Some rambling thoughts on taking part in the park bench project

Kearsney Interpreted

As part of the Park Bench project we asked the poets and writers to contribute a poem or piece of writing while sitting on a park bench in Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens. Some of the poetry will become part of the soundtrack for the  park bench film and some selected lines will be used later on park benches.

Recently while sorting through  the written contributions for the Soundtrack I rediscoved this reflection from Anna-Mayra Trompa:

some rambling thoughts on taking part in the Park Bench project 

Benches in public places hold a lot of meaning for people; the number of dedication plaques appearing on benches bears witness to this.  I have some reservations about the rightness of this: is it OK to slap the mark of ownership on a special spot? It’s nostalgia for the intimate circle of the person concerned, but is it fair to impose it on the world at large?  By extension every corner of the world might be a memorial to someone.  Who has entitlement to this kind of immortality?  A park bench should still be an indivisible item of common ownership. A park bench is a place from which to watch children play but be able to leap into action to comfort grazed knees. It’s a place to drop a bag and get out some slightly squished sandwiches (these need to be homemade and imperfect) and try not to get grease on the pages of a book.  It was a place from which to feed the ducks with leftover bread but we now know better and need to bring them suitable food.  A park bench is where you sit and watch others through your sunglasses.  A short stop for a cigarette; it would once have sat in a sea of smoked out filters, best to bag these now and bin them properly.  A sojourn for lovers: in Soviet times, after dark, no matter the time of year, every bench in the Garden Ring around Moscow was occupied by couples busy with intimacy, escaping the confines of tiny, overoccupied apartments. Park benches go with trees, like a horse and carriage.  Woods are to be walked through but parks are to be sat in.  So they need benches.  For everyone. And, whether they know it or not, for a brief while everyone is an artist, doing that most artistic of things: sitting and looking.  Purposeful while doing nothing.