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3rd June 2017

“You are part of the very weave o silken thread,” Rainer Maria Rilke

waterloo festival 1On the day of the Writing on the Wall festival at St John’s Church, Waterloo, heavily armed police officers patrolled the train station. Within hours Britain’s latest terror attack had claimed innocent lives at nearby London Bridge. Amidst troubled times and with the currency of care and consciousness as their starting point, living Poets are asking the important question, how can poetry save the planet?

Caduceus Journal's poetry Editor Jay Ramsay gathered the influential speakers together at St John's, each one prefacing their talk with a poem of choice. Giles Hutchins, business leader and author of The Illusion of Separation and Future Fit got the ball rolling with Rilke's Sonnet to Orpheus, who is entreated to be transparent, transformed and aware of the bigger picture. Giles does not doubt that this is the hour of humanity’s reckoning, a moment to rejoin the hands of science and spirituality. He said timeless wisdom and long understood deep interconnectedness and sacredness replaced in the West by materialism and reason is causing separation and increasing fear, anxiety and individualism. A poetic way of being in the world of harmony, compassion and wisdom is the ground on which we now must walk.

The Reverend Peter Owen Jones, aka BBC2’s Extreme Pilgrim accepts that humanity stands at the threshold, and that “We have journeyed to this amazing, fragile, beautiful, dangerous point.” Acceptance of the real has completely changed the way he walks through life in terms of his responsibilities to himself and to the rest of the planet because it is happening now. We are called to attend, nurture and give birth to what is becoming, he said. “We are reforming our understanding of reality and that is so exciting, what a privilege to be alive at this point and that understanding is immanent within every single moment of existence, we just have to be known by it and tap it to it and to surrender.” His poem was Immersion by John Clare.

Reality was brought home by Glyn Davies (WWF) who recalls the pristine rain forest of Borneo before it was cleared for palm oil saturating many of the products in supermarkets. His poem was William Blake’s Tyger Tyger. And he asks how would we feel if there were no tigers in the wild? How can we address the slide towards extinction? I baulked at the thought of tigers being used as fundraisers, especially as I agree with poet Paul Matthews, whose poem Tigers? describes “the loss of this best articulation of his Wildness.“  With only  2-3,000 tigers are left in India, although numbers are rising slowly, their fate is entwined with ours and visionary poets understand that.

In the Writing from the Roots workshop in the Crypt under the magnificent Doric columned St John’s with Sian Thomas, poet in residence at Ashdown Forest, I relax amongst an East Sussex contingent. Vicar Giles Goddard and Waterloo festival founder also from the area. His flash poem revealed that Waterloo, like Venice, was built on marshland and is only ever inches away from sinking. Other unsuspecting poets went on a Rimbaud-Blake pilgrimage of Waterloo and Lambeth.

Helen Moore, the Bard of Bath, impressed with Hymn to Gaia and Climate Adaptation 2, in which she firmly places Mother Earth at the centre of her decision making from her low impact straw-bale home in Findhorn. Barefoot poet Aidan Andrew Dun, author of epic Vale Royal and Unholyland played Ball from his new Honeyland CD with Lucie Rejchrtova, and read Sensation by Arthur Rimbaud.

As poetry regains popularity, poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy transmits environmental messages about bee die-offs to wider audiences. Jay Ramsay’s poem Writing on the Wall, read not only to us, but last week to Jeremy Corbyn, is a prayer for unity, freedom from ego, fear and separation, and for Albion’s dream to become remade in the centre of our hearts, foreshadowing events that unfolded later that day. The event will be available as a podcast on Youtube shortly.


The Waterloo festival runs until June 25th
Sam Burcher is co-author of Green Energies and author of Garland, Flowers of Spirit (2013)

Pictured from top left to right Giles Hutchins, Giles Goddard, Sian Thomas, Aidan Dun, Helen Moore, Jay Ramsay (c) Sam BurcherHowCanPoetrySaveThePlanet