Today’s Featured Poem is a slightly unusual one, as it was written by Marina Sanchez, a volunteer facilitator with The Reader Organisation. Here she explains the shared reading session which inspired her to write the poem ‘Reading Aloud Group’:
Two years ago, shortly after doing the The Reader Organisation’s training course, I was given the opportunity of doing a short Reading Aloud project at the local Irish Centre, during lunch times with the older members. It was a great learning curve for me and we had a great time and it was very sad when it came to an end.
My poem came about after one very moving session, when for the first and only time during the project, a group member who had dementia, had a series of very clear, lucid reminiscences about her childhood and shared them with the group, much to our delight. We had been reading an extract by Polly Devlin from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman and some wonderful Seamus Heaney poems which triggered her memory.
Coincidentally, I had known her many years before, when we attended the same
local writers’ group but she did not remember me. All the sessions were full of
rich and wonderful reminiscences about the rural childhoods of group members,
it was such a privilege to listen to all of them. I did suggest a Reminiscence
Project to the Centre Manager to record and print a book of such valuable
histories (not run by me!) but unfortunately the Irish Centre closed soon
afterwards. I still bump into some of the group members locally and we speak
fondly of the great time we all had.
Reading Aloud Group
It is “the slap, sough and hiss of Loch Neagh”
that suddenly rouse Moira and she sits up,
her eyes luminous with excitement:
‘Yes! It was like that,
we used to go there as children’.
For weeks her silence has been her presence,
only opening her eyes to receive copies
of the poems, extracts and short stories we share:
‘I recognise the names but
I can’t remember reading them’.
Years back I knew her but mine is one
more face from a life that’s slipped away,
along with her top ten best seller.
After the slap, sough and hiss of Loch Neagh
take and bring her back, the waters
and the words close behind her.