Tuesday 5 May 2015

Mixed Borders (1): Poet In a Garden

Alhambra gardens, Granada, Spain. Photo by Clarissa Aykroyd

I'm very pleased to say that I will be taking part in Mixed Borders, a collaboration between the Poetry School and the London Parks and Gardens Trust, where a number of the gardens taking part in the London Open Garden Squares weekend (13-14 June 2015) will be hosting poets-in-residence. You can read more about the scheme in this blog post from the Poetry School.

I've been assigned the Red Cross Garden in Southwark for my residency, which has a great depth of Victorian and social history, and just looks to be a lovely little garden in a fascinating area - I am about to go and visit it for the first time.

What will I actually be doing for my residency? Writing poetry, of course. Our opening workshop included some exercises which proved fruitful, and various inchoate garden-poem ideas are circling in my head already. I'd like to explore different angles, such as the history, the associated people (particularly the founder Octavia Hill, also one of the National Trust founders), and the interaction with the Southwark area. Botany is far, far from being an area of expertise for me, but I want to have a look, at least. On the weekend itself I should be in the garden for at least a few hours on one or both days - watch this space. I might read, I might hand out poems, I might just sit there looking moody and trying to write. All shall be revealed in time (when I figure it out.) In a somewhat-related way, I might even get back to those translations from French of Rilke's 'Rose' poems which I've been neglecting so badly.

And obviously, I have been reading poetry of the garden, including selections from Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse, edited by Sarah Maguire, who herself worked as a gardener for some years.

Further blog posts should follow soon - about the garden, the poetry and more...

Here are a couple of garden poems worth reading, from either side of the pond, by Sarah Maguire (Britain) and Louise Glück (US).

ROSEMARY (Sarah Maguire)

THE SILVER LILY (Louise Glück)


  1. You should be bragging more about what you do, Clarissa. You're too modest! Amazing news, by the way. Enjoy the garden. Sending love from Toronto.

    1. Thanks so much, Natalya! It'll be great experience. You know us Canadians - so modest. ;) I hope you're loving being back in T.O.