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Poet's Corner VI: January

Updated: Mar 17

with Audrey Ardern-Jones


Picture: Audrey's "beautiful" mother / Credit: Audrey Ardern-Jones


January 2022 brings a new year and Audrey Ardern-Jones choosing a new couplet of poems for the sixth episode of her Poet's Corner.


Audrey's poems were published in January 2021 by Peter Ualrig Kennedy in Anti-Covid 19 an online collection on Poetrywivenhoe. New poems in the collection are published in the Poems Today section of the site. The third collection of the Anti-Covid-19 New Poems Initiative, ‘The Last Hotel’, is now available with a Zoom launch planned on 27 January.


Audrey's poems centre on the first month of the year. January, a three-stanza poem, was inspired by Tchaikovsky's January At The Fireside: The Seasons.


All For Me on January 15th is a tale of Audrey's birth and a tribute to her mother and paternal grandmother, Audrey. You can read the poems and listen to Audrey read and discuss her choices below.


 

January (after Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons – January)


YouTube video: "January - At the Fireside" from Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" (Olga Scheps)


January (after Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons – January)


The first month

a honey cloud little steps little steps

tiptoes of high notes tiptoes of silences

come along come along come along

the winter breeze early morning freeze

light filtering streaking trickling


see the bare trees the way they stare

sway hold air leafless winged arms in

prayer see the lone songbirds feathers

on branches a grey-black sky waiting

for snow to fall for whiteness

red berries on bushes sunbursts of yellow

jasmine scampering hedgehogs shadows of

badgers a honey cloud little steps little steps

tiptoes of high notes tiptoes of silences

come along come along come along


by Audrey Ardern-Jones (in Anti-Covid 19 on poetrywivenhoe.org January 21, 2021)


 

All This For Me On January 15th


Picture: Audrey as a child in Zambia with her namesake "Granny Audrey"

/ Credit: Audrey Ardern-Jones


All This For Me On January 15th


My mother a Polish refugee,

having me her first baby -

me the baby the doctors advised

to abort – she an escapee with TB

in her right kidney; she who wanted

me to be more than herself,

who named me Audrey,

after my English grandmother,

a golden lady with white hair

and a heart of rose petals and hyacinths;

she who cared for me during

the long weeks of separation,

the months of isolation & recovery:

a baby that seemed to all a miracle.


by Audrey Ardern-Jones (in Anti-Covid 19 on poetrywivenhoe.org January 21, 2021)


 

Listen to Audrey


Gallery: Rex Hill in Disney's 1959 'The Peter Tchaikovsky Story' / Credit: D23.com; Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky as a young man / Credit: TCH16;

Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky in later life / Credit: Tretyakov Gallery


The first poem introduces "some lovely music" by Pyotr II'yich Tchaikovsky. The Seasons (Les Saisons) was composed by Tchaikovsky between December 1875 and May 1876, after the premiere of his First Piano Concerto and while completing Swan Lake, his first ballet.


The work is a set of twelve piano pieces characteristic of the months of the year in Russia. Troika (November) was a favourite encore of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff and Barcarolle (June) was also a popular arrangement.


Musical publisher Nikolay Bernard commissioned Tchaikovsky to write The Seasons (Времена года) for Nuvellist (Нувеллист), a Saint Petersburg journal. Structured as a piano cycle with '12 characteristic scenes' in monthly instalments. Bernard chose poetic epigraphs to accompany each musical month. Alexander Pushkin, Russia's "greatest poet" and "the founding father of the Russian language", wrote the epigraph for January (Janvier): At the Fireside (Au coin du feu).


A little corner of peaceful bliss,

the night dressed in twilight;

the little fire is dying in the fireplace,

and the candle has burned out.


Pushkin's writing inspired a number of Tchaikovsky's works. Audrey wrote January on a writing course, inspired by January - At the Fireside. Her other poem, All This for Me on January 15th, is a more personal work. Audrey tells us her "beautiful" mother moved to Palestine as a Polish Second World War refugee.


There she worked as an interpreter for the British army and met Audrey's father, an official in the British Mandate government. Audrey references her birth in England, moving to Zambia, her childhood in Africa and her closeness to her English grandmother, "a golden lady with white hair". You can listen to Audrey read her January poems by clicking on the link below.




 

A Poet with an Artist's Painterly Sensibility


Audrey Ardern-Jones at the summer 2021 unveiling of the Emily Wilding Davison Memorial in Epsom's market square where Audrey read her poem 'Tattenham Corner' about Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison's last moments / Credit: Audrey Ardern-Jones


“Ardern-Jones is a poet with an artist’s painterly sensibility, a musician’s fine ear, a nurse’s affinity for strangers and their plight. Poems for the ear, poems of language – Polish and Bemba, Portuguese and English. An intelligent, finely crafted poetry of curiosity and caring, of listening and loving, of humour and hope.” Paul Stephenson, an award winning poet and blogger, podcaster and co-curator of Poetry in Aldeburgh and teacher at the Poetry School, who interviews poets on their first collections.


Audrey Ardern-Jones spent her childhood in Africa (Lusaka, Zambia) where her English father and Polish mother were posted. She’s enjoyed a wonderful nursing career, specialising in cancer genetics. Audrey has always loved the Arts and founded The Poetry & Music Ensemble in 1984.


Her poems are widely published and have won prizes or been commended in international competitions. Currently, she is Artist in Residence at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and is an active supporter of poetry projects in her community of Epsom & Ewell.


Credit: Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd.


The publisher's link takes you to Doing The Rounds, Audrey's collection of poems. "This collection touches on the poet's childhood memories of living in Africa - her feelings of being in awe of so much and yet uncertain about many of the happenings. Most of her travel poems in India relate to incidents that have made her question herself - some of the poems about her Polish mother and her suffering post WW2 echo throughout the collection."


 

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