Re-imagining Ageing: Poetry Exhibition

The Sands of Time, The White Building, Sheffield City Centre, 2021

I meant to share this much earlier. I’m not sure why I didn’t. I think I just didn’t feel entirely comfortable with my poem. But it’s a publication and a project I really enjoyed so I ought to share it. The project was called Re-imagining Ageing (produced by research organisation Lab4Living and Joan Healey, Social Sciences lecturer at Sheffield University) and I took part in the workshops last summer along with a bunch of other poets. Together we explored ideas related to the meaning of time and how we spend it now compared to life before plague times.

One of my poems, The Sands of Time, made it into the exhibition and the pamphlet, which I am pretty stoked about. I submitted four altogether and they’ve all been accepted to appear in an anthology later this year along with other participants’ poems exploring this vast subject. The exhibition took place at the end of last year and the photos were taken on my phone so they’re not razor sharp. Below is a version of my poem that’s a little easier on the eye.

Does time make everything more unbearable or more
treasured, as dear as hard-won freedom? As you
cast off the arrogance of your twenties and r-
-ealise this time, you know how to lov-
-e better than you ever did? Can
time only be measured in all
the moments you spend
with people you love? 
And if those peo-
-ple are gone
does tim-
-e bec-
-ies of
ghosting you
as you recall, h-
-onour and worship
bittersweet traces of y-
-our departed loved? Why
must time be measured in dete-
-rioration, the look of things, beauty
fading, echoes, amnesia, silence and how
quickly dust gathers? Who was I with you, who
am I this moment, to where will I eventually disappear?

Honestly, it does make me cringe a little. It needs editing but I didn’t want to mess with the shape of it so I submitted it as was. Perhaps it only got in because it worked visually. Looking at it now, I’d definitely want to rewrite it. I think I repeat the word love too much. I think I would rather not use the word love at all. Some words are overused and I feel this one is.

Still, it was a good event and at the end poets were invited to read their poems. There was a lovely receptive audience of maybe thirty people, and though I always get a little nervous before reading, in that moment I wasn’t nervous at all.

And, of course, I’m not in my twenties, I’m quite a bit older now. But I refer to the invincible feeling one has during those years and how it stays with you for a while beyond that decade, that is, until you get a wake up call or two and realise you ought to be doing what you love as time is only shortening (now I can’t stop using the word love!).

And I understand why middle age is called middle age but I have never liked phrases that have ageist connotations, or ageism in general.

Anyway, there were some wonderful poems in the exhibition, moving, bittersweet, life-affirming. I hope to share more from the anthology when it comes out later this year.

What ageist phrases do you find problematic?

What words do you think are overused in poems?

Feel free to share your thoughts below…

© N. Nazir 2022

25 thoughts on “Re-imagining Ageing: Poetry Exhibition

  1. Congratulations, Sunra! A wonderful poem. ❤️ I don’t know about concepts that I find problematic in reference to age, I find it’s what’s unsaid that can be most damaging. Assumptions people have about particular ages and particular activities, our outcomes associated with a certain age. What people that hold onto these types of assumptions can’t see, is the negative impact they will have on their lives by living inside of preconceived limitations based on age. Again, congratulations on the poem and the anthology!! 💞

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Jeff! ❤ Yes, there are often preconceived limitations placed on people based on age, especially when entering contests, or applying for grants. Surely, acquiring more knowledge and experience with the years then being able to pass that on is a good thing. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and good wishes, appreciated ❤ x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. fireblossom32

    I am not a fan of the current fad of dividing people up by age group and adding a moniker like boomer, millennial, gen x, etc. It seems to me to be just one more way to split people apart and set one against the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, FB. It seems to have happened with the rise of technology and the internet moreso. They are totally ageist terms, I agree. I think it’s more apparent with women too, as the older woman has expressions like “old maid” or “cougar” which is not very flattering but guys get to be referred to as a “silver fox.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done. You should be very proud of a well constructed and interesting poem which stands admirably as it is. I worked for a charity providing care for older people and there was a constant debate about what words to use in advertising, reporting, and communicating with service users. The following were amongst those used: Aged, Older People, in later life, Living with dementia, Golden years. There never was a perfect term!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is pretty amazing, all of it. I loved the poems immediately, from the first glorious one on. At one point, while still in the gallery, I just knew that one of yours would follow. 🙂 And what a poem! This shape is so optimistic, especially in connection with time and age. We are now where the dribble is at its narrowest, right? And then it expaaaands? Oh, and love can never be overused, overstated, repeated too often or robbed of its meaning. What a brilliant thing to be included in such an anthology!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First, congratulations. Then on to the poem. It is a perfect thing in the way of shape poems–having written my share, I know how hard it is to get that clarity of line and definition with typeface as the medium. I agree love is an over-used word, but I don’t think it should be missing entirely from this examination of the fleeting quality of our lives and our connections, unless you can think of a better way of putting it. The questions at the end are really finely put. Nothing is more ageing than loss, yet not all loss is deterioration. Sometimes it builds something stronger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joy ❤ I really appreciate your feedback, it's wonderful to get your perspective on my stuff, and in general. I'd love to see your shape poems! I think I've seen the odd one on your blog? I'll swing by and have a look soon 🙂

      Re love as an overused word – right? It's not just me then! But you're right, if there's no other way to put it, then it might be the only word to use. And yes, nothing is more ageing than loss, but it also makes you kind of grow up overnight.

      Thank you ❤


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