Thursday, 24 January 2013

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority

Words of wisdom come at you from the strangest of places.  Back in the days of yore when I was training to be a nurse (no I didn't complete it and I don't want to look at your rash) we were told that the source most people trusted for health advice was their friends and family.  If you have the aforementioned rash do you go straight to the GP or do you get someone else to look at it first?  Now admittedly these days Google has taken over as the 'go to' place for immediate advice but there's nothing quite like whipping it out for a friend and waiting for them to politely ask you to show them again when you get out of the supermarket.

As the naked emporer discovered, wisdom does not require age, experience or knowledge.  The title of today's blog suggests that wisdom requires time but this is not necessarily the case.  A child is just as likely to make a meaningful observation as an elder.  Perhaps more so as they lack the myriad of, sometimes meaningless, associations which can cloud an adult's perception.

On National Poetry Day, I joined Jamie Field at the Southbank Centre for readings by, among others, Roger McGough and Grace Nichols.  The majority of the audience consisted of teenagers in school uniforms who had come to cheer on their classmates.  Ira Lightman, along with several other brilliant poets, had spent time in schools working with these teens on poetry for the Peace Camp Project and some of them were brave enough to stand up in front of an audience of about 350 people and read their work.  They did so confidently and seriously.  The performances were punctuated by loud cheers from their colleagues.

Some of the poetry they wrote with Ira can be read here.  I am particularly fond of this one:


I like you but
only when I feel like it,
love you
only sometimes.

The students went on to produce sculptural lockets for the poetry with artist Bethan Maddocks and theatre designer Verity Quinn. If you were looking for a wise way of spreading your words, this has to be worth a try.

You can find more poetry by high school students on the Poetry Zone website.  If you have a young poet in your life (or you fancy yourself as a young poet), send them across to the Young Poets' Network. It has writing challenges, poetry maps, games and a strong community of budding poets.

My meta-wisdom: if you want to be wise, stop thinking.  Throw away the years, make yourself small, forget what you think you know.  Listen.  Turn off the television, go for a walk.  Stand in a bus stop at 8.15 or 3.30pm.  Listen.  Sit on a bench in a skate park.  Listen. 

Teens are sharing wisdom all the time (or so my phone bill tells me) but we seldom give them a platform.  Perhaps that's why they shout.



Lisa McFleeca said...

Roger McGough is my childhood hero along with the other poets of "The Mersey Sound". Before I appreciate reading you work I have to acknowledge the utter jealousy I am harbouring right now so that I can let it go! :-)

Patrick wrote this - I feel I must not correct it for it to be appreciated in it's true glory although I have put in the critical conversation points to assist.

Won day,
grumpee went to werk,
(Should this rhyme mummy?
Well it can it's up to you.)
Rime pime time.
Lizzed went to.
They went to a
(Grandma how do you spell sewer?)
They went to a sewer.
It smell like trumps.
They went to grumpees hows.
(That's it now Mummy,
have I helped you with your school work? -

Patrick, aged 6 ;)

Lisa McFleeca said...

Brill post by the way - I'm off to have a read

vicky ellis said...

I love Patrick's poem. No wonder he is grumpee if he works in a sewer with a lizzed!

Anonymous said...

Alternatively: got a question? Ask a teenager while they still know everything.

Ashley R Lister said...

I can't tell you how envious I am that you got to rub shoulders with such posh names as Roger McGough, Grace Nichols and Jamie Field.

Great post - as always :-)