Licking Honey from a Thorn

Licking Honey from a Thorn

Garden of Awen: The Thorny Rose, 7 Feb 2010

1-7 February

A busy week – mainly taken over with teaching and marking. Mondays, Saltford with the older learners; Tuesday, my novel-writers at Bath Central Library; Wednesdays, Bath Writers Workshop; and now, on Thursday, running a new creative writing class now for Wiltshire College in Trowbridge. And this week – if that wasn’t enough on top of running three online courses – a dayschool on Saturday in Bath for the Open University.

But it wasn’t all pedagogical grind. Monday visited Glastonbury for the Imbolc Ceremony at the Goddess Hall – for the new book. It was great to roar down to the Tor on the Triumph – it’s first outing of the year. Then at the weekend I took the Legend up to the Edge, the stunning hills passed Stroud – and visited the beautiful rococo gardens near Painswick to see the snowdrops with a mate.

snowdrops at Rococo Gardens, PainswickSunday I ran the third Garden of Awen, exploring ‘The Thorny Rose’ of love, with excellent contributions from poets, storytellers and musicians. I launched my new collection, The Immanent Moment, with a set. I introduced the evening by citing a Welsh saying: ‘loving a woman who scorns you is like licking honey from a thorn’ – as I wanted to set the tone of the evening: a ‘sharp and sweet’ look at love. It wasn’t going to be all ‘Mills & Boons’. But this marvellous spiky metaphor might sum up one’s relationship with work and what we have to do to earn a buck. It drains us as we draw nourishment from it, and we hope that the gains will outweigh the losses. Last night, Anthony congratulated me on being such an inspiration to people. I said I felt like a rotting log – a tree that that falls, giving life to many other organisms in its decay! I had exhausted myself putting on a fantastic night of bardic entertainment – the atmosphere was great, the acts were fabulous, and we had a healthy turn out, but not enough to break even, or reciprocate the effort that myself and Svanur, the centre director, had put into it. However much it might all be worth it in the grand scheme of things, unless it sustains one while doing it, it can lead to burn out or bankruptcy. I get a buzz out of encouraging creativity in others and providing a platform for them to shine – but I still have to pay the rent. Would it were otherwise. That one’s efforts were reciprocate by qualitative rather than quantative value – I would be a rich man! But I guess one gains a different kind of capital. It all goes in the karma bank, I suppose…

As with love, we cannot see it as a strict return investment – measure for measure – we just have to trust in it as it is shared. A tree gives selflessly and is all the more glorious for it – even if it ends up home for fungi!


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