Those sunny Sundays,
while we could still pretend
Climate Emergency was just for cranks, (2019)

and even us squeezed middles (2011)
could imagine ourselves gods –

with music breaking through walls
and us dancing,

a rest from the omnishambles (2012)
of so many toxic headlines, (2018)

and if sometimes we looked up
in the hope
that it might never end,

perhaps we were waiting
for the promised youthquake (2017)
who would build us a Big Society(2010)

a term many of us still liked the sound of
but few had ever understood –
if we were completely honest …

face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602 (2015)