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Polar poetry by Kaddy Benyon

Polar poetry by Kaddy Benyon

During the Festival of Ideas, a poet based in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Kaddy Benyon led two workshops at our 'Ghostly Thrills' drop in day on 31 October 2012. Below are the two poems written during the workshops as well as one constructed from the words and images put in our poetry suggestion box, out in the gallery next to the polar dressing up box during for the duration of the festival.

Jumbled Up, Tumbled Up

If you really want to know

how it feels to explore

the ice-capped axes of the world,

step inside my snow boots

heavy as boats, slip on

my thermals, my fleece, dungarees.

Bulky and strange, tight and hot,

try walking in the cold air,

try talking, working, taking

a pee. The winds are so deadly

you have to duck down

low, but there are lights here

that dance and swirl and stars close

enough to touch. So why

not ease your chilled fingers

from mitts hot as oven gloves

(but don't think of your

mother basting a Sunday roast,

or your lover picking sweet, ripe

plums in the summer sun)

but peer through my goggles

to protect your dazzled eyes, cover

your ears with the flaps

of this rabbit-fur hat, and tread

softly-softly through this snow-dome

land which shivers and turns

everything you know upside down.

* This poem was written using the words and images put in the poetry suggestion box in the museum gallery during the Festival of Ideas.

The Snow King

Let me imagine you far from here

oh polar bear, spread-eagled on the floor.

Your soft, wide pelt now cleaned

or bleached, your giant teeth blunted

by hunger. I gnaw around my nails

as I imagine your dull eyes bright

again, ice beads spangling your fur,

the heft and quake as you rear then lunge

to toss spray-flecked salmon from holes

punched in ice; pin wriggling silvers

to the snow's glittering crust and wait

eagerly for each final, breathless pulse.

* This poem was written in response to the polar bearskin displayed on the wall in the lecture theatre at the Scott Polar Research Institute during the morning poetry workshop on 31 October 2012.

Little Diver

She's about to dive away from me

this pretty, pea-green seal.

Her tail, a twist of frozen spinach

melts in the roiling waters

as she slips seamlessly from iceberg

to slush, to sea. One flick,

a splash and a lollop

and she'll vanish from me, darting

between echo and shadow:

playthings in her icy, marbled deep.

* This poem was written in response to the small green seal, one of four sculptures in the handling collection at the Scott Polar Research Institute during the afternoon poetry workshop on 31 October 2012.