Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lets Hear it for the Girls

A minature at the Metropolitan

two lovers wind around each other
curved like countries on a globe.

The father and mother I'd come on
those mornings in each other's

arms, her braids undone, sprawled
on his freckled skin,

her gown turned inside out, silken
underside of vines

after their so fierce quarreling
all evening long. Such secrets pull

me to this man from Isfahan-
his hand moves

towards her breast, her cinnamon
robe splits for his arm-

Langorous Persian pleasure-and i'm allowed
to see-a man and a woman

loving, in a wilderness
of boughs made for endless ardor

Myra Shapiro.

I met Myra last April on Block Island, just off the U.S. East coast, minutes before i ran for the Ferry in a buffeting weather front. Born in the Bronx, she is a gentle firecracker of a lady-this comes from 'I'll See you Thursday' out now on Blue Sofa Press. Another Block Island gal is my friend Lisa Starr-the goddamn Poet Laureate of Rhode Island no less. Here's one from her:

Late August

And then there is the way
the Summer
tiptoes off one evening
just at dusk;
the fallen apples on the lane
speak to you of sadness,

Leaving you suprised
and cold again
as you remember lovers
who gently closed the door
then left

Ahh, my joy is living near my grief as you may tell from this selection. Something about Spring makes me long for poetry from Women: i feel if i see another beard i'll do something unexpected (best not look in the mirror then). Jane Hirshfield says;

In sorrow, pretend to be fearless. In happiness tremble.

Then Yeats (honory woman today) says

Cast a cold eye on life, on death.
Horseman, pass by.

Not one for pity was old W. B.

Knee deep, actually thats a lie, chest deep in the orginal text of Wolfram's Parzival, with side orders of the Troubadours, Minnizingers and Sufi's. Did you know it's a Celtic tradition to let out a strange, ecstatic bark of gurgling laughter when you see something that delights the Soul? I bet you can remember such an unexpected epiphany. Some of my favourite lines of poetry this decade are:

In the sweetness of the spring, words turn green
and the birds sing on, each in their own latin

It reminds me of that other morning, that sweet war we bought to an end,
and she gave me a gift so great, her faithful valley and her ring.

I want my God to let me live
to have my hands beneath her cloak

Guillaume IX de Poitiers.

Lets finish with Sharon Olds: 'Greed and Aggression'

Someone in Quaker meetings talks about greed and aggression
and i think of the way i lay the massive
weight of my body on you
like a tiger lying down in gluttony and pleasure on the elegant heavy body of the eland it eats,
the spiral horn pointing to the sky like heaven...

if i had a God it would renew itself the way
you live and live while you take me as if consuming me, it would
be a god of complete satiety,
greed and fullness, aggression and fullness, the
way we once drank at the body of an animal
until we were so happy we could only
faint, our mouths running, into sleep.

Sweet dreams x

Saturday, 14 March 2009



Just got the dates for the 25th aniversary of the Minnesota Mens Conference this September-8-13th 2009. Other teachers are still being confirmed but the news just in is that me, Danny Deardorff and Robert Bly himself will be telling the story of
IRON JOHN to mark this auspicious date. Robert hasn't told the story from the book that sold millions for 15 years-so anyone who would love to hear this life changing story hum in the air one more time should get their sweet behind over to the great lakes of Minnesota. This is a great thing to be happening-held up (as best we can) by three generations of storytellers.We will do it gunslinger style, side by side, eyes fixed on the mercurial spirit of the story.If we can get 20 men from the UK to come, i'm sure there is a discount to be had for this magical gathering (should be a 100).The websites not up yet, but i will keep you posted the moment that it is.
For the Women, check the dates below for the Great Mother Conference in May for an amazing mixed gathering. Cara is already discussing a mustached disguise for the September gathering,

It is a massive
masculine shadow,
fifty males sitting together in hall or crowded room,
lifting something indistinct
up into the resonating night.

Monday, 9 March 2009

THE WYRD AND THE WYLD: The Path of Destiny and The Soul of The World

The Tangled Shores of love

Well its blue skies today. Yesterday, as us at the School said our goodbyes round the fire with linked arms singing an old gospel tune, only seconds later the skies opened and a sheet of hail flew down. As we left the camp i think most of us felt an inner version of the changibility of the weather-the glow of shared community and challenge and the shock of leaving our imperfect nest for home. It was another magical weekend-tough in places, funny in others, tender at times. As usual it was my highlight to see the performances on the Saturday night-I will remember the turns and sweetness in Ronnies story for a long time, or Alexandras poem or Jonnys wild notes tearing off his guitar-in truth i was touched by every single one of you pirates, washed up on the tangled shores of Love.

Thank you to Chris for the story and the workshop-a good change of gear and the splendid feast from Jonny, William and David on the saturday night.
In May we gather at the Wildwood again in full spring bloom for 'Fiery Horses of the Tongue' for a whole weekend on the epic of Parzival-that's the Grail Story folks (or one of them). Before then please remember the Westcountry Storytelling Festival benefit on Sat 21st at Totnes Methodist Hall-Chris is doing 'the Art of Storytelling' workshop in the morning, i'm leading 'Ivan and the Grey Wolf'in the afternoon (a workshop on this amazing story-its maiden run) and the evening is big jamboree with Matt Harvey, storytelling, music and all kinds of things. Anyone who supports the Festival please join us-we still have a shortfall to settle from last summers magnificent foray. (workshops can be paid for individually if needed). The day is £27.50, individual workshop £12.00, one workshop and evening knees up £17.50.
Please ring Mo on 0788 196628 for tickets and spread the word!!!

Turtle Island.

To those readers from further afield, i will be up in Washington State in late May, for the Westcoast book launch and a workshop with my companion and brother Daniel Deardorff. We are leading 'THE WYRD AND THE WYLD: The Path of Destiny and the Soul of the World.If you are within 1000 miles and you love myth, music, poetry and nature then get to this one-we will be pulling no punches. May 23rd/May 24th-up in Port Townsend-several hours from Seattle.
I'm then over in Vermont offering closed Rites-of-Passage work to graduating students and then from May 30th to June 7th i'm at The Great Mother Conference in Maine with James Hillman, Coleman Barks, Robert Bly, Gioia Timpanelli, Caroline Casey and many more. Why not go mad and do a coast to coast road trip? rock'n'roll, Kerouac and all that great stuff. Carpe a Diem he croaked.


More soon, maybe even in a day or two.

PS- a few people have asked about my paintings-if you go to

www.martinshawpaintings.com some are there, and i have a new show in July.

M x

Monday, 2 March 2009

Robin Brings Muddy Radience

A dozen of us gathered for Robin Williamson at the weekend and a good 50 turned up the night before for his introductory evening of story. Robin was in great form (i've rarely seen him not) as he slowly layed connotation and speculation around the ancient Celtic image of 'The Four Cities of Instruction' and its relationship to seasons, ones life, musical notes and angelic beings that hover around them. Always playful, the depth of both his psychic relationship to it and his knowledge of history was dazzling.
We spent some time together on the friday drinking tea, laughing alot, swapping road stories and thrashing out Sufi relationships to Arthurian stories, the role of surrender in Leadership, experiences of faerie and the secret singing from where sounds become a Tree then an Eagle and then finally a Story. Feels like a future weekend workshop.....

'I have sold my mouth to the song
to hack after angelic language
in the written world
loving the two of magpies
and the authority of the weather
loving most what cannot be seen
or said at all'

R Williamson. So he did....

After last weeks defence of Excess as an invocation of spring, i now feel strangely drawn to the delicate, paired down verse of the Chinese. Here's one by Chang Chi:

The moon sets. A crow caws.
Frost fills the sky.
Maple leaves fall on the river.
The fisherman's fires keep me awake.
From beyond Su Chou
The midnight bell on Cold Mountain
Reaches as far as my little boat.

Night at Anchor by Maple Bridge

And Liu Ch'ang Ch'ing

Sunset. Blue peaks vanish in dusk.
Under the Winter stars
My lonely cabin is covered with snow.
I can hear dogs barking at the rustic gate.
Through snow and wind
Someone is coming home.

Snow on Lotus Mountain

I bet if you close your eyes you can locate that cabin, dog and wind somewhere in your body. Who is it coming home?

The Norwegian poet Olav Hauge had some of this sparse linguistic treasure too-check out 'The Dreams We Carry' (2008).

So this weekend, those on the year programme will make their way up to budding forest and open moorland in the old way; to wander, empty out and listen-and then in late afternoon return to the warmth and hearth of the village. Much of what happens out there is a subtle as the last two poems-a good way to spend an hour out there is to examine one square foot of earth, turning over and sifting through its complexities and visions.

I for one can't wait. See you up there.
M x