Wendy French worked as a head teacher of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School for many years. She left this work in 2003 to work in a free lance capacity promoting creative writing in schools, hospitals and health care settings. She now works with young people with mental health problems, a group of adults who suffer from dysphasia and Age Concern. She runs workshops in festivals and this year attended the Torbay Festival to facilitate a workshop on the prose poem. She also won the Torbay Poetry festival with her poem, ‘The Gardens of Ho Chi Minh City’.
Wendy has two chapbooks published by Tall-lighthouse press, one full collection of poetry, Splintering the Dark published by Rockingham press and a new book due out with tall Lighthouse next year – that’s if she can ever get down to revising the work.
Wendy works on the premise that words and thinking about words helps us all, whoever we are, to understand better our own identity and the world we live in.
The Gardens of Ho Chi Minh City
Even on the other side there’s no break from the noise of this river,
boats make their way to the Delta.
Women step from pavements, weave from one side of the road to another
I watch motorcycles scorch hot tarmac, wait for a gap that never comes.
Men try to make a dong selling fake Levis to tourists.
Days fold in on themselves, begin in the middle.
Lying in bed rehearsing our morning’s activities, order’s abandoned.
We try to remember what came first, the elephant tied to the post
or the rat gnawing the monkey’s tail? The water-hole’s dried and the greenest
of trees blurs grey with a hungry goat.
I love those botanical gardens for their colours, their frankness.
And now back in England the stars of your city increase in brightness,
the vision – Saigon river to sail down, tapioca roots to taste again
and this feeling that today started yesterday and will end tomorrow.