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By: Bethan James

About The Poem

I wrote this poem during a recent writing and activism workshop led by disabled poet Penny Pepper. We were asked to pick any colour and free write.

As a disabled/ chronically ill writer myself, I was partly thinking about how the natural world has been a place of escapism for me during the pandemic – physically and mentally. I also enjoy visiting the National Galley where Monet’s works referenced in my poem are displayed. Art, nature and healing are interlinked.

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clare cmae to mind, where she briefly mentioned critics referred to painting with violet pallettes and seeing these hues as a ‘mania’. My poem is a challenge to that.

The Poem

Those paintings in the National Gallery of Monet’s purple water lilies made waves when they
were first displayed, with stuffy monocled men saying only the insane saw violet in the water
and the sky. It was later dubbed “Violettomania”.

But there are plums in sunsets and the violent violet of a fresh bruise in puddles. Amethysts
blink amid the reflections in my corner shop’s windows; there is lavender waiting in the
bubbles at the bottom of my teacup after washing up.

Somewhere, a water lily laughs a rich, mulberry laugh.

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