As a poet I know the sustaining and enriching quality of closeness to the natural world. I try to observe nature as it is, cruel but also awe-inspiring in its inter-related balance. Everything depends on everything else, as we do. Take away a plant, you take away an insect, take away an insect you remove a bird, etc. Agricultural practice no longer curates our world but exploits it. In my writing I try, as the poet Charles Tomlinson does, to harvest my observations to create poems that draw the reader into the grace, delight and reality of the natural world. Nature is itself, and in its extraordinary and delicate balance I see the hand of God. For me liberal values towards peace, tolerance and dignity begin with cherishing and respecting our planet.
We have cut ourselves off from our spiritual roots by damaging in irreparable ways the very earth on which our lives depend. Without a spiritual sense we cannot live in the ‘peace and dignity’ that Gladstone advocated in his 1850 speech on the Don Pacifico affair. Without spiritual depth it is hard for us to be tolerant, to respect the rights of others to be who they are, to live in peace and dignity. In the Big Brother world we now inhabit where phones, computers can be hacked, Google has its satellite eye on us, surveillance cameras are everywhere, it is not surprising that material preoccupations, the least sustaining aspects of life, have taken the place of spiritual reflection.
Poetry Workshops with Poem Catchers