Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Quiet woman

After my recent small success (runner up out of 5000 entrants in Sage life story comp) I was touched to receive warm congratulations from a number of old members of a couple of writing groups – now defunct – I used to belong to.

 One of them – Doris Sloley had had her poetry book published and was going to be reading from it at our library on National Poetry Day.  I decided to go and support her and buy her book which she obligingly signed.

 Doris always emanated a warm tranquillity – quite rare in writer’s circles –and to me she personifies Somerset and Exmoor.  She was born between Wheddon Cross and Timberscombe and moved to a farm at the age of four.  She composed her first poem aged nine lying in bed at night.  Although she never wrote it down she can still remember it.  At thirteen, encouraged by her teacher, she wrote four poems which appeared in the school magazine.

 Then she had a fallow period when she was aware her poetry didn’t come up to Keats or Tennyson and writing poetry was considered very eccentric.  You didn’t tell anyone you wrote poetry.

 She had an idyllic childhood on the farm with her beloved sheep and all the sights, sounds and smells of Exmoor.  When she was about 39 her father retired from farming. This was a traumatic time for Doris; she took a job in an office but after three years the stress of life in the fast lane got to me and I had a nervous breakdown.

 Jenny Glanfield who encouraged and helped Doris put the book together says:
 unlike so much contemporary  poetry you don’t need a key to get into  Doris’s poems; there is no intellectual barrier  shutting out the reader.  On the contrary her poems are ‘hooky’- hooking you in and making you want to read on.
Dipping into Bluebells, Rainbows and Sheep over the last week I have found this to be true.  In Doris’s words it is accessible.  It is beautifully illustrated with Doris’s old photos underlying the verse as if one is looking through the mist of the years

I asked Doris which was her favourite poem and she said that was like asking a mother which was her favourite child. .
Heartbreak, joy, sadness and humour are present in this book.  What more is there?

Return to Exmoor

by Doris Sloley

Pick me a bluebell, next time you go there.

Walk through the wood and on over the stream,

Up the green slope with grasshoppers singing,

Just where I, oftentimes go in my dreams.

I can go back, myself, if I want but

If I return to the place that I knew,

All of my memories will crowd in and then

I shall be sad- but it’s different for you.

You haven’t known the fun of haymaking,

Watched tadpoles wriggle and dart in the pond,

Helped to ‘head out’ a corn rick by moon light,

Rode through the fields to the moorland beyond,

Run to a meadow where lambs were playing,

Skipping and racing in boundless delight,

Climbed up the hill where we would go sledging

In winter when all was coated in white.


Is there a tree, still, in the old orchard?

Can you find lanes where wild strawberries grow?

Are there blackberries, now in the cow field?

Do you hear calls of a distant curlew?


I want to keep all these memories of mine

Locked up in my heart, unaltered by time.

Doris now lives in the pretty village of Monksilver – so near and yet so far.  On a lighter note;

Compliment – or Not

It was all a long, long time ago

And I’ve no regrets, not now.

But did you have to give my name to

Your pedigree Friesian cow?

This is a book I shall be keeping close to hand.  Available from Amazon £9.99


Pearl said...

I really like her and her poetry.


savannah said...

lovely! this is perfect:

I can go back, myself, if I want but

If I return to the place that I knew,

All of my memories will crowd in and then

I shall be sad- but it’s different for you.

poetry should be part of our daily life because of words like
this! thank you, sugar! xoxoxox

angryparsnip said...

Lovely !
I agree with Savannah that was my favorite part, so much thought.
"Compliment -or Not" is a hoot !

cheers, parsnip

kenju said...

That is a lovely poem and I can picture it in my mind - using some of your photos for fodder.

Pat said...

Pearl: that's good:)

Savannah: so glad you appreciate it.xoxox

Parsnip: there is quite a bit of humour in the book.

Pat said...

Judy: what a lovely idea.

Chef Files said...

"there is no intellectual barrier shutting out the reader."

What a great line.

Pat said...

Chef: I later realised that the person who wrote it - Jenny Glandfield_ had taken one of the last writing classes I went to. Doris was lucky to have her help. I sometimes think I shoulld have been braver about asking other writers to read my book whilst it was in progress.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Really lovely and indeed, so accessible....I'm going to go over to Amazon and get me a copy...!
Thanks so much, Pat....!

Chef Files said...

Pat, it's no about bravery hen, it's about confidence. You have plenty of that.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ahh, love the Friesian cow poem! I was uncertain about the other poem, partly because I've never been convinced that anybody actually hears the call of the curlew except in poetry, but then I realised that Doris probably manages to get out a lot more than I do.

lom said...

Beautiful, the first poem that is. Although the second one is funny.

Granny Annie said...

I love poets and poetry and made a considerable sum writing custom, descriptive poetry for all occasions on order in the late 80's and early 90's. Two blog poets thrill me but one has ceased blogging and I miss her. Did you ever read Talon? Another has emerged who I enjoy a great deal. Ashok is on my sidebar.

Your friend has obviously lived in a time gone by that wrapped her in the beauty of nature. You shared a treasure today.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Poets are gentle souls who shouldn't subject themselves to life in an office if it can be helped. Accessible poetry works best for me. I don't deal in metaphor very well. Isn't having a signed copy the best?

rashbre said...

It looks like an entertaining read. I like the wistful and somehow joyous nature of the first one and the giggle that should accompany the second one.

Poetry seems to have a resurgence of interest nowadays. I've visited a few recent readings where it's very much alive and well.

Pat said...

Naomi: I'm sure you'll love it.]

Chef: we'll see if you are right - by next week. DV

Gadjo: trust me - with all those years on the farm on Exmoor Doris will have heard everything.

LOM: I wish I could have quoted more but I think Doris preferred that I left it to the two examples. Of course I asked her permission.

Pat said...

Granny Annie: good for you!
I shall look up Ashok.
Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to reporting them to Doris.

UB: at one time Doris and - what she calls the three P's -Paul, Penne and Pat were the only ones left of a writing circle. We all encouraged each other but in my copy she actually thanks me. So sweet.

Rashbre: the first one made me a bit misty eyed and I found 'Breakdown ' very moving.

R. Sherman said...

After a long hiatus, I'm back to commenting, at leas occasionally.

Congrats on your success, dear. Well deserved.

I shall now go to catch up.


Pat said...

Randalol: that's the second lovely, exciting thing that has happened today. SOOO pleased.

Pat said...

So excited I can't spell Randall:)