Denton West End Community Library
This week I wrote more detailed instructions on my hand and managed to find the library. I was met by an impressive poetry section and a very nice volunteer called Jean (“what are you doing? I’m intruiged”), who told me that this community organisation had been run primarily by four dedicated volunteers since Tameside Library closed about five years ago.
The library puts on a vast range of activities for the community including: a community choir, yoga, street dance, a quiz night, pilates, knitting group, kickboxing, weight watchers AND a film club. So it’s fair to say they’re doing their bit.
It seemed to be a quiet area with more cars than people, which meant the few people that passed were even more confused to see me waiting for them. One lady who was returning three novels back to the library answered my regular question of “do you like poetry?” enthusiastically with “I do, actually!” Another answered, equally enthusiastically, “I’ve not read much poetry!” and walked off reading the poem as she went. And then all at once a woman riding a horse came around the bend, and as I distractedly gave a poem to two young women chatting to each other, one shouted back at me: “do you just do this for something to do?” and when I answered yes she nodded knowingly, “Ahh, nice!”
Remember that nice lady in the spotty dress I met a few weeks ago outside Stretford Library who accused me of “poetry spamming”? It turns out Joanna Hope Bricher is a poet and printmaker who loves goats! Last week I went and met her in The Robin Hood pub and we sat on a tiny bench and talked about letter-pressing and her favourite poems to read before she goes to sleep.
We also talked about the poem ‘Julian of Norwich’ by Rebecca Tamás, from her pamphlet Savage (Clinic, 2017). I was nervous about choosing the poem, because I didn’t have any idea what was going on in it. Luckily Joanna loves anything cryptic, knew who Julian was (an anchoress who published the first book known to be written by a woman in 1395), and could fully identify with the idea of ‘food congealing on the hob’!
Julian of Norwich
Come home if you can bear it, the same divine, familiar beds,
the same wall hangings with your name written in purple,
the same glasses smashing, the same food congealing on the hob.
She fastens milky attachments to your sleep,
cups your head in her hands and sings softly,
cigarette ash sliding down her warm legs onto the bare boards.
God is not the far off, steely mountain gazer, the slick night bus
you missed, crying and retching.
God is already in your arms and breathing up against your face,
so close it hurts. You know the fresh and bloody pith of her,
the damp redness between her legs, the wet tense stomach,
the eyes black and rolling.
Inside her mouth she licks your own muddy spit,
calls birds into the house, breaks hidden skulls,
reads your diary, leaving subtle and deliberate yellow smudges in the margins.
She made you, is remade,
love that’s virulent, ugly, nutshell tight,
love that throws out a tender and extravagant brightness,
calling you with torn crying into vision.