Category Archives: linking


…Explain how poetry
pursues the human like the smitten moon
above the weeping, laughing earth; how we
make prayers of it…

Interesting spat going on at the moment – an exam board took one of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems off the syllabus because it might encourage violence. The quote above comes from the poem she wrote in response.

I’ve always enjoyed her work hugely, and I love this particular phrase, which says so much about what poetry is, and can be!


A kaleidoscope of images

I’ve just come across an amazing website which has a colour- and shape-based search engine for photos. It’s called the Visual Search Lab, and is by Idee labs. If you’re at all interested in colours, go over and enjoy a photo safari! One tool uses flickr photos, so it might be a perfect way of finding a photo for that blogpost!

And when you’re done there, you might like to look at the Colour and Design Blog, where I heard about the visual search lab.

Then go and sit down quietly in a darkened room and dream of colours!

Maiden Voyage

Saturday saw the first voyage of the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. Despite the name, they’re more inspiring than nasty, and while elitist, are elitist in a very inclusive way. They refuse to accept dumbing down, and proclaim the virtues of intelligence, curiosity and expertise in a most inspiring way.

Definitely worth checking out…

(Happy to say that I was a member of the crew – “Playing Small doesn’t help the world“.)

Dance like there’s no-one watching…


Couldn’t resist posting this image of Calvin and Hobbes – I just love how it captures the sheer bliss of being utterly immersed in music and dance! Being able to be this spontaneous and unselfconscious is such a gift…

Click here to see the whole cartoon and more like it at

Learning from low times

There’s an article on the BBC website at the moment called “Is depression good for you?” about how some people have come out of periods of lowness and depression to a much stronger state. (Emphasis on some people is important here!) Given my own experience of emerging much stronger and more secure from a low period which briefly skirted mild depression, this makes a lot of sense for me.

The article makes some interesting comments on how depressin is dealt with in different cultures:

“Depression can be traced all the way back to the Stone Age, say Dr Keedwell, when close-knit communities of about 50 people would have identified it quickly. The rest of the group would have rallied round and changes followed, such as a new role for the individual… The Banda tribe in Uganda calls it “illness of thought” and those affected are allowed time out from the group, a concession not extended to many with the condition in the UK.

I think there are many aspects of modern Western society that are conducive to depression – it’s no wonder so many people seem to get it nowadays. Not much exercise, distance from friends and family, pressure at work, the overabundance of choice, the stigma that is still attached to any form of mental illness, and the feeling that you should just “pull yourself together”.

There’s a lot of pressure to have it all, to be a superman/woman who never has moments of doubt or weakness. But that’s so unrealistic.

Sometimes stopping and reexaming what matters to you is painful – but from my own experience it is definitely worth it when the clouds start to lift!

More songs to heal a broken heart?

Anyone know some good songs to encourage and console people who are feeling broken-hearted?

I’ve noticed that several people are arriving at my blog by googling various phrases that appear in my post “Songs to heal a broken heart“. So clearly I wasn’t the only one looking for songs about love that give an encouraging message to people whose love lives have fallen apart.

Music is so powerful – sometimes sad music that expresses all the agony of heartbreak is what we need, but I quickly found that if I only listened to that sort of music, it made me feel worse rather than better. So I started looking out for music that gives a more positive message – that it is possible to survive the loss of love, to rebuild your life either happily alone or with someone new. Songs that talk about regaining your strength, of putting yourself and your life back together!

I’d love to collect some more songs about healing the wounds of lost love – it would be a lovely theme for a concert or a CD! (talk about making lemonade when life gives you lemons!)

So please leave a comment with your favourite medicine for the heartsick!

To get you started, here’s one of my favourites – Pink Martini’s Hang on Little Tomato – with a lovely slideshow that someone posted on youtube:

Songs to heal a broken heart


I’ve been looking for songs about healing a broken heart, and as I said a few posts ago, I’ve asked a few singing groups for repertoire suggestions.

In this way I came across an amazing song cycle by Maury Yeston called December songs, essentially the journey of a woman recovering from a breakup. It’s fascinating because it is based on some Schubert song cycles (Winterreise and Schone Mullerin) that are profoundly sad, and portray hopeless despair at the loss of love. But in the Yeston cycle, the heroine seems to find consolation and recovery – the last song is called “What a relief”!

I’ve ordered a CD and the sheet music and am waiting for the deliveries to arrive – in the meantime I found a few MP3 files, one of which, By the river, is currently haunting me, in a consoling sort of way. Here’s the refrain (as far as I can make out the words):

People will be born, people will die
As before you were born and long after you
Young ones will find love and will fight, and hand will find hand
We will flow on and on, on and on
River calling, “Come join my journey
I will ease your burden, I will be your rest
River calling, “Call me, my lover,
I will bring you freedom, flow along with me to the sea!”

It’s strange, because this song is in some ways similar to the last songs of Die Schone Mullerin, Der Müller und der Bach and Des Baches Wiegenlied where the protagonist ends up so desolate that the only place he can find rest is the crystal blue depths of the river i.e. through drowning himself… That’s one interpretation of the words of the Yeston song too, but somehow the Yeston song feels more about staying alive and immersing yourself in the flow of life, with all its ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs.

The Schubert songs are incredibly beautiful, and I have loved them for years. But right now the mood of the Yeston cycle is what I am drawn to. It somehow speaks to the “when life hand you lemons, make lemonade” space I am in now about the breakup.

There are moments now when I am as happy as I was in the first days of falling in love, not just alive and interested in my life, but also exhilaratingly aware of my own strength and worth and lovableness. The dawn is so beautiful after a difficult night!

Can’t wait for the music to arrive.