Thumbs up: New release on YouTube  #poetry #TobiasMenzies #YouTube #video

Hello, Greetings and new News

I have just released a Poetry Video on YouTube, a lovely one minute, calming piece.

The poem is ‘Wanderings’ by me, Kate Barnwell and it is beautifully read by actor Tobias Menzies, whose birthday – quite incidentally – it happens to be today: 7th March.  

Tobias is currently performing at The Almeida Theatre, London in Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ and in the BBC John Le Carre drama, ‘The Night Manager’ (if you are in America, or outside the UK look out for this fantastic 6 part series of espionage, intrigue, plots and swirling locations).

Congratulations all round.

The poem was recorded at Essential Music Studios in Soho, London and features in my second collection book:

 ‘Ever Truly Yours – Reflections on Love’.

It is also available to hear and view in the POEMS section http://www.katebarnwell.com alongside other read works and one other video, ‘In Fields’.

I appreciate the kind comments that have come my way, particularly in a world so competitive, critical, sarcastic and cruel, should it choose to be so. Lovely people unite!

On a happy note follow the LINK


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Feeling Fruitful #India #travel #life #experience #world #market

Namaste: Good day to all,

Where in the world are you?

It’s always a feast and a friendly fight to experience shopping, Indian-style in the depths of a Market in Goa, picking up the bare necessities…

4 tomatoes

2 sticks of cucumber

2 coloured peppers

2 baby aubergines 

2 red onions

Slice of pumpkin

A line of finger bananas (the King Louis of ‘The Jungle Book’ variety)

Large papaya & 4 limes

A Bunch of coriander & a bunch of mint

1 queen pineapple

Best price…

200 rupees = £2.10

Living extremely well, for extremely little, extremely easily in the extremes of India.

The brilliant capacity of the capable human being to be able to gradually and calmly adapt to new circumstances is, the very essence of travel.  

This is the continent of sensory overload and sensational awakenings…burning tandoors; coconut carts; piles of sweet red onions; light, warm embracing breezes of holy incense and night jasmine; swirling white egrits like spirits of the jungle; silky, pink sunsets.

Seeing is believing, so believe.

Uplifting, Enchanting and Enlightening

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January Joy comes flowing in #January #poetry #England #NewYear #quotes

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Continued from yesterday…

Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘I Stood on a Tower’ (1865)

‘Seas at my feet were flowing,

Waves on the shingle pouring,

Old year roaring and blowing,

And New Year blowing and roaring.’

Tennyson wrote to his lifelong friend and poetry editor, Francis Turner Palgrave:

“What a season! The wind is roaring here like thunder and all my holly trees are rolling. Indeed, we have had whole weeks of wind.” 

Here we are in January 2016, 150 years later, a new wind whips up the waves, stirs a restless sea and rustles the senses.

‘The gulls to the sky, went soaring

The waves, heavily churned, came falling

Whipped to the tip, spilt on the beach

A hundred horizons for us to seek

Today, tomorrow as the days flow

Bathe thousands of places for us to go

At home, for rest, we safely stay, until

The leaning winds send us far away

And just like birds, who leave awhile

We’ll each return to our worlds and smile.’

KB, 2015/16
Take the first week of January calmly: ‘J‘ for Jolly, for Joy, for enJoyment.
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Time to rage against the ‘dying of the light’  #solstice #poetry #December #Hastings

In the UK, the 21st December is the shortest day of the year – the ‘winter solstice’.

In Hastings, East Sussex – beside the sea and looking out about 40 miles across the channel to the northern beaches of France – the sun rises at 07.58 and sets at 15.54.

Every day the sun will set exactly one minute later, ‘come rain or shine’ as Sinatra once sang. However sunrise works at a much slower pace increasing (not decreasing yet) by one minute every few days.  

In the first week there is no noticeable difference, but you are happy in the knowledge that ‘the days are getting longer.’ What a great relief!

Naturally the sunset and the sunrise do not determine the weather conditions – these are a whole other phenomenon.

So whatever you are doing – indoors or out – you’ll be gaining priceless light minutes in which to do it, which will add up along the way…!

‘As the blinding shadows fall,

As the rays diminish,

Under the evening’s cloak, they all

Roll away and vanish.’

From ‘Night And Day’ by R.L.Stevenson

‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light…’
Dylan Thomas

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A Square Tree #Christmas #London #Norway 

“This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.
A tree has been given annually since 1947.”

In Trafalgar Square, stands a 50-60 year old Norway Spruce. It is shipped across the North Sea, travels up to London and is adorned simply in the Nordic style with 500 white lights.

Around this tree congregate Carollers (singers of traditional Carols), happy school children, rockers, onlookers and fundraisers, proving that under the protection and beauty of green, spiky branches all sorts of people can come together safely.

Each year new poems are displayed on banners about the base.

‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree thy leaves are so unchanging…’

Here she will stand until 6th January 2016, if you are about come and take a look at Trafalgar Square’s perfect triangular Tree for 2015 – day or night! Follow the star

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Fancy a swim? #NewYear #Lifeboats #charity #sea

On New Year’s Day, precisely 3 weeks today, the 1st of the bright 2016 Year falling on a Friday, hearty Hastings folk like to take a New Year sea dip (this is when I show my London side and profusely refuse to remove even a sock).

All in good faith and despite the sign below, bathing takes place, money is raised, and a donation to the ‘Lifeboats’ (RNLI) charity is given.

Everyone makes a brief, but splendidly supportive effort, a swig of whisky is included, warm towels lie in wait and enthusiastic cheers abound.

I recall one member of the party covering himself in organic goose fat “to lock in the heat” … 

“Yes, but when did a goose ever swim in the sea? Incidentally does a goose cluck or quack? If the fat doesn’t work, try feathers instead!”

It will be interesting to see who turns up this year for the swim, I’ll wait for the warm Caribbean and a cold piña colada …perhaps…perhaps…perhaps…

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Scarves, coats, gloves, hats, Sea Fever and Lines for Winter  #December #poetry #poets #Winter #sea

Welcome to December.  

If you are living on Earth, in the northern hemisphere of a temperate climate disposition then this is most definitely a Winter month.

And the wind, rain, grey, dull temperatures, and lack of light confirms it…. 

Sunrise 07:38 Sunset 15:55

‘Tell yourself 

as it gets cold and grey falls from the air

that you will go on

walking, hearing

the same tune no matter where 

you find yourself – 

inside the dome of dark

or under the cracking white

of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow…’

From ‘Lines for Winter’ by Mark Strand (US Poet Laureate from 1990-91)

Poetry, in many forms, can bring a lot of light into your ‘darkened’ world.

A source of comfort and pleasure, on your own or openly with friends and family…start choosing a ‘party piece’ to share this Christmas.

In other news…

Leigh Hunt’s ‘Young Poets’ published 1st December 1816, named John Keats as one of three “young aspirants … who promise to revive Nature and put a new spirit of youth into everything.”

On 1st December 1902, the poet John Masefield was not hopeful the book, ‘Salt Water Ballads,’ which features his most popular poem ‘Sea Fever’, would sell.

He wrote: “they are a rough and tumble lot of ballads dealing with life at sea and drunken sailors…not much romance about them.”

The 500 copies were sold out by the end of the year (ie. a month later).  

Find your Winter Spirit and Keep Warm!

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Paths of Autumn  #poetry #Autumn #OnThisDay

American poet, Henry Van Dyke was born on this day, 10th November 1852 (died, 10th April 1933).
I recently discovered a seasonally-fitting, romantic poem by this man entitled:

‘Autumn in the garden’

‘When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark

Makes it mark

On the flowers and the misty morning grieves

Over fallen leaves…’


He imagines himself, on an autumn day, walking around his garden and along the paths once paced, traced, and wandered by previous generations; their thoughts and feelings, their struggles and strife as they dealt with own lives, treading these same paths.  

There is the sense of passing and of grief; of patience, sadness and sorrow, all delicately enhanced by the imagery of Autumn. The season in which the trees renounce their brown leaves and the naked flowers give their bodies to the earth, enriching the soil.
My favourite lines come at the end, after a gentle, contemplative stroll through the garden with him…


‘Let us walk in the garden, dearest heart
Not apart!

They who know the sorrows other lives have known

Never walk alone.’ 

Perfect.  

After Autumn, and Winter, we shall have the re-awakening, new life and hope of Spring.  

For now we have the vibrant-leaf colours, the moist clouds and damp earthiness of Nature’s cycle.

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Squirrelling away #park #squirrels #poetry #photography

Anyone whose ever read the experience of a professional wildlife photographer on their journey to picture the world’s rarest and most exciting creatures will know it is a wearisome task of dedication.

For example, “we climbed snowy peaks for days in temperatures of minus 50, there was a wind storm, ice glaciers, the frostbite was crippling; we suffered extreme exhaustion and intense headaches. We settled a camp, burned our old clothes for heat, sucked ice for water, ate powdered food supplies; then we lay in wait for 2 weeks, hoping to get a glimpse of an Arctic fox, who only appears for a few minutes at this time of year…etc.”

Well this photo of a squirrel (it’s not a masterpiece, but a well-formed pose; a classic profile perhaps) took 2 minutes in a London park. He accepted the bait of a ‘monkey nut’ kindly unwrapping the shell in front of me while I gathered my iPad to snap him. What held his ears and his position a little longer was the opportunity to recite a few lines of poetry to him, which he did indeed listen to, before scampering off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into the wildness of green grass and brown leaves, just outside Clarence House. Easy really.

It was agreed he was snacking and squirrelling away for winter on flat, verdant land in a temperature of 12 degrees. The grey squirrel is also a rather common specie of mammal in these parts, but it was a Royal Park so he certainly knows where to dine.

I headed home for lunch and tea; it was a pain-free encounter.

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.’

From Stopping By A Wood One Snowy Afternoon, By Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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Enchanted Castles #castles #poetry #travel

Fairytales may well be exaggerated and magical distortions of the sensible and practical truth but…

Knights of the realm, fair maidens, damsels in distress, valiant heroes, brave warriors, honourable citizens, villainous invaders, victorious intruders, are all part of the rich history of life, in all its many forms; figures from the past merge into the people of today.

Here, on a forested valley, sits a perfectly peaceful castle, steeped in mystery, and inquisitive questioning, and full of many possible and impossible imaginations…

Far, far away, then reachable; pungently powerful in the daylight, then disappearing at night; soft and mellow like a child’s sandcastle then fortified, strong and sharp like a gentleman’s brandy; sometimes imperious, foreboding and stern then vulnerable, touchable and tame; teetering on the edge, ready to crumble to dust, or basking in the might of centuries of vigorous invincibility.

How encouraging to be conquering the adventurous journey of the world’s road with a little fairy magic

“Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger,
You may see a stranger, across a crowded room.”

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Grappling for grapes#poetry #life #autumn #travel

“On this day, one like no other normal day, there appeared out of the sea-blue sky, as if hung by puppet-strings from a god’s great height, swathes of sweet, bulbous grapes; soured green, swollen and plentiful. If I were but 2 feet taller, I might reach up and pluck the wholesome pipped and bulging berries, and squeeze their juices into a rich, fruity, intoxicating wine to warm the senses, the soul and all its sensibilities.

At first, a jovial disposition of happiness, gaiety and bacchanalian revels and then a stupor of quiet drowsiness.  

Alas, it is only their flayed leaves and tight plump bunches, dotting and dappling the stone in shady softness, that soothe and comfort my rest; whilst the heady heat of sun catches the quench of thirst upon my tongue, to leave me only contemplating such ripe gifts of fancy.

So near yet so far, for a mortal such as I!”



Unreachable Earthly Things for which we require wings,

Grappling for grapes, while the gods gaze and sing.

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As pretty as a picture #art #poetry #landscape

A perfect landscape painting should be one third landscape, two thirds sky. The palette should be made up of lots of rich greens, flavoursome yellows, bountiful blues and whisked up whites. We never really see one green or one blue we see lots of variations…maybe even a dash of orange or a splash of red blended in. So what you see immediately is actually more complex; infinitely more dense, layered and interesting.
Then what about a story? Where do the fields lead, what wildlife lies inside the woodlands, how far can the sky reach? This is where a romanticised imagination replaces reality and common sense; every picture is unique and the tale is of your own making…
Herewith enters the wandering spirit, their wondering mind and their poetry of magic and mystery

‘Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun.’

From ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by W.B Yeats

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Day and Night #Equinox #poetry #time

The 23rd September 2015 is the date of the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.
In Hastings, East Sussex the sunrise is 06.45 and the sunset 18.55.
Drive 59 miles north to central London and the sunrise is 06.48, the sunset 18.58.
At night the moon is half full, by day we are struggling for sunshine; there is a grey light by which to live, however today is purposefully bright and sunny!

By small degrees every day is altered, although we can never tell these slight variations. In a week from now the days will be shorter and the nights longer and on occasion this will be noticeably more defined.
Whether you are enjoying a totally absorbing life or finding each day harder and more complicated, remember to take things as they come, all things pass…

All things pass
A sunrise does not last all morning
All things pass
A cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass

What always changes?

Earth… Sky… Thunder…
Mountain… Water…
Wind… Fire … Lake

Theses change
And if they do not last

Do man’s visions last?
Do man’s illusions?

Take things as they come

All things pass

All Things Pass
Lao-Tzu (6th century BC, translated by Timothy Leary 1920-1996)

This may be a poem, a prayer, a statement, a short speech, or even a personal prescription.
Whatever it may be, it is essential communication: the means by which all things pass.

Turning into Autumn #autumn #poetry #Keats #quotes

Autumn cannot be officially heralded in as a new season until we have quoted poet, John Keats’ magical dedication to our temperate climate’s tertiary quarter of the year.
In September 1819 he took himself on a 16 mile walk across a Devon landscape, describing the scene in a letter:
“How beautiful the season is now – how fine the air… I never loved stubble fields so much as now – better than the chilly green of Spring. Somehow a stubble field looks warm – in the same way that some pictures look warm…”

With a pool pot of thoughts stirring and the atmospheric turn, from a harsh, relenting summer into a delicate, delighting autumn, Keats composed the poem ‘To Autumn.’

Let’s take a large, leafy leap into Autumn with him –

‘Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…’

‘To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…’

‘While barred clouds bloom the soft dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue…’

This detailed, sumptuous poem is tasty to read, melting keenly from the mouth as you pass over each wordy sentence.
Poets love words, why use just one word when you can enjoy a plethora (over abundance) of words?!

Autumn is here now…tumbling, crispy leaves; soft sun-bleached apples with tart, blushing skins; damp, dewy cobwebs and burnt, breathy bursts of sweet smokey air.

Waking with words and Walking the world #words #poetry #coast #quotes

‘Sometimes, leaving the road, I would walk into the sea and pull it voluptuously over my head, and stand momentarily drowned in the cool blind silence, in a salt-stung neutral nowhere.’

This beautiful quote was written by Laurie Lee in his book, ‘As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning.’
Laurie Lee (26th June 1914-13th May 1997) was both a poet and a writer and in this case the two art forms have merged into one and created an incredibly atmospheric sentence. This is just one line, but it is how he presents his world to us...poetically.

How many ways can you be a poet in life?

1. A poet is someone who writes poetry and is defined as being a person with great imagination and creativity.
From 13th century Latin ‘poeta‘, from Greek ‘poietes‘ meaning maker and poet, from ‘poein’ to make.
2. Poetic, poetical, poetise…characteristic or befitting of poetry; to be elevated or sublime; to put into poetry.
3. Poetry…the art or craft of writing verse with qualities of spirit and feeling, rhythm and beauty.
4. Poetics…the study of the principles and forms of poetry.
5. Poetic licence...a justifiable departure from the conventional rules of form, fact, and logic…just as you find in gloriously creative poetry.
The world not as it is first seen, plainly and simply, but observed, described and presented in countless extraordinary and beautiful ways…which brings us back to Laurie Lee.
To criticise a poet is to deny their feelings, their interpretations and their imagination.
It is poetry that allows all these elements freedom…so set yourself free, walk differently and enjoy the wave of the world and the wonder of words. Wow!

I happened upon an apple and it led to many things… #poem #autumn #apples #NewYork #remembrance

‘The russet, crab and cottage red
Burn to the sun’s hot brass
Then drop like sweat from every branch
And bubble in the grass…’

second verse of Apples by Laurie Lee

‘How sweet the flesh and blemished skin
Crisp crunch the ripened bite
A thirsty juice of crimson dew
Bulging beauties of delight…’

one verse of Apples by Kate Barnwell
(Written on an Apple Ipad)

Create your own luscious verse to celebrate the picking of ‘new season’ apples.

With respect and remembrance for those who passed away and for those who were badly scarred by attacks on September the 11th 2001 in New York (The Big Apple).

Whilst on the subject of firstly apples and then the tragedy of 9/11 further extraordinary connections and coincidences can be made.
That day the towers fell poet Robin Robertson was in France and had just completed his second book, the concluding poem of which was ‘Fall‘ (written after the German poet, Rilke’s work ‘Herbst‘ meaning Autumn). Rilke had composed his poem soon after arriving in Paris in 1902, on September 11th. Extraordinary!
The first verse of Robertson’s poem, read one month after the attack to an audience at New York University is below…

‘The leaves are falling, falling from the trees
in dying gardens far above us; as if their slow
free-fall was the sky declining.’

And finally…
Poet and Writer D.H.Lawrence was born on 11th September 1885 (130 years ago).
I have picked out this particularly appropriate last line from his poem ‘Piano

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.’

Lots to think about today.

Captivated by Roses #roses #poetry #love #YouTube

The dear ROSE: no other flower features more often in poetry than ‘the symbol of a high romance and a loved one.’ Its colour, its fragrance, its long blooming summer season, its flamboyant eccentricities, its wrapped and curled baby bud, then open in full costume with loose petticoat petals and soft underbelly and complimented by it’s slender, tender, thorny (look, but don’t touch) stem and fine, pretty leaves. Here you have a ROSE.
So many splendid varieties, but we all have a special favourite.

‘Nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’ Asking for Roses by Robert Frost.

‘O my Luve’s like a red, red rose.’ A red, red rose by Robert Burns.

‘I went to my pretty rose tree
To tend her by day and by night.’ My Pretty Rose Tree by William Blake.

‘Gather ye rose buds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying…’ To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick.

‘It was a little budding rose
Round like a fairy globe…
Sweet was the slight and spicy smell.’ A Little Budding Rose by Emily Bronte

‘I dream of a red rose tree
And which of its roses three
Is the dearest rose to me.’ Women and Roses by Robert Browning

George Eliot’s poem Roses speaks almost childishly but so honestly about the joy of roses, you feel she may have quoted this carefree passage as you walked around the rose gardens together…

‘You love the roses – so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and waking, all at once.’

If you would like to hear my poem ‘In Fields’ read by actor, Tobias Menzies, with a YouTube video featuring roses, follow the link and fall in love…
http://youtu.be/9yK8e0trvrQ

‘The darling buds of May’

Poetry in nature, Nature in poetry; the two so intricately bound, they preserve each other beautifully.
In everything we see & do, we find poetry: a word, a line, a couplet, a verse; our language is peppered with worn phrases & quotations, part remembered & stored in our minds ready to be recited just at the perfect moment.
Be amazed! We have an incomparable poetic heritage and however young or old the poem or ourselves, there is a poetry moment waiting inside us all.
We can think & breathe the same life as our chosen poet has all those years ago; we too see the same beauty or feel the same pain.

‘Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…’
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare, 1609

William Shakespeare & I agree: the winds are whipping up the delicate apple blossoms & an English summer never lasts long enough. Kate Barnwell, 2015

‘The bluebell is the sweetest flower’

The Kent & East Sussex counties of England are embracing a soft touch of Spring rain allowing these peaceful purple & blue bells to stir in the wind. If they had a sound they would be a noisy clump! They carpet the deep, rich green woodlands as they have done for years, it is worth taking the car out just to catch sight of them.
American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86) found her inspiration, across the Atlantic Ocean in New England, from that same little blue bud…

“It is the slight and stately stem
The blossom’s silvery blue
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald blue.”

Short, simple & effective: this is the hardest kind of poetry…now one can look at this tiny flower with an even deeper affection.