Giving yourself to Life

I was delighted when author Deborah Shephard asked if she could use a line from my poem ‘Love Affair’  for the title of her new book  Giving yourself to life – a journal of pain, hope and renewal, Calico 2015.
In her introduction, Deborah Shephard points out that ‘Mansfield too lived with debilitating ill health and died at just thirty-four from a heart condition and the ravages of tuberculosis.
 In the poem, Katherine Mansfield is sitting in one of the many little hotels in the south of France where she stayed while seeking a cure for consumption. 
Her guest has failed to arrive and she is dining alone at a table with a white napkin’.

Love Affair

You wrote the table

was laid

for two

but nobody came

so you dined opposite

a white napkin.


It’s called giving yourself

to life.

Through the window

a quiet branch

has the evening

to itself


“And there it was. In the course of interpreting Katherine Mansfield’s experience, Riemke Ensing had captured the essence of how to life in the midst of ill health, adversity, misunderstanding, despair and aloneness. 
You can find a way to be and to feel alive by being receptive to the beautiful world in which we live, by ‘giving yourself to life’.”
I am indeed honoured to be part  of this very special journal which traces twelve months of a chronic pain condition with such courage, optimism, determination and perseverance. 
She mentions Matisse in old age  – his ‘irrepressible creativity and how it carried him through a time of suffering’.  Her reflections on literature, art, the beauty of her garden, the kindness and generosity of family and friends, 
and of course the Canterbury earthquake and how it affected her and other people’s lives, are a helpful reminder that one can rise above adversity even if at times the struggle seems almost too devastating. 
Her message is to ‘never give up. Keep on trying.’

pdf icon GYTL-Cover-B-25-July.pdf