Sunday Poem – Jonathan Humble

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Sunday Poem – Jonathan Humble

I’m back to my old habits of late-night blogging today and I suspect most of you will be reading this on Monday morning.  I’ve had a better week than last week health-wise, although I didn’t really start eating properly again till Wednesday. I’ve done two Read Regional events this week – one in Gateshead on Monday afternoon, with a lovely group, who were really a dream audience, very engaged and astute, and then on Thursday another Read Regional event in Hull, again with a great audience and a lovely librarian.

I decided to stay over in Hull rather than doing my usual thing of hacking back home through the night, as I was reading in Lancaster the next day at Lancaster Spotlight.  Spotlight is one of my favourite events – it’s the first place that ever paid me to read poetry, and you never quite know who is going to get up on the open mic.  I was reading with Ron Scowcroft and Rachel McGladdery.  I always enjoy Ron’s poetry, and it was nice to hear some of his new work.  I haven’t seen Rachel for ages, and again, I’ve always loved her work, but to me it felt like the new poems had really moved up a couple of gears.  The discovery of the night was Kriss Foster – a comedian/musician who was just fantastic – very funny and entertaining.  I think I remember someone saying he is doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, so if you get a chance to see him, go! The open mic slots were a really high standard, and in fact the Sunday Poet this week, Jonathan Humble was one of the people who performed on the Open Mic. He read this week’s Sunday Poem on the Open Mic and I managed to nab him and get permission to post it up this week.

I should say first of all that the lovely Helen Ivory has published a slightly shorter version of this poem up at Ink, Sweat and Tears, a great online magazine which is well worth checking out.

 

A Happy Ending For Petrologists
By Jonathan Humble

A pebble sat upon a beach and thought, as would a stone,
Of whether in the Universe it was a soul alone.
For it could see no evidence to otherwise disprove
That rocks had not the wherewithal to think or talk or move.

And there with countless coloured stones, all smooth and weatherworn,
Supressed its angst, lay motionless, stayed quiet and forlorn.
Through summers and through winters, it endured its solitude;
In pebbly reflection, existentially it stewed.

It watched the sun, it watched the stars, endured the rain and snow.
It contemplated life and death until it felt quite low.
In sad and sorry state it grew despondent day by day;
For company it yearned more than this poem can convey.

And as its hopes diminished with each wave that crashed the shore,
It worried that it might be quite alone forever more.
Until it sighed aloud and solitude came to an end;
A fellow pebble turned and smiled and asked to be its friend.

I really liked this poem when I heard it on Friday – you all probably know my weakness for poems with souls in them.   I also think this poem has something of the air of a Stevie Smith poem – it is playful and light, and has a childlike rhythm to it, but I think there is also something else at work on another level.  I found it funny and oddly moving at the same time when I heard it, although I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why!  I do love the last line though, and the galloping rhythm of the line ‘It watched the sun, it watched the stars, endured the rain and snow’.  I think there is a bit of the spirit of Emily Dickinson in this poem as well.

Jonathan Humble is a deputy head teacher in a small rural primary school in Cumbria. His poetry and short stories have appeared in The Big Issue In The North, Poems For Freedom, The Caterpillar Magazine, Stew Magazine, The Looking Glass Magazine, Paragram, Dragon Poet Quarterly, Lighten Up Onhttp://jhpoetry.blogspot.co.ukline, Ink Sweat & Tears and on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Cumbria. Through TMB Books, he has published a collection of light verse entitled My Camel’s Name Is Brian. He appears regularly at Verbalise in the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal and occasionally at other spoken word events in the North-West.  If you’d like to find out more about Jonathan, he has a blog: http://jhpoetry.blogspot.co.uk
So after a great night at Lancaster Spotlight, I got home at just after midnight and then couldn’t get to sleep because I was too wired from the event. I eventually stopped dancing around to Mick Jagger (don’t ask) at about 2am in the morning.  Then I was up again and leaving for Bradford at 10am on Saturday morning.  I read at Bradford Literature Festival on Saturday afternoon alongside Ian Duhig, Peter Riley, Anthony Costello, Tom Cleary and Natalie Rees.
I went to a poetry event in the evening with Carol Ann Duffy, Imtiaz Dharkar, Jo Bell, Sudeep Sen, Selina Nwelu, Avaes Mohammed, Rehana Roohi and Ralph Dartford – all in one event – that is a lot of poets! I didn’t know the work of Rehana before and I couldn’t understand any of it because it was in another language, but I loved her performance – members of the audience joined in and repeated lines back to her, or asked her to repeat lines again and I wondered what it would be like if we did that in English poetry – it certainly felt less staid than a lot of poetry readings! She finished her set off by singing one of her poems and it was really beautiful – worth going for her performance alone.
After the reading, I went back to the hotel bar and sat chatting with various poets until 2am, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and necessary, but this morning I was cursing my inability to put myself to bed at a reasonable time.
I had a bit of a ridiculous journey back as well – all my own fault.  I assumed I was travelling back from Forster Square train station in Bradford, and I wasn’t – so I missed the train, and had to wait an hour before getting it from the Interchange.  Because of this, I had to wait for an hour in Preston, but I was sitting in the sunshine on the platform reading my book, and the train basically pulled up in front of me and left again without me realising, so then I had another hour to wait.  What a muppet I am! I did finally get home in one piece without any more mishaps.

Next week I’m running a voluntary workshop in a prison, which I’m really looking forward to, running my Young Writers workshop, and hopefully getting back to some running now I’m feeling better.

One more thing to mention – sadly, one of the tutors on the August Poetry Carousel, Saskia Stehouwer from Holland, has had to pull out due to ill health.  William Letford has agreed to come and tutor on the Carousel instead, and I’m really looking forward to working with him.  He is well known as a fantastic performer and inspirational tutor.  So the full line up of the tutors will now be myself, Clare Shaw, Tsead Bruinja and William Letford.  You can find more information about the carousel on the ‘Residential Courses’ tab: https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/residential-poetry-courses/poetry-carousel/
Spaces are starting to fill up on the Carousel, so if you’ve been thinking about booking a place and haven’t got round to it, I would advise doing so before all the best rooms in the hotel go.
Thanks again to the wonderful Jonathan Humble for the use of his poem on the blog this week.

 

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7 responses »

  1. I enjoyed hearing this at Spotlight and it’s great to see it on here too.
    Glad you got home eventually, it was lovely seeing you at Lancaster again.

  2. There’s an image and a symbol to treasure. When I was youngly-married and poor I used to be ‘absorbed’ in my book so the bus conductor would sometimes not interrupt me to ask for the fare. But I’ve never read so deep into a book that I failed to get on a train. You need a sort of Boswell to facilitate your travels.

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