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A Chaos of Delight

January 4, 2015

A Chaos of Delight is the first poem in the second part of my sanctuary series.
The title is a quote from Charles Darwin’s impression of New Zealand when he stopped off for 9 days at the Bay of Islands in December 1835.
The poem imagines how the island might have appeared to Marco Polo if he had visited it and reported back to Kublai Khan as in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (Vintage Classics: 1997)

In GODZONE time turns inside out,
days darker than night
absorb a chaos of delight.

Men in red feather cloaks
sway from ropes in giant trees,
digest roots, shoots and leaves.

Birds burrow on the ground,
lay eggs with a hairy husk,
chorus into life at dusk.

Seasons cycle in reverse,
sun sets in the West,
moon rises in the East,

everything is back to front,
upside down,
the wrong way round.

‘Godzone’ is a nickname for New Zealand which is referred to as ‘God’s own country’ just as Yorkshire in England is often called ‘God’s own county.’
I have placed GODZONE in capitals as this is the style used for the imaginary places described in Invisible Cities, a recommended text for architects as well as budding writers.
A fun exercise for you to do with your writers group is as follows:
* Write the name of a place (real or imaginary) on the top of a blank sheet of A4.
* Fold the page so that the name cannot be seen and pass it on to the next member of the group
* Write a brief description about the sights that can be seen there.
* Fold the page again to hide the writing and pass it on.
* Repeat this process until you have covered how the place smells, sounds, tastes and feels.
* Add a final few words to sum up your first impression
* Unfold each sheet and invite each member to create an oral description of the place based on the notes written on the page
You will be surprised at the outcome!
The oral descriptions can be extended into a stimulus for creative writing.
I would be glad to hear how you get on if you decide to try it.

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