Cullercoats couple Harry and Bridget Gallagher started their online magazine Up! during the worst of the pandemic. They felt that in the midst of the very real doom and gloom, there should be a place where good things can be celebrated. The May 2022 edition focuses on health and wellness, a very necessary concern as many people have struggled with both their physical and mental health during the last few years.
Harry is a well-known poet, and there is always a good selection of poetry in the pages of Up! This month, in a poem called ‘If these are the end times’ Yorkshire poet Mark Connors reflects on a recent holiday at Ardnamurchan in the north of Scotland, describing ‘these ancient soaked hills, / the sideways rain and loud cloud / obscuring Eigg, Rum and Muck / for now,’ which may be a realistic view of the local weather, although not an especially uplifting one; but then he speaks about ‘the overwhelming promise of tomorrow / when the forecast is good.’
Gerda Pickin’s poem Momentum, uses a cycling metaphor. After a long and exhausting climb, she encourages us:
Easy does it, free-wheel from here. Who knows where momentum might carry you.
which of course is a metaphor for post-pandemic life.
Also in the magazine, Rob Wylie describes the boost to mental health to be gained from singing together, which has led to the regular community singing night ‘Mariners and Marras’ in North Shields; Joanne Hare talks about the benefits of yoga, and Harry interviews Marissa Magee about the wonderful work done by the Maggie’s cancer centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Lyndsey Dickinson reflects on three poems
Where the wild flowers bloom
I loved the gentle rhythm of this poem. It has the ability to rake us out of our own frantic lives for a few seconds and transports us to a more peaceful, calmer place.
The Pause Inbetween
A beautiful description of an apricot sunset! The poem was a timely reminder to slow down and appreciate the here and now by focussing on life’s simple pleasures.
Menopause is Liver and Onions
I loved the comparison of the Menopause being like a greedy wolf that sneaks up on us. I think this poem will resonate with many women, and I love the author’s notion that this stage in a woman’s life is an agent of change and inspiration, not just the scary and inevitable part of life that all women will go through.
Thoughts from Christina Mueller-Stewart
The May issue of Up! has touched me in lots of different ways. Many of us have been confronted with ill health in the last two years. Even those who had been previously lucky enough to escape illness and disability, were confronted with the fragility and mortality of human life, that of our loved ones and friends, and also our own. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on our physical and mental wellbeing and is an event that has seared itself into our collective consciousness. But where there is sickness, change and uncertainty, there is also strength, resilience and hope. Reading through the pages of Up! has shown me that others also feel weak and afraid at times and that this ok, life is still good, even when it is not perfect. UP! spreads positivity without diminishing our journeys of suffering and change, which make us who we are and give us the ability to reach out to others. Contributions of articles and poetry of those who have been there, worn the t-shirt and have endured, give this issue a genuine feel without any sugar-coating.
And from Nicola Tipton
What a truly uplifting publication Up! is. I have just had my first taste of it, thanks to a friend. So much to feel good about and so much practical advice. I love the little touches too, like the quotes at the end of the articles. Food for thought.
As someone who dabbles with writing poetry, I was particularly drawn to the poems. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. It has been particularly important for me at times of stress, and when I have had mental health issues. I wrote loads after suffering bereavement and during lockdown. Now, I am in a ‘happier place’ I still continue to write. I recommend it.
I was particularly drawn to Mike Connors’ ‘If these are the end times’, especially the last four lines:
I'll sip my single malt and wait for my lover to rise pink from her bath and join me in the conservatory to see what the night sky has in store for us.
Also, the last lines In Helen Marshall’s ‘The Pause Inbetween’ resonated:
But right here, right now With the soft sand under my feet And the song of the sea birds in my ears As I breathe As I swim As I stroll I am alive I am content I am free
My favourite poem, however was Samantha Turner’s ‘So What’. A joyous song. Live, love and laugh whatever your age. Make love and live in the moment.
So what ? We are no longer young. We are ageing and a little grey, Our bones crack and our bodies ache. So what? Let' s paddle in the sea anyway Let' s have a go on the swings. Let' s get tipsy on gin and dance in the garden like we used to! Let' s kiss like teenagers and feel skin against skin. We are still here, we are alive! And I for one think that is wonderful!
All three poets urge us to live in the moment and take pleasure in what we have. Life is short. Life is precious. Carpe Diem!
And a final word on Up! from Judi Sutherland
With a backdrop of huge and global events that can leave us powerless and despairing, it’s good to focus on some of the smaller and more local things that we can do to improve our sense of well-being. It’s worth taking a break with this online magazine to adjust our view of the world.
You can find the May issue and past issues of Up! on their facebook page.