Being grateful for the gift of a poem:
To celebrate our connection with the Romantic poet Lord Byron – who’s buried in his family’s vault in our Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene – our town is hosting the Byron Busk mini festival.
With art, music and of course, poetry, I was feeling well enough to check it out and took a gentle walk down into my town centre.
I was looking forward to seeking out The Poetry Takeaway, described as a place where: “The poet chefs will write, perform and personalise a poem for you to wrap and take away for free.”
After weaving through our town’s Friday market, I found ‘the world’s first purpose-built mobile poetry emporium’ already in full creative flow.
During the short wait, I chatted with Michael Bolger, the creative brainpower behind The Poetry Takeaway. He described how the burger-turned-poetry van travels all around the country, its talented poets and performers gifting poetry at festivals and private functions.
I was soon paired with the effervescent Michelle Madsen. I didn’t know this at the time – only discovering her impressive credentials on her website afterwards – that Michelle has been performing her poetry around the UK and the world for almost a decade. She’s founder and host of London’s Hammer and Tongue which is part of the UK’s slam poetry network. Oh and she’s also published a selection of her poems in a book. I was in very safe hands 🙂
I decided to ask her to write a poem for my lovely mum, who was at that very moment at the hospital bedside of her younger sister, who passed away only a few hours later.
I wanted it to be a gift for my mum, to bring her some comfort during this sad time, and to remind her how much she is loved and appreciated.
I was expecting to be asked a little about my mum, but not the in-depth questions about her life, loves and passions. Covering all things like her favourite colours, season, flowers, her sense of style, what makes her laugh, her music of choice, her ideal day out, and oodles more.
I have to confess the questions I most enjoyed were those that were deliciously thought-provoking on how to describe her laugh, what season she most resembles, her outlook on life, her presence.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our 15-20 minutes chat, it was really wonderful to think about my mum in this way.
But I have to admit I was pretty wiped out afterwards! My CFS induced brain fog protested after so much hard thinking!!
As Michelle set to work, I was asked to return in 30 minutes so I nipped into our library. I wanted to spread a little kindness and also find a quiet corner so I could meditate and recharge a little energy.
Eager to hear the poem, I couldn’t wait to return to the creative hub.
And it definitely didn’t disappoint.
As Michelle performed her poem to me – which I really wish I’d recorded as it sounded sooooo much better when she read it out loud – I rollercoastered through emotions of delight, tears, joy, laughter, surprise, happiness and “oh no, mum’s going to kill me for telling you that” fear!
Seriously though, I absolutely love it.
This truly is the perfect poem for my lovely mum and demonstrates just how well Michelle had taken the time and the effort to get to know her through me.
And I couldn’t resist giving her a big hug as she finished.
Here’s the poem:
Chris, let’s make this YOUR day (as they all should be!)
And with garlands of lilacs and pinks around your neck
We’ll day trip to Whitby! And maybe Tahiti!
And write in pearls in the sand, YOU ARE LOVED!
That your kindness is spread as thick as strawberry jam
sandwiched between two freshly baked sponge cakes
Their round vanilla scent tickling bellies,
sustaining even those that can’t bite into their sweet riches
BUT FIRST! Our outfits must impress
To Debenhams – Nottingham’s magnetic fashion superstore
And from racks of lovingly stitched cotton and floaty lines
you’ll be dressed fresh as the summer breeze that you are.
Home-maker, lady magician of the kitchen,
Crafting joy from ordinary things, laughing out Mama Mia hits
Smile bigger than Ronan Keating’s bank balance
as you hide clothes pegs under fern leaves
Hucknall’s queen of generosity
Let’s make every day one for you
Best friend, best mum, best you
When I gave mum the poem, it brought tears to her eyes too. She really loves it and continues to thank me for this beautifully unique gift of words.
Thank you so much to Michael, Michelle and all at The Poetry Takeaway – you gave us the gift of a smile during such a sad time, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Now, this is not intended to spoil this lovely tribute, but I feel inspired to write a little ditty of my own (apologies if anyone from the poetry world is reading this… you might want to look away now!).
Ok, here goes…
My Ode to The Poetry Takeaway
Oh Poetry Takeaway in a lovely van
created by one very clever man
My poet was the lovely Michelle
and I instantly gelled with this effervescent belle
I wanted a poem to cheer up my mum
unlike chocolates or flowers, this gift she could hum
To make her smile whenever she felt blue
a gift that says: ”Mum, I really love you”
Michelle asked me questions about my mum
all kinds of things that made my brain go numb
Mum’s life, loves and passions, her ideal day out
she got to know her well, of that there’s no doubt
The finished poem Michelle performed out loud
I enjoyed it so much, I really was wowed
My mum loved it too, it bought tears to her eyes
this gift from The Poetry Takeaway, the perfect surprise