October reminds me that the annual Poetry On The Lake festival will be taking place shortly at beautiful Lake Orta in northern Italy. The festival was founded in 2001 by poet, Gabriel Griffin, and has as its Patron the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who described it as
‘ ... perhaps the smallest but possibly the most perfect poetry festival in the world”.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to attend the events there with my wife, the writer, Jane Mosse, and took part in an outdoor poetry reading on the wooded hill at Sacro Monte along with a number of acclaimed British and Italian poets, including the Poet Laureate herself.
This poem, Suitcases, is one that I read on that occasion.
Crouching in attic gloom,
where skylight beams
illuminate their pool of silver dust,
old leather suitcases doze like alligators
dreaming their prehistoric dreams.
They sleep soundly having eaten up my father’s life ...
the photographs, the hearing aid and collar studs,
the safety razor with its rusted blade,
the letters and the wallet with the ticket stubs
... yet I am so afraid
that when I kneel beneath the skylight
to prise apart those sagging, alligator jaws,
the life that I will find compressed within
will be too small to match
my memories of him.
You can find out more about the Poetry On The Lake festival at www.poetryonthelake.org/