I am happy to say that this month I signed a contract wth Canterbury Press, who publish my current volume of sonnets, Sounding the Seasons, to publish a new volume of poetry at the end of this year, to be called The Singing Bowl. This will be a more wide-ranging collection thatn Sounding the Seasons, which was restricted specifically to sonnets following the liturgical year. In The Singing Bowl I spread my wings a little and offer poetry in many forms on a wide variety of subjects gathered from my writing over many years. It will include love poetry, nature poetry, and poems responding to contemporary life and culture, as well as more explicitly devotional and Christian poems. There will still be a link with Sounding the Seasons, as the new book will also contain ‘The Household of Faith’, a sequence of sonnets on the saints and other Christian figures who have been part of the cloud of witness for so many of us, including St. Augustine of Canterbury, Hildegarde of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and CS Lewis.
Over the course of the next few months I will be posting some sample poems from the new collection to this blog and I thought i would start today with the title poem. This poem was inspired by the beautiful Tibetan singing bowl in the photo above which trembles into sound, lovely sustained and resonant, as you run a ‘beater’ or even a finger, round its rim. The poem came to me as a word from the muse which was both about how to pray and how to fulfil my vocation as a poet. I hope you find it helpful and resonant too.
As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button. I have also recorded this poem with the Jazz-poetry collective ‘riprap’ with whom I sometimes work, so I have included a youtube clip of one of our live performances after the text of the poem.
Begin the song exactly where you are,
Remain within the world of which you’re made.
Call nothing common in the earth or air,
Accept it all and let it be for good.
Start with the very breath you breathe in now,
This moment’s pulse, this rhythm in your blood
And listen to it, ringing soft and low.
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.
Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.
And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.