Making Connections: Buses, Weaving and Poetry

November 18, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

threads of inspiration

When is the last time you sat on a bus or a train?

I’m on a London bus just now. I find public transport a great place to brew and gather material for creative projects. Let me show you.

The bus is a 106 from Stoke Newington to Finsbury Park, swinging round corners, barely pausing at the stops, I think the driver’s late. “Hey, wait a minute I’m trying to get off with my buggy!” It’s busy, packed with school kids, shoppers, folk coming and going. I wonder who they are?

Busy, busy mums with kids, stretched to the limit, with pleas and refusals, close to loosing it but hanging in. Firmly gathering, cajoling and edging to the door. “Hold her hand please, no just wait, you can have that when we get home…. Come on, now it’s our stop!”  There are others too.

Suited, clean and pressed by caring wife, inhabiting leafy suburbs
dark stripped calculating interior, returning from the competitive shouting halls of international barter.

Jeans and check shirt, muddy DM’s laced, bronzed hairy arms, 
scanning for talent and car parts,
firm buttocks honed from ladders scaled and digging.

On the way home, via the pub.

School pal’s giggling, uniform awry, skirts and blouses just within the rules, with a personal twist, button, tie or hitch, confident together, free now for the day, teasing the boys, brave but trepidatious.
Home work still to do.

And there’s a poet and weaver too, searching for inspiration for a post to Women Writers, Women Books, hoping for clarity around links between weaving and the muse. Knowing the harder I try the less it works. Loving the threads of ideas, pausing to notice, watching the flow of colour and words as they fall and are captured, sorting and discarding; crafting each.

Space and time

Crafting each.  I remember visiting Salvador Dali’s museum in Spain on a hot summer day. In the courtyard was an old Chevy tilted on its edge, windows open,  every few minutes it would fill up with water and then empty.  Inside, arranged on the cool cloister walls, exquisite detailed drawings of hands and feet. Each crafted with care.  One because of the other, and the other because of the one.

Gentle time, working patiently, lies at the heart of both my poetry and weaving. On Friday last week I spent the morning putting a warp on my restored 1950’s loom. The warp is the long threads on which you weave the substance of your piece. The warp is the detailed framework, the canvas, it must be straight with equal height and tension. Careful measuring and concentration is needed, without breaks for the yarn or for you. I prepared, calculated, counted and threaded 80 lines in bunches of 10, and wound them on to the loom, ready to weave, ready to paint with colour, texture and feel.

Poetry and writing need time and attention too, and probably a journey on a bus.  Noticing, weaving with words, with threads of ideas, observations, punctuation, pauses, spaces and surprises. Yes, there are some common themes I pay attention to for both. Space and pace, for time to watch, to gather words, colours, feelings, shapes, thoughts and ideas; slow enough for detail, fast enough to dare and jump. I’m mindful of the need for care and craft; to sift and shape, to measure and thread, to decide and discard. Finally, the paradox of safety and of risk; to begin, to trust, to jump and not know, to start without knowing the final result. Then with luck and patience I may find that a poem writes me or a woven cloth emerges from my loom.

Sue Orton 
Learning coach, writer & facilitator, lover of action methods. Creator of weaving and poetry. Dreamer.

Follow me on Twitter @sueorton or on my blog.

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Category: British Women Writers, Contemporary Women Writers, Women Writing Poetry

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  1. Jo Carroll says:

    I love buses – especially the young people at the back who long to shock the fogies at the front. Not long ago two lads – about 14 I suppose – were snogging on the back seat! I never worked out whether this was just to upset the perm-brigade or genuine affection/exploration. But I wanted to cheer. (Not London bus, this, but deepest Wiltshire.)

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