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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


Robin Parker, former mayor of Rochdale and stalwart of the creative community takes an eclectic approach to the arts, and likes to see Rochdale arts organisations working in collaboration.

Amongst his published works are Edenfield Scrolls (some dusty documents he found) that seem to confirm that our local landscape was the real setting of many of The Bible’s more astounding stories. He has also had these self-penned poems recorded on to cd by local dialect poet Sid Calderbank. Robin also runs Langley Writers and co-hosts Those Bards at the Baum, a monthly celebration of creative writing at the well-known local hostelry.

Here are three sonnets selected from his collection of 75 to works of Van Gogh. The first a still life from Paris, the second a landscape from Arles and the third a portrait from Auvers-sur-Oise.

Four Sunflowers Gone to Seed

With swirling brushes, diverse manner stroked,

Warm and cold colour contrasts, artist hones;

Harmonies intense of colour invoked,

Blue, orange, red, green, yellow, violet tones.

These life-size flowers, cut and almost dead,

With gnarled chopped stalks set pointed to the fore;

Three blooms arranged like ghastly rodent’s head,

Which many other artist might abhor.

Without embellishments of vase or pot,

True highlight of Montmartre time, it’s thought;

But masterpiece in artist’s eyes t’was not

For works from capital he saw as nought.

Four sunflowers lying withered, gone to seed,

As Paris was outliving Vincent’s need.

Orchard in blossom (plum trees)

Motivating orchard trees in bloom,

By early April were painted fourteen;

Welcome respite from Parisian gloom,

Enthusiasm he had not foreseen.

Work crafted in contrasting, pastel shades,

Stimulated hyper-activity;

Dabs and varied brush strokes freely cascade,

Epitomising new-found liberty.

Grass with diverse wilds to orchard’s hedge,

Plum trees pointing upwards to the sky;

In parallel lines they grow to distant edge,

White blossoms which attracted Vincent’s eye.

Symbolising evidence of rebirth,

Which energised renewal of self-worth.

Girl in white

Eight poppies stand out sharp in orange red,

As though in stellar constellation form;

Outlines of darker leaves below embed,

Contrasting with light pastel background norm.

New springtime ears of grain on green blue strands,

Tops just begin to hint a yellow tinge;

Within this context smart young woman stands,

Though image doesn’t background space infringe.

Gaugin-like face and hands, slender and slight,

Almost too elegant to pose outside;

Competing boldly, dress of purest white,

Bright yellow hat round which are ribbons tied.

Such portraits, Vincent wrote, he’d like to see,

Fronting wheat fields’ vivid tranquillity.

© Robin Parker

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