Before a dormant fireplace in the Taunton Mills library, four literature connoisseurs discuss the art of poetry. The group is smaller today than it typically is – summer can be like that as the plans of people change – but this small group is enveloped in conversation and discussion as they always are, regardless of the numbers.
The poetry group came into being late in 2018 under the leadership of the Village’s unassuming poet laureate, Patricia Bayley. Her love of the flow and flower of the written word has been with her as long as she can remember, she says, and it has carried and guided her through life, helping give voice to her inner self and discover meaning in the undiscoverable.
That passion for poetry continues today and in the Village she adopted as her home with her husband Dennis nearly three years ago, she’s found like-minded people to share her new work with while discussing some of the great poems and poets of the past and present.
Pauline Reed is here this morning, a former educator who inspired countless young people to discover literature for themselves throughout her career. Olive Roberts is a professional photographer and world traveller who, now in her 90s, is discovering a new form of art and exploring her feel for the written word thanks to this poetry club. Myrla Sanderson is also here this morning, and like the others, she is happy to close her eyes as the flow of spoken word comes to her and consider the deeper meaning in what she hears.
The first poem Patricia reads is an original she’s been working on for some time. It’s about bridges, both the physical structures that connect communities and the less tangible ones that help navigate the oft-challenging paths of relationship. It’s a powerful message, succinct and beautifully written.
She has a gift. This poem is likely the one she’ll publish in the Village’s upcoming newsletter. It could be published far wider than that.
Her friends go on to offer their view on the subject and the conversation meanders through the bridges in each of their lives; thoughts interrupt each other as the discussion flows.
“The interruptions are the main event,” Patricia says with smile, her delicate British accent somehow adding to her words.
She goes on to read other poems to spark discussion while Pauline offers one she discovered from the 1600’s by a poet named John Dryden. The Art of Poetry was Dryden’s explanation of the path a poem takes from thought to draft to potential perfection through revision, and the group discusses that process at length.
An hour passes in mere moments, and a final cheeky poem about Mae West closes the session with laughter and gratitude filling the library.
“It’s a lovely hour,” Myrla says. “I wouldn’t miss it. The whole thing – the interaction with the ideas and talking together.”
Patricia has offered her gift to The Village, and like any good idea it seems to have spread organically. To follow one’s passion and offer it to others is the essence of growth in community, and this idea shines brightly today at Taunton Mills.
On the Rocks
By Patricia Bailey
These monoliths so tall and grand
created by a master hand
silent witness in the light
or caverns carved in darkest night.
History stories spoken true
Mind’s eye revealing what to do.
We search the limestone shale and clay
and shape the stone a different way.
As time and skill evolve we find
our use of stone is unconfined.
Now tumbled stones landscaped and bound
by concrete edge and grass surround
their beauty, function, shape is found
in streams as well as hallowed ground.
The past still hides in plainest sight
worn grains of sand reflect the light
enclosed by childhood’s tiny hand
tossed gleefully upon the strand
and mountain peaks so tall and grand
earth’s crust raised up as nature planned.