Montrose Welcomes London Bard Sarah de Nordwall

London Bard Sarah de Nordwall

London Bard Sarah de Nordwall

Gabby Landry '18, Editor-in-Chief

“‘The Bards would speak to the kings without fear.’  As I read that, I thought to myself: ‘That’s what I want to do- speak to the kings of today without fear.”

These words resonated with Montrosians of every grade as the Bard Sarah de Nordwall told her story.  Montrose welcomed Ms. de Nordwall from London from Thursday, April 28th through Monday, May 2nd, for sessions and workshops on the world of poetry.

In sessions with grades 7-12 during her stay, Ms. de Nordwall presented her poems, shared stories, and led Montrosians in writing their own poems and responses to poetry.  She gave students the opportunity to hone their writing skills in a creative environment.  Later, Ms. de Nordwall shared more advice for anyone wishing to write poetry.  She said, “If you’re trying to start writing poetry, first: stop trying to write a poem.  Instead, find something that inspires you- an object at a museum, a juicy line in a play or a book, or anything else that sparks your interest.  Then, describe whatever it is, and write to it.  That’s when it will begin to write back to you in poetry.”

In an interview, the Bard also discussed her beginnings as a professional poet.  She shared, “I first began writing to entertain other people at work.  Then, one step at a time, I began to perform elsewhere and gain confidence as I gained experience.  I felt that through using my talent for others, I followed my calling.  And when you’re using your talent for others, you are safe in following your calling, even when you’re on a dangerous road.”  The Bard also shared an underlying motivation for writing poetry: “I see the world and life as a big conversation; you have to have it.  I choose to have this conversation through writing- through poetry.”

Additionally, Ms. de Nordwall shared how poetry has shaped her life.  She said, “First of all, writing poetry taught me that I didn’t know myself very much.  But it also helped me get to know myself better.  And that’s something everyone can get out of writing poetry: knowing yourself.  The images I used in my poems became clues to myself and who I truly was and am.  My poems also helped me to solve problems, to see things more clearly.  It allows me to see and show the beauty in other people.”

“Poetry brings you back to the personal and away from the political agendas.”  With these words, the Bard revealed the true nature of poetry: a key to discovering yourself and helping others through presenting the truth, not a platform for political agendas.  She certainly demonstrated this aspect of poetry when asked to perform her “Container of Abandoned Minds” for the House of Lords to the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Conscience and Belief.  Her poem perfectly described the nature of a society in which freedom of conscience and opinion are crushed and “political correctness” is the law of the land.

The Bard performed this poem, among others, in a session with the Sophomore Class.  In their next session, she distributed paper copies of the various poems previously read and allowed the girls 15 minutes of silence to reflect and write on a line or aspect of one poem that caught their eye.  Then, in the final minutes of the workshop, a couple students read their poems aloud to the class.

By order of the Bard, here is one poem that was a product of that workshop, inspired by “Container of Abandoned Minds,” which is placed next to it.


“Container of Abandoned Minds”Sarah de Nordwall
There is a placeWhere standardised thoughtWill lead, if you care to go.

Why so few see, where the path leads on

Is hard to say, or know.
The road takes little effort

As it slopes and twists and winds.

But when you arrive, you’ll know the place;

The container of abandoned minds.
Its walls are sheer consensus

Their surface, entirely flat.

They almost seem to absorb the light

They’re so utterly grey and matt.
And all the sounds are deadened

The many voices, stilled
For the Container of Abandoned Minds

Is crushingly, shockingly filled.
Its inhabitants are all relieved

Of the strain of a complex life,

Where grace and suffering mend the world

And receive the surgeon’s knife.
No healing there,

Through pain or joy

They are offered this instead;

That all the world become the same

And the living obey the dead.
There is a place

Where standardised thought

Will lead, if you care to go.
The container of abandoned minds

Don’t say you didn’t know.

“Standardized Thought”Gabrielle Landry
Standardized thought it dangerous.Where everyone agrees;There are no disputes or arguments-

But silence of a massive degree.
No one cares to share opinions,

No one wants to differ or divide.

So they go on remaining standardized,

Leading empty, thoughtless lives.
But when one chooses to be different-

To inspire, grow, or change,

The standardized society can shift

To one where freedom reigns.


The Montrose community offers its sincere thanks to the Bard Sarah de Nordwall for her time spent at Montrose, her words of inspiration, and her valuable advice for all at Montrose.  

We hope to see her again next year!