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Elizabeth’s Story: Poems in my diary Wednesday, 10 February 2010

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I carry my poems in my handmade diary, printed on brown kraft paper, typed in different fonts.  Some are ‘The Path Less Taken’ and ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost, ‘Jabberwocky’ (like Brian Taylor), ‘Ode’ by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, ‘I Am’ by John Clare, and Kathleen Jamie’s ‘Queen of Sheba’ because I live in Currie and did travel on the Brownie’s borrowed truck.

My mother used to read Browning and Brooke to me when I was little, in Lincolnshire, and I was taught a lot of poetry at High School but I wish I could remember more complete poems.

Colin’s stories Monday, 25 January 2010

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I carry a lot of poetry in my head – it’s the safest place to have it. If I had it in my wallet, I might be robbed; if it was in my pocket I might forget to take it out, and it could end up in the washing machine (like my hearing aid did recently).

Fragments of much-loved poems somehow stay intact and distinct in my memory. At any given moment I can recall them, and they each bring something special back into focus. Dipping and scooping, I retrieve Wallace Stevens’ ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird’, Norman MacCaig’s ‘A Man in Assynt’, William Blake’s ‘The Sick Rose’, T S Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’, William Carlos Williams’ ‘Flowers By the Sea’, Dylan Thomas’s ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’, Paul Celan’s ‘Death Fugue’, and many more.

But the one which comes to mind more than most is Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’. It’s a poem I’ve often read in workshops, and it seems to touch other people too. So I love for that reason. But it’s more for the personal relevance the poem has for me. So many times in my elongating life I’ve had to make choices – we all do – and Frost sets out the dilemma beautifully. Faced with two routes in life I’ve often taken “the one less travelled by”, and my life has been made immeasurably richer.

Colin Will is a poet, publisher, teacher and blogger.

Renée’s Story: ‘Kubla Khan’ & ‘Stopping By Woods’ Friday, 15 January 2010

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An English teacher at high school once said ‘you should always be able to recite at least one poem – it will surely get you out of a pickle one day’ and thereafter i committed Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ to memory. Sure enough, it is often in a curious, long, or lonely moment that i find myself reciting it.

In my purse I carry a copy of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ – lacking the ability to commit its fantastical lines to memory, the wee folded up note, with its size 6 font provides swift escapism for the same moments mentioned above.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

Sophia’s story: ‘A Line-Storm Song’ Friday, 8 January 2010

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I found this poem in a book of Robert Frost’s poems in about 1994. I loved it immediately because it’s about celebrating the elements – I’m one of those people who has to go outside and meet the weather.

Sophie Dale is a writer, artist and singer from Australia who currently lives on North Uist. She always has music in her head and says ‘that’s how some poems end up… turning into songs.’

Pauline’s story: ‘The Road Not Taken’ Friday, 8 January 2010

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This poems reminds me that life is not a rehearsal. When I first read it, I was shocked to find how much I wished I had taken the other road, with hindsight, with age, but I would be going back to that road with the knowledge that the road I’ve chosen has given me. As it happens, in one way I did get back to it because now I am writing and performing my poems, which years ago I neglected when choosing the other road.

Pauline Prior-Pitt is a poet and performer who lives on North Uist. She is currently the Poet partner for the Scottish Poetry Library’s Benbecula partner post. She moved to North Uist eleven years ago for a late adventure beside the sea. She is the Scottish Poetry Library’s poet of the month for January 2010.