Gossipy writers group

11 Aug 2021

It’s been a long time since our writers’ group has met in person. We’ve done our best to keep it going by ‘Zoom’ but it’s not the same. In fact, it is so much not the same that psychologists are piling in to say why it isn’t.

It’s because when we meet in person we pick up and process huge amounts of information about what that person is feeling and react accordingly. Zoom is exhausting because we’re trying to build those models with only a little information.

So it’s wonderful to actually meet together, even if we are carefully socially distanced and outside in the garden. Towards the end of our recent meeting, Fiona said that she would like to read a poem that was a special favourite of hers: ‘House’ by Kathleen Raine.

We’re quite gossipy at writers’ group so a bit of inside info on a famous poet is well within the remit of our erudite discussions. Well. It turns out that Kathleen Raine was head over heels in love with Gavin Maxwell, who was the man who wrote ‘Ring of Bright Water’. But the love was unrequited for various reasons, which we spent a few moments discussing as they are rather sad and a big effect on both their lives.

As a child I remember going to the cinema to watch the film ‘Ring of Bright Water’ and weeping copiously in the dramatic otter scene, trying to hide my tears from my friend sitting next to me. It was a deeply etched childhood emotional experience carried through into adult life, so I wanted to learn more about Kathleen Raine and ordered a book of her ‘Collected Poems’.

I searched the book in vain for Fiona’s favourite poem; and then in the introduction, which was written by Kathleen Raine herself, I found this: “Poems that I have no hesitation in omitting … are those written in a voice of insincere religiosity. Love poems of a personal nature are also gone…”. Obviously the one that Fiona liked so much, ‘Home’, was one of those omitted.

I often bite my tongue, or stay my pen, when I’m about to say or write something that I think might be construed as being trite, not clever or too revealing of my emotions. It might be better to come out with it so that people know what I’m really thinking, and it might chime with their feelings too.

But we often forget that when we meet in person, we are picking up those emotions and feelings. We’re all chiming like bells when we interact socially, we’re looking and listening while we interact so we can interpret those unwritten lines of a personal nature.

Have you been able to get back to meeting people socially again?

Rowan on the moor

A Moodscope member.

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