Artwork by Saoirse Cruise
Iddu (Him) is the nickname given by the locals to the volcano in the island of Stromboli, Italy. Its living presence inspires awe and has such a powerful effect on the imagination that regularly, every time we run a visual art course in Stromboli, many participants feel the urge to write poems about it. It is a special occurrence demonstrated by the fact that poetry-writing doesn’t happen in the other locations where we run courses.
To spend some time on the slope of a live volcano is indeed an experience you don’t easily forget so I wasn’t surprised when a few days ago in reading the book Alchemy by C. G. Jung’s long-time friend and co-worker Marie-Louise von Franz, I came across this passage:
“An experience of the Divine is often of an overwhelming power, but to which one has to adapt, as one has to adapt to a manifestation in nature such as the eruption of a volcano. That is a beautiful sight, but one must not get too near, and it is impossible to relate to it. You can look at it, but it is something which you never forget. Emotionally it does something to one, but it would need a poet to describe it.”
Red, blue, brown,
Fermented orange green
Dead prickly pears underfoot
Ripe prickly pears drooping pregnant from overhead
Unfamiliar sulphur tang hanging in the air
Rumbles deep underground
Fire from the core of the earth
Iddu sighs smoke
tossing stones downhill
Acceptance rolls over me with the all
Slanted light reflecting on whitewashed walls
knife cutting sharp striking
on rounded pillars
folding into the sky
white stepping stones
towards the sea
Four swift footsteps
I am a giant
An expanse of pure blue sky and water
A chain of Pyramids shimmering in the distance
Wings spread gliding towards the light
I am a bird
Peace has just descended upon me
By Denise O’Brien
Artwork by Denise O’Brien
DEATH BY VOLCANO
Last night I dreamt I had accepted death. “There is nothing we can do about our fate”, She said, in a calming hushed voice.
I’m sitting by the beast, on the beast!
Iddu can swallow me whole and smother me in fiery breath.
Burning my skin like the scarred landscape on it’s belly.
Yet I’m not afraid, I stand strong and brave.
As I sit by the prickly pears, I share their trust in him.
Like and old friend, he nurtures us both.
By Saoirse Cruise
Artwork by John Kavanagh
Inward, a meditation on the senses
A physical world – living- ripening-decaying
As I open
the sensual joy of flowing
Il dolce fare niente
To feel the heat, releasing pressure –
plumes rise in me
Diving deep into the crystal splash of the flowing current
As I flow
of salt-water turquoise, white and green
Fall darkness now obscured shadows from floor
The rich blacks of a nightscape veiled sweet in
Pitch darkness of my mountain, stands.
Mapping my landscape with armies of cactus forms
Wild protection shapes my rugged home
Recovering from a twilight winter running
Headfilled and abstract
Another world now – distant in shade
A life of colour – seeing through the senses
Even the eye wants its part*
Speaking in forgotten bursts of reds, golds and blues
Trusting old words of song-filled flavour
Urgently thrust into sound, sight, texture and taste
Once forgotten – now refelt
Im an upcycled soul of reformed joy
Today my fire embers – buzzing into droning chorus
Of rockfall clatters and threats of power
My ceaseless dance of shadow and light
My volcano – a dangerous comfort
A fertile soil for my island
I stand in stoic contemplation in a sea of turbulent change
* anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte – italian saying; great food is also a visual sensation
By John Kavanagh