Just Borrowing a Few Words

I watched a programme about sculptor David Nash this week.  He makes all of his work out of wood he finds, out of fallen or dead trees he comes across on his travels.  Part of his philosophy for his work seemed to be that while he can be part of the process of the creation of a sculpture, natural processes of drying out, fire and water may also be part of the creation.  He has even made some work, now situated in a forest, which is designed to rot back into the earth.

I was particularly struck by his comments that his material, wood, comes from the earth and will always eventually rot away into humus.  A tree may grow and be fashioned into a table we have in our house, but eventually it will fall away again; we have only borrowed the wood for the period we have the table in the house.

It reminded me of a friend telling me that after she had written a novel which she fell out of love with and she burnt the manuscript, she felt as if she had released all the words from their confinement and she was free to use them all again in as many poems as she wanted.

I like the idea that we can use as many or as few words as we like because really they’re only borrowed for as long as we need them; and if they don’t work in the first draft they can be recycled into something new.

So, I’m off to find and arrange a few more in a new pattern.

Leave a comment


  1. kathy

     /  August 17, 2011

    I love the analogy. What a brave friend being able to let go of her manuscript like that. I wonder whose words I’ve borrowed to write this?

    • Hi Kathy – I like the idea of all of those words dancing around waiting to be choreographed again.


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