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LLANWRTYD EISTEDDFOD 2018 – waste gwastraff
This was my submission for this year’s local eisteddfod, that happened just yesterday night. Good to take part in a celebration of art that has its origins so long ago in the 11th century, even though I am not (yet) able to submit pieces in the Welsh language. There are so many pressures these days distracting people from coming together as communities to appreciate each others’ talents. The Eistedddfodau are truly the jewel of Welsh cultural community. Categories range from set pieces in music, recitation, poetry and song to personal choices and works on given themes, as this was. Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod lasts all day, with children performing in the morning, youngsters in the afternoon and adults in the evening. We left about half eleven at night and it was still going! Each local eisteddfod is an opportunity for those who are aiming to enter the prestigious National Welsh Eisteddfod, to get sufficient adjudication and placements to go forward into the finals – so even in the smallest eisteddfods one can see really top quality performances, as well as locals having a go. Getting well respected adjudicators is a key element in attracting the best performers to a local eistedddfod. At all the eisteddfoddau I have seen, the adjudicators are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful in their comments – a true encouragement to creativity.

I have pared away the warm, waiting wood.
The ring of it: the blade pulled,
The curling lucent layers dropped, shuddered to floor.
The shape changing, the deep cut,
The curving line, the scent within the grain
And the borrowed light upon its smoothness.

To make a bowl slowly by hand
Is to contemplate emptiness
And the arc and sorrow and gravity of it all
As the thin curls scatter.

Not much of anything is needed, after all,
If all and all moves toward a single, singular point.
The rest, remains, resting pointless,
Discarded, unfulfilled, as debris.
Becoming something else, but not a worthy thing.
A means to an end, chaff and dross, lees and leftovers,
Swept and piled to make a kindling for a winter’s fire.

On the seventh day
Was there a pile of junk,
The unmade becoming unmanageable,
The chosen and the unchosen,
The first inkling of heaven and hell?

Where went the scraps?
The unwanted edges, the unfinished lines,
The swirling, sanded away interstellar dust?
Perfection is nothing but a stubborn tyranny,
A piling up of discarded beauty, disregarded,
For a dream, the hope of something that is not yet, not yet.

And this life now, whittled away,
Hollowed out a little more by each breath:
Less remains now, for certain, than what has gone by.
If there is an end, not just a turn in the road,
What shall remain of this slow work, day to day?
What of the careful polished surface, the tidy edge,
The slow shaping, the muscles’ rhythmic ache?

Careful or careless, we blind ourselves with dutiful goals,
Discard what seems unnecessary, untimely, unhelpful.
To make something to hold us safe in eternity
We scrape away the real, carve away the grain,
Slicing through the beating heart of things
To find the food that will feed our deepest hunger.

As a vessel for your grace, or as a begging bowl,
We are slowly emptied out, as a waning moon
Over a restless ocean.
Three drops were all that was required,
All else became poison.

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Thought of sharing this as the quality is superlative, not just the materials, or the design, or the calligraphy, or the words, but the whole damn caboodle!

the finished pieces.

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