Since autumn of last year I have been unwell with chronic fatigue and have spent the majority of my time housebound. For someone who spent most of her days doing a hundred and one things (and now I realise a hundred too many) this has been a huge period of adjustment and not one I welcomed. As a writer and a photographer my creative expression has often given me stability in more fragile times. For the first few months of my illness I had little mental stamina and also suffered from 'brain fog'. My usual refuge of both writing and reading poetry was not available to me. I felt like I was stranded on a life raft with no sign of land. I finally had to learn to acquaint myself with stillness and silence. Previously my life had all been about movement and the constant preoccupation that I was not going fast enough. My fatigue put an emergency stop to all my frantic activity. In quieter moments I am grateful for this opportunity to stop and experience what being without doing actually feels like. Other times it is a hellish struggle and I mourn for the pleasure of being busy that, what is now, 'my old life' offered.
On better days I am able to pick up my camera and go in to the garden, or on short local walks. I have found the sublime beauty in repetition, something that I would have never encountered before. I have also began to enjoy getting really close to my subject matter, whether it be a dry twig in winther months or a brass hinge on the garden door. These forgotten details seem to say something about my current emotional and physical state. There is something very meditative about re-visiting the same subject matter and finding new ways to look at the familiar. I am learning that even when there appears to be no movement or change there is still transformation.
As the weeks passed I realised that I had created a portfolio of images on a theme. As any good hairdresser will tell you there is nothing like a good pun and so I entitled this portfolio 'Still Life'. I also worked with photographer and film-maker Craig Thomas on a short film containing a selection of these images. It was not long after I assembled the images in one place that I decided to invite some high calibre poets to respond to the images for a project called 'Picture This'.
The first poet to be featured is the inexhaustibly talented Aisling Fahey. Aisling has a way of telling the truth that breaks through the isolation of pain. I am honoured to have her take part.
Lock Perhaps you know where you are going, always have. Sceptics who call you lost don’t know that the ground is a map underneath your searching feet you will find your way.
Or perhaps this was all rushed - you left without a coat, keys in a heap on the floor, light catching dust particles through the slit in the curtain.
That is what makes me worry, that your compass is now a cross and you carry new destinations on your back like lead weight. You try to plan a route home, but the gravel gets caught underneath the heel of your shoe.