Online Exhibition 2020

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Helen Holmes
Tony Roberts
Pam Stocker
Susan Waters

Four members of the FPAA’s poetry group submitted examples of their work – with each contributing books or poems they have written within the last year

Helen Holmes

Helen Holmes is a senior Psychology lecturer and clinical-academic supervisor at the Institute of Psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience at Kings College London, and a group and accredited individual therapist on a psychosis unit at the Maudsley Hospital, alongside working in private practice in North London. Additionally, Helen is a qualified radio producer, helping people voice their interests, through documentary programmes and presenting music for Resonance FM.

Her book Seeing God in Our Birth Experiences explores the pre and perinatal links to religious development and the psychoanalytic framework within which the paradigm is placed.

Seeing God In Our Birth Experiences

Tony Roberts

I was born and bred a Christian, and I believe in the dignity and sanctity of marriage for all: man and woman, woman and woman, man and man. Too often, the mainstream churches focus on the copulatory dimension of intimate relationships, and judge (and condemn) by biblical standards. They forget that love and sexuality are a holy house with many mansions, reaching out to end-of-life issues and perhaps beyond. The poem ‘Love is‘ is my retort  to the churches.

My Muse for the second poem ‘Nunc Demittis‘ is Cathy Carson, the much loved and esteemed poet, therapist and cancer nurse from Belfast.  The poem is dedicated to all the professionals who bring comfort and peace to those at the end of their lives.

Love is

Love is
Passionate steamy nights
Where the sexual embraces last
Until sunrise.

Love is
When, love-entwined
Together you look forward to
The rose-garden future.

Love is
Being beside your Beloved
When the phone call comes.

Love is
Having your Beloved sit with you
As you await your turn
For radiotherapy.

Love is
Washing the Beloved down
Cleaning them up.

Love is
Holding each other’s hands
As, together, you face the Dark Gates.

Love is
Having your Beloved beside you
When your name is called.

Love is
Holding the Beloved’s  hand
When the machine is switched off

Love is
One standing on the shore
Looking out,
While the Other sets sail
On the Night Sea-Journey.

Yes –
That’s why I believe in marriage,
For all who wish it.

For all

Nunc Dimittis

He knew what they were about to do.
Despite the sedation
A part of him was separate, alert
Above the battle
He could hear every word that they were saying.
The only other sound, the whispers
Of the machine
That was keeping him alive.
He knew what they were about to do.

And then he felt a hand
A hand reaching out to him
Tenderly holding his own hand,
A human hand, certainly;
But also the hand of Christ.
A message of Farewell
A message of Welcome
A peace that passes all understanding
And in his mind he travelled back over the years
When in his pram he had yearned out
“Ah…Nanny, Ah… Nanny”
And he knew that he had been searching for her
All his life.
He had found her now.
He had finally come home.

Soon, the silence.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant
Depart in peace: according to Thy word.

Pam Stocker

Pam Stocker is a counsellor, poet and textile artist working in Rutland, England. Her poetry explores life and loss, human flourishing and daring to have a voice. Her poems have a strong visual sense, and she has a keen eye for the connections between the rhythms of the seasons and of life.

Slow Day Dawning is her first collection of poems, and takes the theme of emerging identity in the face of the challenges of childhood and of grief. It celebrates the natural world, and the comfort of creativity and connection.

The collection is available by contacting Pam directly by email or through her website.

The poem ‘Red Letter Day’ is taken from Pam’s second collection My Side of the Mountain. It is one of a series which explores the comfort of finding words in the silence of estrangement.

Red Letter Day

Writing you this letter,
I want to tell you
that I feel much better.

Unsent, unspoken,
my word to you
has not been broken.

Yet my tongue’s untied,
my heart unfettered;
this card a token that all’s not lost,

love returning
like the swallows each new June
to the wires outside my childhood room.

My pen loops words
like an old tune humming,
things hardly worth remark,

the stuff that everydays are made of:
scones for tea on Sunday afternoon,
a toddler’s pell-mell teeter in the park,

a snowdrop walk, a late frost,
a new moon,
Spring coming – not now, but soon.

Slow Day Dawning

Susan Waters

The poem Notes on a Pandemic was written to bring encouragement during the Covid crisis. While I acknowledge that this is a tough time, the poem focusses on the positives and remembers the sustaining beauty of nature.

My photograph is of the Higham Ferrers “Community of Hope” project. People have been invited to tie rainbow coloured ribbons on the railings next to St. Mary’s Church; it has become a lovely feature in the town.

Notes on a pandemic

What stories shall we tell
past knotted fear:

Of touching without flesh
of Winter-seeded faith
of viral music trumpeting
imagine all the people
of hands sounding gratitude
of words looped over metered space
threading a collective
of parked tyres, dusty tarmac;
the exhaling earth
the constancy of sun
a pink crescent moon
the usual light on

all our faces

Visitors book

“I am very impressed indeed by your layout and formatting.There are a number of ‘firsts’ here: This is the first FPAA on-line exhibition. It is the first time we have had writing in the exhibition. It is the first time that folk have been able to display and market their books. It is the first time that there has been a link to an audio-visual performance.”

“I think it was a good idea to include the poetry”

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