In this post Creative Programmes Manager Kate Duncan reflects on a day of poetry workshops lead by Panya Banjoko, during Paa Joe’s residency at Clumber Park.  Also, read poems produced by the public in the workshops.

Workshops took place in the City Arts’ Dome on 18th May … it was a grey sort of a day but in spite of that Clumber was buzzing with activity. People slowly trickled through the door to see what all the noises were about. People were intrigued watching Paa Joe and his son  Jacob making a grand lion, emerging from the sweet smelling pine. Lion parts were scattered about the Dome, a majestic head, sculptured tail, legs and the beginnings of a Lion’s mane, defining the Lion as the King of the cats. The Lion is Paa Joe’s signature piece, bringing a bit of Ghanaian culture to Clumber Park.

Panya Banjoko worked alongside Paa Joe, inspiring people to write their own poetry about the majestic Lion, or perhaps more thought provokingly, a message to a lost loved one. We had some interesting conversations with visitors that day, children gasping in disbelief when they found out that it was a coffin that sat before them.  Considered discussions took place, thoughts about people’s final resting place, how they would like to be seen by others and what might happen. Another significant conversation arose with a health professional who worked for Douglas Macmillan Hospice. We spoke about Death and Dying, an unexpected topic for a rainy Saturday afternoon, but that is the point. The residency has evoked different reactions and feelings in people, art does that, it opens up unexpected doorways for dialogue and perhaps the ability to address subjects that don’t regularly feature in everyday life, or are taboo. Further conversations turned to different cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs and the sense that in different countries, death is viewed in alternative ways to our Western approach.

The arts have given time for people to pause during their day, sometimes inducing memories and feelings of sadness for lost loved ones, however on reflection this is a good mechanism for not forgetting about important things in life and delicate subjects. Death is a part of our life.

Participant Poems

Lions make a mighty roar!
Injured calling for help,
Outrageously no one comes to help him,
Now he finally gets some help.

Ellie Wall- Age 11- In memory of baby Joel

Lemon the lion was mostly loved,
In the jungle he searches for prey,
On the tree he has a scratch and screech,
Nobody knew what he was capable of.

Emily and Millie- Aged 9

Lion is sadly trying to catch the deer,
In the bushes Lion is proudly catching prey,
Outside the Lion cubs have been fed,
Now the sun has risen,
Lion cubs are happily being born.

Harriet Emsley- Aged 11

Leo the lion had an amazing mane,
That became a mess when he went in the rain,
This would send him completely insane,
Because he was a lion that was completely vain.

Rebecca Joyce- Aged 35

I love you loads,
I will be thinking of you every day,
That god given me.

Mrs M Parkes

Lion is happily sleeping,
In the dirty caravan,
On the smelly cabinet,
Near the stinky toilet.

Izzy Lees- Aged 8

I like motocross,
My coffin will have KTM on it!

Jade- Aged 7

Always think of you with every breath I breathe,
Believing you are happy where you are,
Although you can’t be here on my special days,
Hope you always have me in your heart.

ABAH- Dad in Malay

Likes the sun,
In tall grass,
Edging its prey,
Now it pounces.

Melissa- Aged 7

Lions being naughty,
Ice cold heart,
Oh no,
Naughtiest never pays.

Abigail- Aged 10

Lion sleeping,
Inside the cave,
On the stone,
Nicely snoring.

Kate Montgomery- Aged 6

Lion are you really so fierce?
Inside are you really so proud and cruel,
Or have you also got fears,
Maybe nobody realises you’re vulnerable too.

Unknown

Lions roar as fiercely as crashing waves bouncing in and out of the shore,
Incredible teeth as sharp as knives,
Only he is the king of the jungle,
Night falls as he sleeps.

Lucy Cartlidge

Rhubarb and ruin,
A cotton and a lion,
Ghana to workshop,
An un English summer,
And all the better for it.

Unknown

From where I stand I see the lions head,
A work in progress,
Resting on the ground,
Its great nostrils breath on me

Unknown