No More Words!

This was written by Keith Beasley at Mandy Simone’s Rhwng: the Point Between workshop on May 2nd 2009 (

 No More Words!

(to be performed!)


“No more words!” the poet shouted,

Angry at being told what to love and how to BE.

“No more words!” the poet cried,

At all the teachers gurus and priests.

“No more words” the poet sighed

As they looked at him askance.

“No more words” the poet wrote

Scribbling fast from emotions born.

“No more words” he penned again

As the truth began to dawn:

If there were no more words . . .

What would happen come the morn?

“No more words!” the poet thought . . .

As he picked up a flute


[Poet plays flute for a while, then stops in frustration and sighs]


“No more notes” the poet wrote

As tunes merged into one

“No more notes” the poet wrote

As he gazed up at the sun.

No more words and no more notes

As gulls flew by in trance

No more words and no more notes

So the poet began to dance!


[Poet dances for a while, then stops and groans]


“No more steps!” The poet exclaimed

Collapsing in a heap

“No more steps, they’re all the same”

“It all seems just so . . . cheap”.


No more words, nor notes, nor steps . . .

So he tried with paints and brushes.

But for all he tried . . . and only sighed . . .

Then prayed . . . and came out in hot flushes!


“No words!” he exclaimed

When he finally came around

“No words can do that justice”

But words are in me, and notes within you

So what else can we do?


And so he wrote, as poets do

Inspired, as with the weather

The answer isn’t how or what . . .

The answer is . . . WHATEVER!


Keith Beasley            2.5.09


Variations on sky, field, sea

These poems were co-written by Eileen Dewhurst, Cynthia Morgan and Fiona Owen at Mandy Simone’s Rhwng: the Point Between workshop on May 2nd 2009 (

 Variations on sky, field, sea

 Out of sea – blue day – grey rock

The peace of a silent room

All eyes, no eyes – only a ‘we’

Curiosity keeps one connected

I know it in my heart

No thing, nothing special, ordinary, and yet …

I listen, on every beach, to hear your song


Hanging open, the field

To see and be seen

Sky teeming with life

The gateway, the field

When you left, you took some of me with you

And all is well and all is well

The only thing to say is Yes.


Zig-zags coming through the sky

I fell away into verb: seeing

Standing so still I heard sand speak

From now on Energy!

It was companionable

Some gift, you gave

And all is well and all is well

Spirituality and the Creative Imagination

Spirituality and the Creative Imagination

Alison Leonard 

Where does it come from – the creative urge, the image, the character, the story? I’ve been writing all my life. Poems, stories and dramas flowed out of me from an early age, and since around 30 I’ve had them published and produced in various ways. All that time I wondered where it came from. Now, having achieved my Senior Rail Card, and carrying with it in the same wallet a Student Card for my MA in Creative Writing, I’m travelling alongside student writers on the same path as myself, and I ponder more than ever the origins and impulses of creative invention.

One image comes immediately to mind. It’s from the second volume of Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials, called The Subtle Knife. The boy Will, in despair at his mother’s loss of sanity and seeking a new and better kind of life, sees a black cat slip through a slit in the air between two perfectly ordinary hornbeam trees in Oxford. It turns out to be a slit in the universe. Will follows the black cat and finds himself in a parallel world, where different rules of history, geography and physicality apply and where different lives can be lived and different stories told.

What a vivid picture that is of what happens when we conjure up a story, a novel, a fable, a saga!

Is that what really goes on when we open ourselves to creativity? Is there an actual slit, an invisible aperture, through which our characters and their stories slide into our human, earth-bound, incarnated consciousness?

I think it is possible. How else can you explain my friend’s experience of standing in the shower on a perfectly ordinary day with nothing particularly inside her head, and ‘hearing’, imaginatively, a conversation between two fully-fledged strangers? I often get visions in the shower, too. And I have dreams about … about that small silver-haired brother who my current character is so jealous of … or the priest whose nickname is Moses … or the pair of starlings who rest on the bridge and become the final item of weight which will bring it down into the river. It happens when I’m least expecting it. I’m staying with my daughter in London, pop into an art gallery as I usually do, and – wham! That sculpture by Degas … I know that woman! And if I don’t know her already, if I work at it I soon will. She has spoken to me, as real-ly as if the words were out there, audible in the air.

Writers as diverse as John Fowles and Robert Louis Stevenson describe the initial vision that kick-started their novel. For John Fowles it was the image of a black-cloaked woman at the end of the Cob at Lyme Regis, that long spit leading out from the harbour, turning and gazing steadfastly at him. She became The French Lieutenant’s Woman. For Stevenson it was a dream which became the fantastically divided character, Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde. Stevenson’s wife, Fanny Osbourne, recalled: “In the small hours of one morning I was wakened by cries of horror from him. I, thinking he had a nightmare, wakened him. He said, angrily, ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogie tale.'” (A ‘bogie’ is a Scots hobgoblin.) Where had these two characters (or three, if you count Jekyll and Hyde as two) been before they entered the heads of these writers? Did they exist independently before they ‘came through’?

Or are they merely a composite of many people known to the writer, like the ingredients of a Christmas pudding, which have been noted at different moments of their lives and stored, ready to be mixed and cooked when the moment is ripe, the oven hot and the commissioning editor demanding a new and saleable product?

That last, more pedestrian, theory may be the true one. But I prefer the theory of the independent existence of fictional characters – if only because it’s more fun. I have dreamed whole stories, complete with the pattern of the wallpaper and the name of the Basset hound lying by the fire.

I’m supported in that conviction by no less a literary giant than A.S.Byatt . In her review of David Mitchell’s astonishing novel Cloud Atlas, she notes that each of this novel’s characters – who live in different historical or even future periods – has a birthmark like a comet, ‘as though they might be different incarnations of the same soul or different forms of the same cloud of molecules’. Perhaps, she says, following David Mitchell’s own thought, ‘we exist for a brief moment inside a shell (like Russian dolls) of virtual pasts, one of which is also the real past, and another of virtual futures, one of which is the real future…’ And she concludes, ‘Fictive people are ghosts’.

But it isn’t easy to reincarnate ghosts. Just because I’ve dreamt the wallpaper and the dog by the fire, I can’t simply write the novel about them like pouring water from a jug. The gift of the imagination comes first, but afterwards there’s the work of the imagination. And what hard work that is! What energy and persistence it needs to bring the original gift into existence as a fully viable story!

The spiritual framework which inspires me for that work is, more than any other, the shamanic world view. The shaman, in traditional cultures from pre-Columbian America to Siberia to Aboriginal Australia, is the seer of her or his community, the one who sees the vision of possibilities beyond those that are accessible or ‘normal’. The shaman will leave the physical body and go journeying in the spirit, will visit the realms of darkness and mystery and come back with stories, and with knowledge of what the community must now see, and hear, and do. The awareness that the shaman receives in this way, writes Joan Halifax , ‘is codified in song and chant, poetry and tale, carving and painting. This art is not art for art, rather it is art for survival, for it gives structure and coherence to the unfathomable and intangible. By “making” that which is the unknown, the shaman attains to some degree control over the awesome forces of the mysterium.’ A shamanic journey often involves being stripped down to the bone, or being forced through a tiny hole from one great space into another, wholly different great space.

Being forced through a tiny hole … The process of creating, in accessible and plausible form, a story which has been delivered to you as a miraculous vision, often seems like that. The hugeness of the vision has to be compressed, pulled through, and then recreated on the other side. The shamanic journey, says Joan Halifax, ‘condense[s] personal symbolism through a mythological lens that encompasses the wider human experience. Through creative expression, the human condition is elevated, mythologized and, at last, collectively understood’.

The creative process is not always as exalted as that. It can also seem petty, pointless, and a distraction from the real business of daily living.

Yet it does seem that humankind – while, as T.S.Eliot says, not being able to bear very much reality – can’t let go of creativity. We can toil and consume and be as logical and materialistic as we like, but that vast cast of fictional ghosts will come knocking on the insides of our skulls. They demand that we journey with them, that we squeeze ourselves through that excruciatingly painful hole and come back bearing their news. I’m glad that’s the case. I hope the ghosts never give up on us, but keep on knocking.

On Friday September 1st 2006, Alison Leonard gave a Rhwng talk and workshop entitled Living in Godless Times. Alison Leonard has written two books about life as a spiritual journey, as well as fiction and drama for children and adults. Even though she is Quaker and finds her way inward through silence, she still loves exploring the world of language for words that might express the inexpressible. Her life as a writer interweaves with a lifelong preoccupation with spirituality, and as well as running writing courses in the UK and abroad, she also runs courses in spiritual development and spiritual autobiography.

Thank you very much, Alison!

Charlie Kay & Gorwel Owen

Diolch am y cyfle i berfformio yn Rhwng. Chwaraeom ni ddarn eithaf reoledig i agor y noson, ac yna byrfyfyrio i gau. I drio adlewyrchu thema’r noson, roedd y darn cyntaf yn ymwneud â’r hyn sy’n digwydd mewn gofod rhwng dau sŵn. Mae byrfyfyrio, wrth gwrs, drwy ei natur, yn awgrymu perthynas rhwng y perfformwyr eu hunain, y gynulleidfa, a’r gofod.


Thank you for the opportunity to perform at Rhwng. The piece we played at the start – Duo I for Guitar and Movement – was a response to the idea of ‘between-ness’. Essentially, we both played the same material – a pure tone from Gorwel’s guitar along with a recording of a similar tone manipulated by Charlie’s movement – which led to interactions, through beating, in the space between. To close the evening we improvised, which by its nature suggests relationships between performers, audience, and the space. We found that the occasion led to a quietening experience, which is partly why we found it difficult to answer some if the questions which followed immediately afterwards – we’ll try to use this opportunity to fill in some gaps.

Sonic material consisted of a banjo, the sounds of Charlie’s movements picked up by a microphone, and, as it happened, additional sounds from within the hall itself. These sounds were delayed for a few seconds before being sent to loudspeakers. Apart from responding to one another, and to the environment, we had no other plans.

Rhwng Awst/August 2007

Healing on the NHS?

Cerdd gan Dr Graham Thomas

Iechyd yr NHS

Sut yn y byd pydredig cawn
Shalom, cymuned, Myfi
yw’r Duw sy’n dy iachau.
Egni a dwylo estyngedig,
trydan ddaear y bydysawd,
meddygon yn pecynu’r corff: ni’n
derbyn ein lle;
bodlonrwydd; bod; yn gall.

Yr iechyd meddwl, wedi’i wasgu mewn bocs
ty, swyddfa, cyfrifiadur.
Y crwydryn ar wyneb ddaear
yn symud o goeden, gwair ac anifail
at rhesi cyfyng arch farchnad.
Maes trefi yn malu’r meddwl,
cyfoeth yn gymhlethu’r awch
a’r iseldr yn wastadu.

Aciwpigo oedd y ffordd
i rhyddhau’r “chi”; cytbwyso Yin a Yang.
Pinau yn hel y llif poenus
o’r penysgwydd chwith.
A’r traedmwythwyr, arogldarthwyr a’r Reikwyr
yn ymuno a’r Bod Egniol
yn y gystadleuaeth effaith
am dri deg punt yr awr.

Brechiadau: MMR, polio, pertwsis
mae’r gem o siawns yn dechrau
am ddau, tri, pedwar mis.
A’r flwydd yn gam am fwy:
antigens yn lle afiechyd;
atebion i’r cwestiwn sydd wedi boddi
ym mor ein amheuon:
plant Affrica yn edrych yn syn.

Trwy’r cyffwrdd cariad: HIV.
Mechanwaith rhyw yn gynllun lladd
a’r fam a’r plentyn yn etifeddu’r
distawrwydd cerrig tai gweigion.
Cancer, coma, colli bron
“lle ‘da ni’n gyd yn mynd”.
Ond nid y munud hwnnw.
Mae pob awr i’w ddathlu.

Cip ar y galon: y curiad coll
ym mynwes ein bod.
Y sgwsh a’r clec, gwaed a ffibrin
falf yn cloi’n dyn.
Peirianwaith yr ysbryd yn cynnal bywyd;
harddwch ei nodwedd,
siapiau yn dawnsio ar sgrin
gydol oes.

At the August 2007 meeting of Rhwng: the Point Between, Dr Graham Thomas
explored with the group what “healing” might mean and how we approach seeking healing. He also looked at how we use the local health economy. In particular, we looked at some examples of how NHS healthcare providers attempt to deliver improved “health”. Examples included pharmacy/herbalism, counselling/wisdom, acupuncture/physical treatments, diagnostic technologies/divination, HIV and international health issues. Graham gave one participant an acupuncture treatment and another saw his heart on a portable monitor. A fascinating evening – thank you/diolch yn fawr, Graham!

Graham Thomas graduated in medicine from Aberdeen University in 1993.
He has practised in hospitals in North Wales, South Africa and Lesotho
and been a General Practitioner in Gaerwen since 1998. He has some
experience of the Christian healing ministry and is a medical
acupuncturist. Since 2002 Graham has helped with community HIV work in
rural Lesotho. This year he started training in cardiology and cardiac
ECHO imaging. He has a family and small holding in Cwm Y Glo.

Barddoniaeth gan/poems by Gwyn Edwards

Myfyrdod ar y Greadigaeth

Wele ddyfnder y cyfanfod
A distaw ddawns y ser.
Wele lonyddwch y nôs
A glesni tywyll tragwyddoldeb.
Wele’r golau llwydaidd oer
Cyn dyfod euraidd wawr.
Wele’r goedwig fawr, o’i chwsg
Yn deffro i gôr yr adar mân.
Wele’r mynyddoedd pell
Lle mae’r Fam Ddaear yn ymestyn am yr awyr.
Wele’r anferthol foroedd
A grym eu tonnau.
Wele pob anifail, pob pysgodyn,
Pob pryfetyn a phob blodyn.
Wele odidogrwydd y Cread
A’r hyn a’n gwna’r hyn ydym,
… a rhyfedda!

Meditation on the Creation

Behold the depth of space
And silent dancing of the stars.
Behold the stillness of the night
And deep blue of eternity.
Behold the cold grey light
Before the golden dawn.
Behold the sleeping forest
Awakened by the many songs of birds.
Behold the distant mountains
Where Mother Earth is reaching to the sky.
Behold the vastness of the oceans
And the power of the waves.
Behold each animal, each fish,
Each insect and each flower.
Behold the wonder of Creation
And that which makes us who we are
… and be amazed.


Y Sgwarnog

Ym misoedd yr onnen a’r wernen,
Pan fydd golau y dydd yn cryfhau,
Pan glywir pêr gân y fwyalchen
A bydd natur yn dechrau bywhau,
Pryd hynny, ymhell o sŵn dynion
Swarnogod ddaw allan liw dydd,
Gan ddawnsio ac ymladd yn wirion
A rhedeg yn wyllt ac yn rhydd.

Ar feysydd y gwyll a’r unigrwydd
Pan gyfyd y lleuad uwchben,
Mewn lle nad yw dyn yn gyfarwydd
Y sgwarnog a gyfyd ei phen,
Gan gyfarch hen dduwies yr wybren
A syllu’n hiraethus a hir,
Mae’r lloer yn fwy iddi na llusern
Sy’n g’leuo hen lwybrau y tir.

Hen enaid yw enaid y sgwarnog
Sydd yma cyn tarddiad pob ach,
Fe grwydrodd ein herwau mynyddog,
Mae’n gyfaill i’r dewin a’r wrach
D’wed rhai ei bod yn trawsffurfio,
D’wed eraill mai swynwraig yw hi,
Dan fantell Melangell mae’n cuddio
Rhag dicter yr heliwr a’i gi.

Tu hwnt i’r byd dynol blinderog,
Tu hwnt i’n pentrefi bach clyd,
Tu allan ar diroedd y sgwarnog,
Mae’r ysbryd hynafol o hyd.
Hen ysbryd ffrwythlondeb a natur,
Sy’n bod cyn ‘run rhwyd na ‘run dryll,
Hen ysbryd y blodau a’r blagur
Yn grwydro hyd feysydd y gwyll.



Ble heno fy hynafiaid?
Ar wasgar mewn mynwentydd coll?
Mewn beddau di enw?
Eu cyrff aeth yn un â’r pridd,
Yn rhan o’r ddaear.
Eu canu a ddaeth i ben,
Eu dawnsio a ballodd,
Eu llafurio a aeth heibio
Ac ôl eu llafur nid yw’n ddim.

Ble heno fy hynafiaid?
Pa le mae’r fintai o eneidiau?
Yn ynni nad yw’n darfod,
Yn sefyll fel tyrfa o’m hol
Ac yn ymestyn ymhell,
Nes mynd yn un â’r gorwelion.
Mae nhw yna yn gwrando.
Mae nhw yn dal i freuddweidio a gobeithio
A’u gofal sydd gyda mi o hyd.

Ble heno fy hynafiaid?
Yn y cof a’r genynnau?
Yng nghraidd fy modolaeth?
Eu gwaed sy’n dal i lifo yn fy ngwithiennau
A’r hen is-ymwybod tragwyddol
Sy’n treiddio fel afonydd cuddiedig
Trwy bob rhan ohonof
Yn cyfeirio fy ngherddediad,
Yn llywio fy ngeiriau.


Where now are my ancestors?
Dispersed in lost cemeteries,
In unmarked graves?
Their bodies have become one with the soil
A part of the earth.
Their singing has come to an end
Their dancing has ceased
Their labours have passed on
And the fruits of their labours have come to nothing.

Where now are my ancestors?
Where is that band of souls?
It is energy that does not finish
That stands behind me in a great crowd
And which extends outwards,
Until it becomes one with the horizons.
They are there listening,
They still have dreams and hopes
And they still care for me.

Where now are my ancestors?
In the memory and the genetics?
In the core of my being?
Their blood still flows through my veins
And the eternal subconscious
Permeates like hidden rivers
Through every part of me.
They are directing my steps
They are fashioning my very words.

Gwyn Edwards read the above poems at the May 2007 Rhwng event. When I asked him for a few details about himself, he gave me the following:

“It’s very difficult to say who we really are, because a lot of the time we ourselves do not know. Are we the good things we have done, but have forgotten about? Are we the mistakes we’ve made, which refuse to leave us? Are we the dreams we’ve had or the bright dawns and red sunsets we’ve witnessed? Are we that mysterious potential that we know is within us? Are we what our spirits want us to be?

Here are some facts about me: I eat meat, but feel bad about it. I drive a car, even though I know I should be living a more sustainable existence. I walk in the mountains seeking inspiration from streams, rocks, ravens and loneliness.

I’m trying to be a human being.”

Diolch o galon, Gwyn!


On Friday December 1st 2006, the Welsh triple harpist Llio Rhydderch gave a wonderful performance and talk entitled ‘Whispers From The Past’. Llio Rhydderch and her work embody the idea of ‘rhwng’ in many ways: from deep roots in Ynys Môn her work extends globally; from the base of the raw materials of her tradition she improvises with great freedom; and as a teacher, she forms a bridge between the performers of the past, such as Nansi Richards, and the future. Andrew Cronshaw recently wrote in fRroots magazine that ‘It is impossible to overstate the importance of this triple harpist from the island of Ynys Môn in Welsh, indeed in British music’.

Mae Llio Rhydderch a’i cherddoriaeth yn ymgorffori’r syniad o ‘rhwng’ mewn amryw o ffyrdd: o wreiddiau dwfn yn Ynys Môn y mae ei gwaith yn ymestyn allan i’r byd; ar sylfaen defnydd crai ei thraddodiad, ceir byrfyfyrio cyffrous; ac fel athrawes, mae hi’n creu pont rhwng perfformwyr y gorffennol, fel Nansi Richards, a’r dyfodol. Sgwennai Andrew Cronshaw yng nghylchgrawn fRoots yn ddiweddar: ‘It is impossible to overstate the importance of this triple harpist from the island of Ynys Môn in Welsh, indeed in British music’.

Y Dywysoges Gwenllian, merch Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf

Dan gwrlid, yng nghrud gofid,
Gwawriodd ei dydd ar y Fenai deg

Hunodd aeafau hir
Dan amdo pell

I’n cofleidio ni.

Cerdd gan/poem by Llio Rhydderch

Princess Gwenllian the daughter of the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

Under Môn’s sad gaze
Dawned her day
Cradled and wrapped in sorrow

Forgotten for long winters
Beneath a distant sky

Now awakened,
She embraces us.

Translation by Graham Loveluck


Gwenllian yw thema 4ydd CD Llio Rhydderch
CD287H Fflach:tradd

Gwenllian is Llio’s fourth CD. For her full catalogue, see the ‘Fflach Music from Wales‘ site and for more information, see Llio’s official website.

Diolch o galon, Llio!

The Great Good Place

On Friday 5th January 2007, John Wright played some of the songs off his forthcoming album Dead Ape, Dead Bear, due to be released January 2008.

As Research Support Librarian at the University of Wales, Bangor’s Main Library, he writes, thinking about what we are trying to do with Rhwng: “I often talk about Oldenburg’s book The Great Good Place, where he describes the ‘third place’ as ‘the public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact’.

A ‘third place’, then, seeks to facilitate activity which is open to all to engage with, and seeks to question, to explore, not to take for granted. I hope that the library facilitates in a similar way”.

Many thanks, John.

Two Quotes by Ray Oldenburg

“Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community.”

“Most needed are those ‘third places’ which lend a public balance to the increased privatization of home life. Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase ‘third places’ derives from considering our homes to be the ‘first’ places in our lives, and our work places the ‘second.'”

Quotes from:

God in All Things

Meister Eckhart, the Dominican thirteenth century mystic, is a writer often quoted by Quaker Concern for Animals. In an echo of the precept of ahimsa/harmlessness, he wrote:

“Apprehend God in all things,
For God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God
And is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature
Even a caterpillar –
I would never have to prepare a sermon,
So full of God
Is every creature.”

On Friday 2nd March 2007 Marian Hussenbux of Quaker Concern for Animals gave a talk entitled ‘Every Being is an End’. This covered the history of QCA, its links with other faiths and the concept of Universal Kinship.

Marian has submitted the above quote by Meister Eckhart – thank you very much, Marian.

Marian Hussenbux is a semi-retired teacher of Modern Languages, examiner and translator. Since 2004, she has been clerk of Quaker Concern for Animals and is currently assistant clerk of Birkenhead Meeting. She is secretary of the Green Party Animal Rights group. QCA is developing a strong interfaith policy and is a founder member of the newly launched Interreligious Fellowship for Animals.

Poems by Joan Poulson

Poet Joan Poulson read at Rhwng on Friday February 2nd 2007. She has kindly submitted two poems – thank you very much, Joan.

Anna has never kept ducks

Anna has never kept ducks, has friends who own
only a king-size bed and a black Glide she covets
to ride solo across the Painted Desert.

Afraid of heights she’s walked Striding Edge
climbed a Jack-in-the-Beanstalk ladder
vertical up a face in the Puye Cliffs

and relaxing in bergamot fragrant suds
she ponders a home far from the city
and bookshops, the music, cafes,
friends she meets week-ends in galleries
with glass roofs and staircases
where she rarely thinks of the cave
by the river ghosting her mind
like the eyes of that seal in Wales,
the smells of a bluebell wood in spring.

She’ll make extensions of wood and glass
and mud to her forever-home

will read and paint, write strange, startling phrases.
On drizzly nights she’ll gaze at moons and galaxies
through glass, on soft dry evenings stretch beside
the waterfall, whispering with owls and birch trees,
chuckling as otters slide mud-glossy slopes
and foxes leap and yelp, unable to reach
the tree-house she built for her ducks.

A Friday in June

Into the city,
first time in weeks.

The tram juddering,
my thoughts on the wonder that is my life.

The tram juddering,
wounded caterpillar.

I turn to your book,
read about your dog,
about waiting for a train,
about an August caterpillar.

I am weeping.

Joan Poulson writes for both adults and children, has read her work to audiences indoors and out, in desert and in snow, from Norway to India, Penrith to the Isle of Wight, California to Vermont. Her work has appeared in book-form including onetree singing (Blackthorn Books) and the children’s novel Dear Ms (A and C Black); on commissioned sculpture (Durham Art Gallery and Norton Priory Museum); on posters (Poems in Waiting Rooms, the Arts Council); in dance drama production; on Radio 4 and Channel 4 television.