Tag Archives: poetry

The power of reading aloud together

The power of reading aloud together
The power of reading aloud together

Last Sunday, I got invited to something wonderful. I’d heard about the village here in Kent that had got together at Christmas and read Paradise Lost out loud to each other, and a friend and I were inspired – we would do the same! But somehow things got in the way and, er, we haven’t actually got round to it yet.

But luckily for Rolvenden, the same people who organised the Paradise Lost event organised another reading and luckily for me, I got an invitation. Because it seems you get the well-intentioned (me) and the actual do-ers (them). In this case it’s Rob Pursey, Amelia Fletcher and Colin Teevan – thank you thank you thank you! (I love the story about how when Rob and Colin first thought of the idea, they suspected it might be the two of them reading Milton to each other in a shed.)

Far from it. For this second event, they had invited Michael Longley and his wife, Edna, to visit them and to read his poems aloud with him, and about thirty of us crammed into Rob and Amelia’s wonderful sitting room and let the words wash over us. As Michael himself sat and listened! What a privilege. There was real magic in the communal experience, and a reminder that poetry should be read out loud – especially with all the different voices, accents and even the mangling of Irish place names, as we took one poem each to read in turn…

And I think Michael enjoyed it too…. here’s a gorgeous photo of him at the end of a full reading of his collection, The Stairwell that sums up the day….  (the photograph is by John Stanley, and Rob kindly said I could share it.)

michael longley.jpg

Yoga and writing

Yoga and writing

I’ve become obsessed with yoga recently – largely thanks to a wonderful studio, The Freestyle Yoga Project, just round the corner from me in Tunbridge Wells. The practice fits in well with writing (not least stretching shoulders normally hunched over the keyboard) so the FYP and I are planning some writing and yoga courses together. Hopefully more details soon but in the meantime, here’s a yoga poem for you…


Freestyle Yoga

Sarah Salway


Forty minutes into class,

and we’ve been dolphins, cats

and cows, roared like lions,

steady as sphinxes, our legs bent –

embrace the pain! – pigeon-style,


until, pedalling in dog,

fairy lights pulsing in the corner,

I see the world upside down –

our bodies, like misshapen skittles,

line up not to be knocked down


but to be anchored in breath,

drowned in great gulps of serenity,

and maybe the miracle is actually us,

almost unbearably human, striving

to take small steps to the impossible.