Category Archives: Bardic Poetry

Search for the Bard of Hawkwood

 

THE SEARCH FOR THE BARD OF HAWKWOOD 2018 BEGINS!

 

Bardic Chair of Hawkwood 1882

The Bardic Chair of Hawkwood, 1882 original eisteddfod chair, donated by Richard Maisey. Photo by K. Manwaring

The annual Bard of Hawkwood contest 2018 has been launched with the outgoing bard announcing the theme. Madeleine Harwood won the contest at the Hawkwood College Open Day last May Day, commented upon her time as Bard of Hawkwood:

 

‘Being the Bard of Hawkwood afforded me an incredible boost in confidence and self worth. Furthermore it enabled me to achieve more in the past 9 months than in my previous 25 years of singing. With new found love and passion plus the support of loved ones I was able to write and record my first album, and many performances have followed, with yet more rolling in for 2018. Most of all it has taught me not to hide in the shadows, to seize every moment and every opportunity, as you never know where it will lead, and for that I will be ever grateful.’

Madeleine, as the outgoing bard, got to choose the theme for this year’s contest: Charm or Ignorance. The judges (to be announced) are looking for the best original poem, song or story on the theme/s, as performed at the Hawkwood College Open Day on May Day bank holiday Monday, 7th May, in front of an audience. Performers are encouraged to memorize their piece, which should be no more than 10 minutes. The contest is open to anyone aged 18 or over who lives in Stroud and the Five Valleys. Along with the poem, song or story (the text of which needs to be sent in advance to the administrator, see below) the entrant needs to write a Bardic Statement, declaring what they would do during their year in office, and how they would represent Hawkwood College, demonstrating an awareness of the College’s values and vision.

The Bard of Hawkwood contest was instigated by Kevan Manwaring in 2014, who moved to Stroud in 2010 from Bath, where he won the Bard of Bath contest back in 1998. He became involved in the running of the ‘Bardic Chair’ and went onto to write a book about the tradition. He says:

‘The Bard of Hawkwood becomes the ambassador for the Bardic Chair, Hawkwood College, and their area. Having been a winner myself (in Bath) I know how empowering it can be – not only for the individual recipient, but also for their respective community. It is about celebrating local distinctiveness, fostering civic pride, and loving where you live.’

The deadline to enter is Monday 16 April 2018. Entries (3 copies of entry and statement) should be sent to: K. Manwaring, The Annexe, Richmond House, Park Road, Stroud, GL5 2JG
Organiser: Kevan Manwaring 01453 763703 kevanmanwaring@yahoo.co.uk

Hawkwood College Tel: 01453 759034

http://www.hawkwoodcollege.co.uk/

 

Hawkwood-College1

The beautiful setting of Hawkwood College, home of the Bard of Hawkwood

 

 

 

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Breaking Light: part five

space sunrisev

 

It is late. It is early.

 

And the world is turning beneath us,

so let us hold onto one another,

for where we go to sleep

is not the same place we wake up.

Everything shifts  –  the Earth

tilts

 

we have only our the axis of our love

to stop us from spinning off into space.

 

You anchor me

with your eyes,

a touch, a word,

breathed in the night,

a smile at break of day.

 

We contain each other with such

lightness,

allowing our spaces to dance

against one another.

To make a third shape between.

 

I inhale you. You exhale me.

 

I slip into bed, blindly, seeing by heat,

and let the warmth you have left

envelop me.

 

Our souls fit together,

like our bodies do.

 

As though,

way back when

before the beginning,

we had been wrought as one,

then, broken apart –

to be finally,

blissfully –

joined once more.

 

The same light

shining through us both.

 

Love,

the home where we belong –

the door with our names on –

 

waiting for us to arrive.

 

FINIS

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

Breaking Light: part four

dawn_caress_by_capturing_the_light-d4nu44g

iv

 

It is late. It is early.

 

We finally met

at Lammas –

when summer first seems to sense

its own mortality.

Ours is a late summer love.

Not the foolishness of Spring,

swept along by giddy lusts,

the chancy intoxication of the May,

nor the apparent glory of June,

when midsummer dazzles us

with its gaudy enchantment,

 

but a love of long shadows,

of languid contentment.

 

Ripening to prime –

we are ready for love’s press.

It insists we offer all.

What can be gained from

withholding the tiniest drop?

Pulp and pith and pip,

let the cloth of truth,

contain our allness.

 

Gladly we bring our bounty to share

to the harvest supper of the heart.

 

Arriving in splendour,

wearing our autumn like a crown,

we greet each other

at the end of a long road,

our harlequin robes

stretching behind us.

 

Stopping to let the sunset slip

like a mug of copper hops

down a thirsty throat

over the blue tapestry of hills

pegged to the sky by trees,

we give thanks for the abundance,

the riches of the year,

strewn before us

with such wild abandon.

 

Yet the thrift of Mother Earth

means nothing

is wasted.

 

All the ungathered,

unreachable treasure

that falls on the ground,

unpicked, to rot,

becomes the mulch

from which the future grows.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

 

Breaking Light: part three

autumn sunrise

iii

 

It is late. It is early.

 

Lady Autumn

teaches us

the art of letting go,

as she performs her annual yard sale,

de-cluttering with a tut, a smile,

a shake of the head,

tidying away the toys of summer.

 

She sings as she sweeps –

her long skirts

layered with a patchwork of leaves,

gathering up all that we don’t need

in her wake.

 

Busily she insists

we put our house in order

before the harsher times ahead.

Her winter sister is not so sentimental

when she brings her black bag,

as bottomless as a December night.

 

Despite all we have done,

the gifts we have squandered,

her treasures plundered,

still the Earth

is beautiful.

 

Still the Earth

will forgive us.

Her compassion is endless,

and we will weep at her feet

before this is played out.

 

But first, a favourite vinyl crackles

to the centre.

The needle gathers dust.

With a melancholy pang

Lady Autumn revisits her old haunts,

her maiden places,

savouring the memory one last time

before letting it fade.

 

She presses the best

into the palimpsest of the past,

a bonfire for the rest.

Smoke curlews from the piles of leaves,

gathered into golden dragon hoards,

to be kicked –

and, for a moment,

we are as rich as bank robbers,

the folding gold falling around us.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

Breaking Light: part two

first light

ii

 

It is late. It is early.

 

Lady Autumn is walking

with sloe-eyed grace

through our lives once again;

rose-hipped, withy-limbed,

bejewelled with blackberries like

tiny bunches of grapes,

ready to burst on your tongue,

lips, fingertips,

stained with juice;

rowan berries, hard as nipples;

elder berries glisten like spider eyes,

from boughs of yellow flames,

watching.

 

The forest floor

where we made love

sanctified by

your blood, my seed,

mingling with the soil.

Its rich earth of

fertile death

scattered with ash keys, acorns,

fur-flowered beechmast,

horse chestnuts, hard and smooth

in their spiky jackets

(like antiques packed in a sea mine),

the milky bullets of cobs,

walnuts ransacked by Ratatosk

buried in forgotten cists,

fungi erupting from another world,

like fish gasping for breath,

gills gaping.

 

I graze lazily through your edible forest  –

pore my hot breath into your jew’s ear,

rifle your King Alfred’s cakes

and penny buns,

devour your chicken-in-the-woods.

 

I trace the lace of your mycelia –

the wood’s lingerie. I yield

to your moreish morel,

drink champagne from your chanterelle.

You lick my slippery jack,

make my puff balls

explode.

 

Feral cry in the thicket,

the grunt of wild boar

snuffling out truffles,

the sow’s ear of his mate.

A roe deer freezes, wet nostrils twitch,

a flank shivers,

and it leaps into the wood’s legend.

 

The sunlight snags

on the canopy’s lattice,

the chlorophyll circuit-board

of a crimson leaf,

the abacus of dew

on a cobweb.

 

Nature’s astonishing

attention to detail

insisting

we notice

 

like an act of love.

 

I stroke your face

with a tuft of old man’s beard,

circumnavigate you with a feather,

all your inlets and promontories.

 

We cast a limpet shell

on the river

laden with our dreams

and laugh as it sinks.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

The Taliesin Soliloquies: Greyhound

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll teach that young upstart,

this new dog’s got old tricks –

the fith-fath he fled with.

Long dog now am I,

deadly Sirius,

death at his heels,

snapping, slavering –

a knife thrust, forever forward,

fangs bared in tight death grin,

eyes on fire,

I shall never blink,

never lose sight of my prey.

As swift as a wisht-hound

running through the sky,

the night, my road,

harrowing souls who stray

into the wild-wood.

There is nowhere you can hide,

little hare,

no hollow or shadow.

No leverage, leveret.

Your scent leaves a ribbon of bright noise

my nose follows with ease.

I am drawing near,

I taste your fur

on my long tongue.

Little Gwion, you’ll make a toothsome morsel,

replace the potion you have stolen,

the awen usurped

from my son.

 

Hare-thief, there’s no taboo

that will stop me eating you,

the darkness to devour you

in one gigantic

gulp.

 

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

way of awen by me

From ‘The Taliesin Soliloquies’, originally published in The Way of Awen: journey of a bard, O Books 2010; to be included in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring, Awen, 2017 https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Hare

The Taliesin Soliloquies: Hare

AbyssinianHare

Crazy-eyed,

I high-tail it

away from Ceridwen’s lair,

jink-jinking to

avoid my pursuer

snapping at my heels –

relentless as death,

inescapable as my shadow.

Heart beating its tattoo of flight,

legs thrum, a drummer boy’s sticks.

Through cwm, over bryn, cefn, coed,

the gaps between the awkward spaces,

through a hedge backwards, this-way-that –

a mad man’s mind.

Method to my erratic path,

yet always, her hot breath at my back.

Driven by the fire in my

stream-lined head, an arrow of fur,

Long ears swept back,

best paws forward. Rabbit foot, bring me luck.

Ablaze with awen,

The world transformed

into a landscape of scent and sound,

predator and prey. Forage, territory and fate.

Moon-boxer,

I must turn and face my foe –

run through the fire and be transformed.

Let the fith-fath change me.

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

way of awen by me

From ‘The Taliesin Soliloquies’, originally published in The Way of Awen: journey of a bard, O Books 2010; to be included in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring, Awen, 2017 https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/