poetry space workshop nine

Colours are an unavoidable part of life for most of us and can have both good and bad memories or associations attached.

Try a colour of your life poem. You could choose a particular period of your life or let the colours give a glimpse of life’s stages from young child to adult. Try to give voice to the good as well as the bad associations. You can use one colour all the way through or use a range of colours. It’s a great way to explore memories.

Here’s my example for Red. I have used a simple list form and captured a series of memories over a time scale of about six years from aged five to aged eleven.



Telling it in Red


plump tomatoes for force feeding,

cherry bunched pigtail ties,

swollen tonsils,

sweet and dark pie filling,

potted geraniums on whitewashed

stone, within the sea’s pull,

a short-ribbed top,

too old for me lipstick

a faded rose sewn, on denim jeans,

Dad’s temper,

ugly picked scabs

a child leaking woman’s blood.



For a more sophisticated approach check out this poem out too. It’s by Marge Piercy and is called Colours passing through us



The deadline for the above workshop was 16th April.

Here are the poems that came in:




A watercolour in blue and green

Blended shades flow: soft, serene

It needs a red, red rose

Maybe a field of poppies

A few dabs of cadmium red and Alizarin crimson

A few stabs of brown, yellow ochre and viridian

Viscid oily pigments

run in dribbles

Mixed mediums

Burnt Sienna and black shrivels

Flora, scabby, smudgy, caked edges

Canvas swallowed in darkness

Weeds, decay, dank

Steeped in blood, rank

La Nausee

No scream

Just a picture catching rigor mortis


Namita Sethi 

Welcome to the workshop, Namita. I love the way this poem goes from from brightness and optimism into the darkness through the use of colour.I think it is also alluding to how something can be spoilt by doing too much.


Tell it in white


Tell it in white;

The walls of the rooms, the tiles

In the bathroom, the cold.


Tell it in green;

The field where we built our dens,

The deep still pond, the mould


Steel metal blue.

A girl’s dress hitched up for us,

The secret-never-told-


Thrill knit in red;

Later we dreamed that we’d seen

And shook, rattled ‘n rolled.


Still it grows grey;

The field where we played our games

Closed to us, fenced and sold.


Still it burns brown;

The earth turned, our dens betrayed,

Our future uncontrolled.


Fill it in black,

The pond framed with roads, houses

For rent, or sale (leasehold).


Tell it in shades,

The weeks and the years. We still

See in colours, the old.


Michael Docker

A very poignant, nostalgic poem, Michael that takes us through a life in colour. I like the child hood innocence is portrayed through the idea of building dens that then become inaccessible when the land is sold. 


My Uniform,My friend.

Our first year in high school,
First day,first term.
White uniforms,(one inch below the knee)
red ties, insignia showing,
hair neatly bound,shoes gleaming.
We stood in silence.
Mother principal surveyed us.
“Good”she said,”be proud of your school,
your motto,your uniform,
You wear your uniform everyday,
On Saturday you may wear mufti,
Modest ,mind ,”she added.
What thrill,what excitement !
All day my friends planned
outfits in advance.
A chance to display,
admire,desire and envy,
Not me!
My friend said she would wear her
Bright new skirt.
She asked what I would wear.
Downcast,I said I didn’t care.
Father says school is for study
not fashion.
She looked at the unshed tears,
She knew.
She thought for a moment,
“He’s right,you know”
she said.
“I suppose”I said, not convinced.
Saturday came in a hurry,
I wore my uniform,
white tunic,red tie,insignia showing.
Head bent I walked to school,
ever so slowly.
I heard my name.
There was my friend
in her uniform.
I smiled.
We linked arms ,
and hurried to school


Leela Gautam

Thanks Leela for your message to say how much you are enjoying these workshops. I like this one. Colour seemed to be a good way in to exploring a memory with lots of feelings attached, the strictness of your father but also the loyalty of a good friend.


On the Not Wearing of the Green


Wrapped in the red white & blue of the college scarf

I sat in an overheated Londonderry library

And swatted away

Not flies but other undergraduates

With books & papers piling up

Remorselessly before, behind me.


Come Saint Patrick’s Day

Students borrowed scarves from rival colleges;

They dressed up all in green

And sported shamrocks in their buttonholes

Then down to Coles’ Bar in Derry to get pasted

Til their faces, too, turned green.


Meanwhile, still in red white & blue, I swotted furiously.

Green was what I fell in love with,

The colour of Irish mosses, trees, tall grasses, Celtic seas,

But the colour that politics forbade me to wear

For fears & tears & years until I married my lovely

Green-eyed man from Roscommon—in March, it was—


Near enough on Saint Paddy’s Day.

And in ’98 the politics all changed anyway.

Now do I dwell peacefully in Evergreen.


Lizzie Ballagher

This is a lovely exploration of your favourite colour. You evoke each setting beautifully.



The colour of love                  


The colour of love

…warms today, as the nearly family leave to go on their way

Their colours are laughter, shouting, jumping and youth.

Sharing pink baby photos, yellow raincoats and boots.


… waits today, the arrival of  friends, walking slowly and sitting

and coffee and cake. Wearing scarves and navy, though beige not yet there

and the blue blouse which compliments the  colour of their hair.


And what of our colours? They’re forgiving, trendy and light,

of age and experience and contentment in life,

so ‘rosy’ I reckon, is the colour of our voice


(Though he prefers red, if given the choice)


Angie Butler

This is lovely Angie: the colour of family life, the colour of friendship and the colour of maturity.