Out of the drizzly darkness last night, twelve poets gathered in Jinny’s warm and welcoming Salon des Arts. We have a tradition of reading – and sometimes discussing -other people’s poems at the first meeting of the year.
This time, though, we started with members who’d had work published, in print or on-line, since the December meeting.
Michelle read her Christmas poem Jesus is Pink, published recently at The Poetry Shed, Jinny read Boxing Day Party from Algebra of Owls, and Finding Home from Riggwelter. Rachael read She had never been good at reversing, forthcoming at Litworld, and Ama read January, which appeared in the last-ever print issue of Far-off Places.
Jo read two from The New Poetry, a hugely influential anthology published in 1962: George MacBeth’s eerily prophetic Bedtime Story, and Peter Redgrove’s The Archaeologist. David’s two readings came from The Beat Book, an anthology of writings from the Beat generation. His choices were Poem in Praise of my Husband by Diane Di Prima, and an entertaining extract from Joanne Kyger’s journal.
Andrew read The Bell, by Jay Ramsay, who sadly died just over a week ago. Many of us have fond memories of him. Andrew’s second reading was from Out of the Wreckage, by George Monbiot. In this context, Rachael reminded us of an XR funeral procession to take place on Saturday 12th January at 12 noon in Glastonbury High Street.
Jinny’s choices were School Run, by Katherine Maris, and Dear Mr Gove, by Kim Moore. Beth read Grumpy Day from The Dog at the End of the World by Helen Harvey, and Scything, from Blood Earth and Medicine by Somerset poet James Crowden.
Clare Shaw was chosen by Michelle, too. She read Love Poem from the collection Straight Ahead. Michelle’s other choice was a beautifully dark poem from Fiona Benson’s Vertigo and Ghost. I did make a note of the title, but I can’t decipher it now!
Mervyn read The Way Things Are, by the patron saint of poetry (aka Roger McGough), and Dylan Thomas’s villanelle Do not go Gentle into that Good Night – read here by the poet himself. Lydia chose Auden’s Stop all the clocks, and read it beautifully. In the second half she read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. It’s good to hear again the familiar poems as well as those that are new to us.
Morag was fortunate in receiving Leonard Cohen’s last collection, The Flame, as a Christmas present. She read Never gave Nobody Trouble and What is Coming, a prophetic poem from 2003.
Gillian read two poems by one of Canada’s most influential writers Alden Nowlan: It’s Good to be Here and The Social Worker’s Poem. For Nowlan, poetry was “all about people, and to hell with literature.” He deserves to be better known over here.
Altogether it was a convivial, thoughtful and entertaining evening. Thank you Jinny for hosting the meeting.
Michelle’s debut pamphlet “The Dancing Boy” (Against the Grain Press) is about to be launched! Firstly at Labyrinth bookshop in Glastonbury High Street on 1st February, also in a joint launch with Rachael and Jinny, in Glastonbury, 29th March, and at the Fountain Poets’ meeting on 13th May.
Jo will be one of the poets reading at the Berkeley Square Poetry Revue in Bristol on 29th January, 8.30 – 10.30pm.
This post is quite long enough! I’ll write soon about our next meeting (Feb 4th at The Venue in Wells, with two Hedgehog Press poets).