Open-mic in Taunton

John Stuart of Fire River Poets has contacted me about an open-mic event in Taunton this coming Thursday (Aug 3rd) at the Creative Innovation Centre, Paul Street, Taunton TA1 3PF, starting at 8pm. Doors open 7.30. Cost £5.

There are still slots available for poets who would like the opportunity to read a few of their poems. Just reply to John (wj.stuart@sky.com) if you would like to book yourself in.

Bollard, dear boy

Annie Fisher

Our guest this month was Annie Fisher – warm, witty and wise. She delighted us all with a reading from her Happenstance pamphlet Infinite in all Perfections. She warmed up with a couple of limericks, followed by Bollard. The highlight of the evening was Annie’s singing of Tom Tafferty went Dancing, which I’d heard before without knowing that Tom is Annie’s grandson. The Welsh, she told us, have a saying that true love comes with the first grandchild. Her song illustrates the truth of this!

Annie Fisher is a story-teller, with a background in primary education. Her debut poetry pamphlet draws on memories of a Catholic upbringing, as well as work in schools.

She knows about loss of faith, and loss of face, knows from the inside how confidence gets lost—and reasserted.

This is a poet with an eye for mischief, an ear for rhythm and form, delicious deftness of touch, and incorrigible joy in the process of creation.

– Helena Nelson

Annie book
Many copies of Annie’s pamphlet were bought and signed during the interval, after which we had the usual “open-mouth” session. Ewan, whose book is now on sale in the Cathedral shop, read, among others, a fine new poem The Sea.

It was good to have Gill back with us. She read her startling new poem Wake-up Call. Phil, who is new to our group (welcome. Phil!) read a couple of well-crafted pieces, and he was followed by Rachael with two new poems, one an affectionate tribute to Dylan Thomas in the centenary of his birth. Then Michelle read two poems, one of which had appeared on Amaryllis that very morning.

Paul’s first poem told a shocking true story, and his second was a wry look at HR, The Devil’s Department. Diana read Portrait of a Poet and the second Triolet of the evening, the first being Annie’s So Much. This is such a compact and interesting form that I’m going to suggest we give it a try during the summer break, and bring one to the September meeting. As islands will feature prominently in Jo’s reading, a triolet about an island would be just perfect!

Jo read two of her compositions for NaPoWriMo – one deliciously surreal, the other a clever and topical piece of irony. Ama then read  a poem that drew parallels between one set of her grandparents and the Odysseus/Penelope story. Her Dreams in Upper Silesia appears in the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing. Have a look at their rather entertaining short video about the kind of submissions they are – and are not – looking for.

Annie rounded off the session with her tender poem Fledgling and the laugh-out-loud Multiple-choice Holiday Postcard – a fitting end to the evening and to the current season.

We’ll be taking a break in August and meet again on Monday September 4th, when the featured poet will be our own Jo Waterworth.

Ama will have some mini-pamphlets and a micro-pamphlet on sale at “A Book in the Hand”, an exhibition of handmade books/artists’ books at ACEarts in Somerton – see flyer below.
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My advice for a young poet would be read everything and then do what you want.
– Charles Simic, in interview with Peter Mishler.

Spelunking the Worldwide Web

,

It means the exploration of caves. But of course you knew that.

This is the first line of Gram Joel Davies’s poem Earth, from his recently-published and Forward-Prize-nominated first collection.

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Gram was our guest poet last week. What a treat! Boldly adventurous use of language, a rich imagination and a loving and observant eye make for superb writing. Gram read in a way that enhanced our appreciation: unhurriedly, clearly and expressively.

Contributions from the floor in the second half came from Mark. Ama, Jo, Morag, Wendy, Rachael, Michelle, Jinny, Paul, Diana and Jan, and a final bonus-poem from Gram. Loss was the theme of several poignant poems; loss of a child, of the opportunity to be a parent, of a partner through death, divorce or annulment, loss of a friend, loss of trust, loss of habitat. Mark and Jan provided a joyful counterbalance with, respectively, an outpouring of gratitude and a glorious psalm of praise to a bus-route!

Announcements:

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Jo will be launching her latest pamphlet Paper Islands at Ace Gallery in Somerton on 17th June. Jo will be our featured poet at the December meeting.

Rachael will be reading in Bath with Tom Sastry on Wednesday 28th June at St James Wine Vaults.

Jinny had a reading with Ken Beevers at Poetry Island in Torquay last Thursday. Jinny also has a poem forthcoming on the Amaryllis website, and one in print in Tears in the Fence.

Ama has a poem in the current issue of Mslexia, and one forthcoming in the July issue of Right Hand Pointing.

And lastly, please, if you have not already done so, send in your food-themed poems for our newest anthology “Feast”, to be launched at the Wells Food Festival on Sunday 8th October. Anyone who has ever read with our group is eligible, and previously published work is fine. Big thanks to those who have already submitted. To the rest of you – please don’t leave it until the last moment because I am going to be Very Busy with other matters in September! I recommend taking to heart the advice at the bottom of this post.

Our next meeting will be n the Rose and Crown’s cocktail bar on July 3rd, when our guest will be the lovely Annie Fisher, of whom Helens Nelson has written, “Annie Fisher is a story-teller, with a background in primary education. Her debut poetry pamphlet draws on memories of a Catholic upbringing, as well as work in schools.
She knows about loss of faith, and loss of face, knows from the inside how confidence gets lost—and reasserted.
This is a poet with an eye for mischief, an ear for rhythm and form, delicious deftness of touch, and incorrigible joy in the process of creation.”

Compression is the desire not for density, but for the words to be spare enough that meaning can occur in emptiness. – Ariana Nadia Nash

 

Some competition deadlines coming up!

Three notifications have come in recently.

Stephen Boyce writes: We’re delighted that TS Eliot Prize winner, Sarah Howe, is this year’s guest judge for the Winchester Poetry Prize and will read all entries. Once again there will be a prize-giving reading – at a special poetry day on Saturday 14 October – and winning and commended poems will be published in a collectable volume. Closing Date 31 July. Full details here.

Jackie Clementines writes: Somerfest (Taunton) and LiveArts are collaborating this year: the Somerset Slam will be live on the music stage in Goodland’s Gardens in Taunton as a programmed part of Somerfest starting at 11am on 17th June 2017. We are looking for poets to take part in this event and crown Somerset’s first Slam Champion. You do not need to be from Somerset to compete…. but we did not want to just bus in a group of well-established slammers from London and put on a ‘show-slam.’ We want every voice in Somerset to be encouraged to come forth! If you’re interested in booking a 3-minute slot, contact Jackie at jackieclementines@gmail.com https://somerfest.net/

Hilda Sheehan writes: There’s still time to send your poems to Battered Moons Poetry Competition before it closes on June 30th. Malika Booker is the guest judge and, along with Cristina Newton, she’ll be reading all the poems. You can send your poems by post or on-line. To find out more or send on-line visit Battered Moons.

Turn the world upside-down for love

What we do when we read aloud is to give the poem a new life off the page. If we do this well, either alone in a room or for an audience, we can make the poem memorable. Last Monday our guest was Claire Coleman, who is a fine writer and an excellent reader. She treated us to a feast of fourteen highly nourishing poems. Many of them concerned food – growing it, preparing it, and the effects of not having it. “Ellipsis” is a tender, poignant poem of memory-loss that was short-listed for the National Memory Day competition  recently. My title is taken from “Two-person High”, published in the anthology The Listening Walk. I first heard this wonderful love-poem some years ago. Claire brought it to life and and it has stayed with me. Claire finished her set with the uplifting “One Way” from The Book of Love and Loss, which also includes work by some of the biggest names on the contemporary writing scene.

The second half was chaired by Ewa, who told us that May is the most-loved month in Poland. We heard seasonal poems from Mark, Sara, Wendy, Ewa and Ama, and from Ewan a reflection on what poetry is for. Rosalie read a poem addressed to Marcel Proust, Jo read one from her forthcoming pamphlet, and we heard new work from Rachael and Jinny.

Appreciation of spoken poetry does depend on being able to hear it! Just Ales has become a deservedly popular pub, but the noise level is a problem for us. Next month we shall be meeting in the Cocktail Bar at the back of the Rose and Crown, St John Street, Wells (BA5 1SW) on Monday June 5th, 7.45 for 8pm start. The featured poet on this occasion will be Gram Joel Davies.

Gram lives in Somerset and reads with Juncture 25 Poets. His collection  Bolt Down This Earth has recently been published by V. Press  and has already been nominated for the Forward Prize.

There are things your eyes will miss that your ears will not.
– Kate Tempest (on Radio 4 this week), on the importance of reading poetry aloud.