Interned

We met once again at The Venue in Wells to hear Sharon Larkin from Cheltenham. In the first half she read from her pamphlet (above), which confronts a difficult subject – eating disorders – with courage, earthy humour and a clear, uncompromising gaze. In her second half she read a wide variety of work, some published and some in-progress. It is always rather a treat to be given a preview of not-yet-published poetry!

In the open-mic slots we heard from Diana, Steve, Andrew (including a poem forthcoming in Tears in the Fence), Morag, Mervyn, Jinny and Ama, ending with a “bonus track” from Sharon.

We shall be taking a break in August. Back on Monday September 2nd with guest poet Pam Zinneman-Hope.

Meanwhile:

Creeping Toad is inviting amphibian-themed poems, stories and anecdotes.

Ama will be one of the readers in an all-day presentation of observational (morning) and environmental (afternoon) writing from Bath Writers and Artists on Saturday 20th July, 10-12.30 and 2-4.30 at BRLSI, Queen Square. Free entrance includes tea and cakes!

Ama’s sequence of poems “A Conference of Trees” will be performed by fourteen readers, with improvised music, at the opening of an exhibition of artists’ books at AceArts in Somerton on Friday 30th August. For an invitation, contact amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. This will be an abridged version. The full version will be performed outdoors during Somerset Art Weeks at Dove Studios on the evening of Saturday 28th September. Again, contact Ama for an invitation.

Thurs 3rd October 2-4 pm: Rachael, Morag, Michelle and Ama will be among those taking part in a reading of prison-themed poems organised by Rosie Jackson for National Poetry Day, Voices Inside B-Wing, Shepton Mallet Prison, BA4 5LU.

Each writer invents a world, and if they’re good, the reader can walk around on solid floorboards and not fall through. – Alisa Golden

The Art of Memory

No one is such an encyclopaedia of all things poetic, past present and future, as David Caddy!

So here we are

“It’s impossible to be an authentic writer without being a serious reader”
Bothayana al-Essa

David Caddy’s writing is clearly underpinned by some serious reading and high-level scholarship. His performance last Monday, mainly of not-yet-published poems, was spellbinding. Some of us may not have understood every word, but every poem came across powerfully and dramatically. There were moments of helpless laughter. There were moments of awe. There was awe mixed with laughter. It was a memorable evening.

During the open-mic we visited Scotland and entered a blue world with Morag, recalled a remarkable aunt in one of Andrew’s earliest poems and heard also his most recent poem, remembered Armistice Day and celebrated a charming eight-year-old with Mark, entered into memories with Rachael, heard a sonnet and a poem full of pregnant gaps from Jinny, experienced night terrors with Steve and a poignant moment of human contact with Michelle, enjoyed two of Rosie’s characteristically insightful poems, looked closely at a milk-jug and some trees with Ama, and finally heard David Caddy’s hair-raising latest poem, a true story from his local pub in Dorset.

Our next meeting will be at The Venue on Monday 1st July and the guest reader will be Sharon Larkin, from Cheltenham.

Rachael’s poem “Remembered” appeared in the Sunday Tribune, Michelle’s poem “The Validity of Existence” is published today on Algebra of Owls, and Mark has five poems in this elegant anthology:

Lansdown Poets

Finally, I have been asked to mention this year’s Oxford Brookes Poetry Competition and the Tears in the Fence Festival. Details below.

Oxford_Brookes_2019TitF 2019

Nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.
— e.e.cummings

The Dancing Boy

“What a powerful punch of  heart-felt magic was created. My head is still buzzing but more importantly I feel my emotions were rattled for the better.”

“I am very glad indeed – as so many others must be – that her Mum did go to Kilburn.”

Dancing Boy

Here it is! Michelle’s wonderful pamphlet, from which she read at our meeting last Monday.

The Dancing Boy takes us on a magical mystery tour through Michelle’s life, beginning at the beginning with the benefit of rueful hindsight in “Do not go to Kilburn”: a troubled mother is addressed with tenderness and understanding. Other family members are remembered with great compassion. “A Birth Journey in Nine Movements” navigates the highs and lows of pregnancy and birth and the emptiness afterwards: I will never again know such intimacy. Michelle’s heart is big enough to take in a traumatised mother/ an alcoholic father/ a child without an off-button, and she has mastered the art of writing without sentimentality about deeply emotional subjects. “When I rehearse my deathbed scene” is a glorious celebration: all prayers are offered in dance, all tears in song … there is a ban on taking umbrage. Michelle ended the evening with a wonderfully positive, affirmative short poem “Trust your life”.

I’ve recently read a first pamphlet by a skilled poet who relied, I think, rather heavily on writing-exercises. The poems are technically good but many of them lack soul. The poet’s second pamphlet is full of fire and bite and black humour, a thrilling read. I mention this because every poem in The Dancing Boy burns with authenticity and originality. Michelle has no need to go looking for subjects to write about. She trusted her own life and imagination to provide all that was needed to write this most remarkable first pamphlet.

It was my unhappy duty to report the death of Paul Rogers, who until recently was a regular at our meetings, a fine poet and an even better short-story writer. He will be sadly missed. I read his story “A Feast of Memory” from our latest anthology, “Feast”. I plan to give the last unsold copy to his family.

The open-mic spots included nightingale poems from Morag and Ama, memories of childhood from Rachael, Jinny and Sara, playful double-dactyls from Wendy, a new sonnet from Mervyn, laugh-out-loud poems from David K and Paul, and well-crafted thoughtful work from Andrew and Steve.

We welcomed David G back after a long absence. We hope he’ll bring poems next time he joins us!

Poetry Competitions

Wells: (Judged by Simon Armitage) – see website

A Poem for Europe: (Judged by Gillian Clarke and Vanessa Kisuule) – see website

Mere Festival: (Judged by Rosie Jackson) – see website

Are there enough gaps in your poem for the reader to get in?

– Jane Commane

 On Friday 26th April Radio 3’s The Verb concentrated on gaps. Ama’s climate-change poem from Magma #72 was beautifully read by Fiona Moore. You can hear it here. Or read it here.

Next month we’ll be meeting on Monday 3rd June at the usual time at The Venue in South Street, and the guest poet will be David Caddy, editor of Tears in the Fence and author of several volumes of poetry.

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.
Stéphane Mallarme

Posted by Ama Bolton 19 May 2019

Something in common

A lovely lively evening with lots of fun … really took to Ben Banyard … enchanting style with warmth and wit that come from the heart. 

ben banyard

Thanks to one of our regulars for summing up our April meeting so well. It is a help when I don’t have to write this alone!

Ben was a star. I think we all felt we had “something in common” with him. Many of those present identified with his fish-out-of-water experience at a posh school, which was the dubious benefit of passing the 11-plus. The parents among us felt for him as the first-time father of twins. His work is accessible and full of human warmth, and shows technical skill. Look at his poems’ last lines. He knows how to end a poem with just the phrase to startle or charm its way into the listener’s memory.

During the open mic sessions we heard some remarkable work from Mervyn, Rachael, Claire, Wendy, Ita, Paul W, David K, Andrew, Morag, Michelle, Jo, Ama and two very welcome newcomers, Sarah and Steve. It was an evening of happy juxtapositions and coincidences; time and again one poem chimed with another.

Our next meeting will be on May 13th at LOAF Bakehouse, 38 Market St, Wells BA5 2DS, 7.45 for 8pm. Fountain poet Michelle Diaz, winner of a recent poetry competition marking 70 years of the NHS, will be reading from her debut pamphlet The Dancing Boy.

NB This meeting will be on the second, not the first Monday of the month.

Whatever you think you might write, write.
– Michael Rosen on “My Teenage Diary”
, BBC Radio 4, 9th April 2019