Reflections/poem biography for Journey of the Fruit
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“silver spoons glinting on porcelain,
beside thin cuts of lemon drizzle.”

Artists have the fruit-bowl to study still life. As a poet who suffers from depression, I often feel I have life to study for stillness. But physics tells me that nothing we actually experience is still; all molecules, atoms and their tinier composition parts are vibrating or in motion. Stillness is very much an emotional experience that comes from the mind.

Life is a journey; the growth of seed to fruit and of fruit to fruit bowl are two more, different, kinds of journey.

Writing ‘Journey of the Fruit’ started from a point of observation. Like the fruit in the orangery observed at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire, the poem’s growth was not entirely natural but fertilised by the time restraints of being part of a summer project organised by Droitwich Arts Network with the National Trust. Following a day-visit to the hall, I had somewhere between two weeks and a month to produce my poem, though it has been tweaked since.

From artists’ fruit bowls to Eve eating from the tree of knowledge, there is, or has become, something inherently symbolic in the creative’s gaze when it comes to fruit. My own contemplations started with what I could actually see, and the immediate metaphor that evoked for me – trees huddled in the orangery, as tiny nursery-school children might huddle around their teacher. But, almost as long as I have been a writer, I have felt the danger or fear of writing about what may be automatically dismissed as ‘women’s things’. In short, I didn’t want to go down a route focussing on children.

Instead, I whittled and whittled the actual physical description to see what other metaphors would emerge. The one green lemon that was just tipping towards yellow was particularly noticeable. Focussing on this brought in both the notion of how far away from their natural home these plants were, and the contrast between Britain’s cold climate and their more exotic origins. It also made me think of the various uses of ‘lemon’ as a slang term, in particular for a lesbian. The elements of class and servants still existing today in the shadows came fairly late in the drafting process, inspired by a suggestion by poet-friend, Ruth Stacey. History is history, but traces of its effects can often still be seen around us, when we look closely.

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Discussion Points

1) What features literally in the poem and what is used here as an analogy or symbol for something else?

2) Where does the poem’s focus change from fruit to people and history? Is this a gradual or sudden turning point – and what effect does that create for you as a reader?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Write a line /phrase describing something you’d like to change. This is the start of your poem/story. Next, write a line/phrase describing how things would be if this did change. That is the end of your poem/story. Now write the rest of the poem/story – the journey – that takes place in between/might be required to bring about that change.

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.