Patrick Jones on his new work ‘Inviting The Light’

Patrick Jones has released a new hybrid collection of poetry and music called Inviting The Light  that explores grief, loss, healing, gratitude, resilience, awe and transformation. A spiritual journey determined to find moments of light in this time of desperate darkness. Patrick talks us through each track exclusively below: 

Inviting the light

I grew frustrated with not being able to get new work out- tired with the gatekeepers of culture in Cymru. So I decided to go back to basics as nearly 30 years ago I self published my first collection ‘The Guerilla Tapestry’ typed out on a borrowed Amstrad computer (From Bob Mole Arts Officer)which I then printed out from a floppy disc at the library where I worked after sneaking in and de alarming the system early on a Sunday morning! Oh they were the days- 200 copies for £250 printed by Circle Press sold them for £2 and ended up reprinting 3 times- launched 1995 at a reading with the late great Benjamin Zephaniah in Blackwood Miner’s Institute. It gave my voices tangibility. I could call myself a poet now!

So here I am and the world is a thousand times worse than then – not sure I can wait two years for publication, not sure I can even get published, so, fuck it, I decided to approach it as an album ( less work less poems more accessible in many ways) and as I have always mixed music with my readings and poetry ( three spoken word albums and lyricist for James Dean Bradfield’s solo album Even in Exile) I vowed to release 3 such projects during 2024 each combining a physical poetry booklet alongside a digital album on bandcamp ( with selected pieces backed by music and soundscapes) It gave me a purpose and a reality.

So, inviting the light was born and at first it was going to be akin to Lou Reed’s final release Hudson River Wind Meditations but with words; a sort of poetry and music for well being work as I had been on a journey of trying to deal with grief and loss as well as being diagnosed with cervical stenosis of the spine, so exploring diet, sea swimming, yoga, stretching, breathing techniques, gratitude practices and meditation to heal my mind and body.

But so much changed in the last few months with the October 7th attacks then Israel’s genocidal war on the civilians of Gaza( I had visited The Occupied Territories in June with Martyn Joseph and his Let Yourself Trust and The Amos Trust.) I felt I had to go deeper and into a different landscape, as I felt we were living in such a dark time and I genuinely didn’t know how to find any light, so it became a personal and societal meditation on my own grief my own struggles, alongside the world’s spiral into darkness and the poems in the booklet try to reflect this turbulence and to find ways of inviting the light back somehow.

This short poem by Izumi Shikibu was my guiding principle 

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

Breathe against the Hurricanes with Ethan Jones( my eldest son)

Was originally commissioned by Literature Wales for its Plethu/Weave project but breathwork has become such an important part of my daily life that I knew I wanted to take it further and I wasn’t sure if poetry can have such a blunt utilitarian message,but I saw it as a metaphor for being able to control what we can control as the world spins violently in front of us. I am indebted to neuroscientist Dr Andrew Huberman for first planting the seed of how breath work can help us calm our nervous system and find a calmness. Ethan created this wonderful piece of music that utterly transforms the reading of it- a cosmic synth prism fused with an Enya-esque riff emboldened with some blistering fuzzy guitar. I feel as if I am flying when I read along to it and I love his minute play out which gives the reader a moment to reflect and maybe try a few deep breaths – the fall the rise the fall the rise.

Marcescence in Spring (To My Mother) with James Jones

Is still a very difficult piece for me to read as it details the aftermath of my Mother’s passing- the music totally captures that searing desolation I felt and it was as if I was wandering in a vivid technicolour dream not knowing what was real or what was imagined. But we have to bear witness to speak our silent sadness for it shall help us process the loss and maybe let others feel less alone.

The stillness we seek (with music by Patrick Jones)

Just my attempt to find a peace to interrogate myself and find a small place of sanctuary – the coming to terms that nothing is ever perfect, that we have to accept the cracks and wait from the light to break in. Today’s insta culture puts so much pressure on perfection and absolutes that it leaves no room for nuance or failure which is very dangerous for soul and society. It is one of those poems that finishes what the initial inception started. Quite hard to accomplish as one gets older and tries to hard. Purity of expression is what connects I feel. When you dress it up like so many career poets do with Greek references of detachment there is no feeling left.

You (For My Father) with James Jones

This is a special poem as I wrote it within days of my Father’s death. It is a true story about his penknife and has a resonance with Heaney’s Digging with his father’s shovel acting as a metaphor in his life – I hope it is a monument to my Dad’s life and spirit in some way. I also use it in my writing workshops to show how by meditating on an object imbued with a person we create a testimony a portrait of that person. It is an accessible way of getting people to feel they too can write a poem. James’ playing combines both a counterpoint and an accompaniment to my emotional state but I feel it deep in my stomach when I hear those notes

Lovesung with Ethan Jones

Is a meditation on loss and grief and how we can perhaps find some solace in simplicity in nature to find our loved ones again- in this case the gentle beginnings of growth after such cold fallowness. Ethan deftly creates a work of hope and peace through the soundscape ending with the sound of spring birds. It is one of James Dean Bradfield’s favourite pieces of music on the album

Letter to a guntower ( soundscape by Patrick Jones)

What I witnessed in The Occupied West Bank in June will haunt me forever – a Mother telling of how they were contacted at 5 am by an Israeli soldier called Daniel to tell them their home will be demolished in 2 hours- which it was as she and her little children watched. Or the man who was forced to build his home underground on a mountain his family had owned and farmed for 300 years as the Israeli government had deemed it illegal and adjudicated settlements could be built there- he said ‘I will not be your enemy’– makes me cry when I think of it.

Every road watched over by a guntower and snipers, water and electricity controlled by Israel and 18 year old female soldiers with painted nails telling our Palestinian guide he couldn’t walk up a road that we were allowed to.

So I wrote this in Bethlehem as the sun defiantly rose- the next instalment of these releases will explore my time in Palestine and what we have witnessed these last three months in collaboration with Palestinian musicians. The feedback is meant to be the guntower signals trying to drown out my voice of protest the crackle and hiss of a murderous predator determined to silence expression. My voice wins- flowers bloom.

The Swim with Ethan Jones

Sea swimming literally saved me from falling into a deep pit of despair and depression after losing both my parents in 2018 and 2019, it became my cold cathedral my salty altar where I took weekly communion no one judged me or told me how to feel. It became a sort of addiction an addiction to healing though where I would go to Southerndown in all weathers and plunge into that wild wet void that filled my soul and alongside the emotional bandaging the science proves benefits to the physiology – with immune system support, activating the brown fat in the brain, raising dopamine levels to give a natural high and saved using the hot water for a bath!
I love the guitar part for this- it is triumphant, hopeful, stoic and strong and says to me do not give up which is exactly what sea swimming did for me.

Waving, not drowning ( soundscape Patrick Jones)

The title is obviously inspired by Stevie Smith’s timeless ode to what we say and what is really happening. It reflects what it is like to be trapped in a loveless relationship caught in flight or flight mode daily which sapped the very essence of life itself from me and I learnt to mask it with platitudes and avoidance like we all do. I finally broke free from the physical and emotional attachment and the last line is one of redemption and hope. Though throughout the relationship I felt as if my partner was metaphorically happy to see me drown, finally, I could use my hands again to wave goodbye. It is a journey to being oneself once again.  The dissonant feedback hum was me facing my Epiphone explorer guitar close to the amplifier and letting it speak of atrophy.

Daystar with Ethan Jones

I always knew this would be the last track of the collection. It was written at a point where I knew I had to change my mind set and on waking not dwell on the negative, ruminating on loss and dread of tomorrow, but to rise and attempt ‘to glow, to sow light across this cold‘ so it became a sort of an inner mantra to give me the strength to continue and move forward. I said to Ethan can you create the sound of a sunrise….I think he managed it beautifully.

‘Pay attention. Be astonished. Write about it’ Mary Oliver

Patrick Jones
Cymru January 2024

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