The Mysterious Everyday

On a rather damp Monday evening we met in Jinny’s lovely salon in Glastonbury to hear  the wonderful Tom Sastry:
“After losing the ability not to see things we discover the secret life of the laundrette. We witness death and resurrection on the Bakerloo Line. An old dictator illustrates the principle of uncertainty whilst a country sliding towards tyranny distracts itself by watching Emmerdale and Premiership football. The familiar is continually disrupted by the sudden shock of alienation until we find a home where we are not alien.” That sums it up pretty well!
And after an interesting conversation on poetics and politics in the interval, we shared our poems on and off the topic of “Stars”. David Ketelby and Phil Genoux read with us for the first time and we are hoping to hear more from them. It was one of our best evenings yet, and we look forward to more sessions in this venue. David will be one of the selected performers, along with Jane Williams our founder, at the Wells Litfest event “Write up! Speak up!” on Sunday 15th October at 7pm – tickets available here.

Congratulations to Jinny, who has a poem in The Broadsheet (launched last week in Exeter) and to Morag who was short-listed. Jinny’s poem “The Art of Staying Dry” appeared on Amaryllis on Monday morning. Also to Michelle who is on the short-list for the Mere Prize and Rachael, who is on the short-list for the Wells Prize. The Mere award ceremony will be at 3pm on Sunday 15th October and the Wells reading and prizegiving  will be at the same time on the same day in the Bishop’s Palace. Booklets containing all the short listed poems are now for sale at Waterstones and in the Bishop’s Palace Shop.

Ama was short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon prize and the Poetry Space competition, and has once again been placed 3rd in Swindon Poetry Festival’s Battered Moons competition.

Tom will be helping to launch “One for the Road”, an anthology from Smith/Doorstop, at a free event in Cheltenham on Saturday 6th October. Also next weekend is Swindon Poetry Festival: look out for Jinny and the Poetry Pram!

Please join us for a Poetry Picnic at Wells Food Festival, Sunday 8th October from 11am onwards in and around the Market Place, beside the Palace moat and in the Recreation Ground/Bishop’s Barn area. There will be a peripatetic Poetry Picnic-hamper full of our new anthology “Feast”!


Next month we shall be meeting at  the Cheeseyard Cafe, West Horrington, Wells BA5 3ED, on Monday November 6th, 7.45 for 8pm start. This is a really delightful place a couple of miles north of Wells on the old Bath road. Coming from Wells, turn left opposite Horrington School and then turn right into the Cheeseyard. There is plenty of parking, and Lindsay will be serving hot and cold drinks and cake. Please make it worth her while by not just asking for a glass of water! There will not be any other customers, just us. The guest poet on this occasion will be Rosie Jackson..

 Rosie’s particular passions are exploring the links between writing and visual arts, and the role of the creative arts in health. Her pamphlet What the Ground Holds was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2014 and her full collection, The Light Box, and a memoir, The Glass Mother, both came out last year. She is a member of Bath’s Knucklebone poets and has performed her work widely. She runs writing workshops both in UK and abroad.
Rosie recently won 1st AND 2nd prizes in the Berkshire Poetry Competition, and has even more recently won first prize in the prestigious Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition.


“A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the – not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps.” –  Paul Celan


we all become islanders

Lewis by Dave

Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Photo by David Robinson.

What a splendid evening we had on Monday, seventeen of us crammed into the cocktail bar! Had so many of the regular attenders not been on holiday we might have been sitting on one another’s laps.

It was a privilege to hear Jo Waterworth’s heartfelt performance of some of the poems in her latest pamphlet, “Paper Islands”. Islands on and off the map, legendary islands and islands of the imagination: Jo took us on a cruise round this whole archipelago. My title is taken from Jo’s poem Compass. It was lovely to have Jane with us and to hear her riotous new poem for “Write up! Speak up!” at Wells Litfest next month. And it was a pleasure to welcome newcomers David, Izzy, Ann and Caroline (who contributed a song as well as a poem), and to see Dearbhaile after a long absence.

After some discussion in the interval we agreed to take up Jinny’s kind offer to meet on Monday October 2nd at her house in Glastonbury. If you would like to come, and are not on the e-mailing list, ask for directions from amabolton at hotmail dot com. The guest poet in October will be Tom Sastry Laureate’s Choice 2016. Tom will be reading a different and complementary set at Tea and Chi in Glastonbury on Thursday 28th September, starting at 6.45. We look forward to both readings. At Caroline’s suggestion, the optional theme for contributions to the 2nd October meeting is Stars.

What have our members been up to over the summer? Congratulations to Rachael, who has a poem in the latest issue of “Obsessed with Pipework” and has been short-listed for the Wells Festival poetry prize. Wendy (who contributed not one but two triolets on Monday) has a poem on Poetry24, Jinny’s poem Retro-focus (one of two prose-poems she read on Monday evening) is in the latest issue of “Tears in the Fence”, and Rosalie Challis has a poem in the Poetry Space Autumn Showcase. Ama has a poem in the newest anthology from Cinnamon Press and has been short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon poetry prize. Her long poem “Between two Moons” in her hand-made book commissioned for Amazing Space II can be seen during Somerset Art Weeks (23 Sept-8 Oct) at Dove Studios, Venue 21, page 16 in the guide. Photos of the book are here. Apologies to anyone whose achievements have been omitted from this list. Please send me your news so that we can celebrate with you here!

Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.
– Derek Walcott

Sanday 2008

Sanday, Orkney. Photo by Ama Bolton.

First meeting of autumn

The Fountain Poets will meet again on Monday 4th September in the Cocktail Bar at the rear of the Rose and Crown in St John Street, 7.30 for 8pm.

The featured poet will be Jo Waterworth., pictured below at the recent launch of her latest pamphlet, Paper Islands.

Jo at ACE

At our last meeting we heard two triolets. If you have an island-themed poem, a triolet or, ideally, a triolet about an island, please bring it to read. If not, bring a couple of poems you’ve written during the summer break. Or just one if it’s very long …


A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
-Jorge Luis Borges (24 Aug 1899-1986)

Lindsay Clarke presents Hermes


A message from Lindsay Clarke:

In case any of you are interested I’m just putting the word out that at 7.30 on Wed Sept 6th I’ll be giving a power-poem presentation on HERMES as the Archetype of the Imagination and the Poetic Basis of Mind (based on my collection A DANCE WITH HERMES) at BRSLI in Queen’s Square Bath. It would be good to see you there, and please pass on the info to any friends who you think might like to come along.

This year’s TITF festival coming soon!

TITF poster


This year’s Festival weekend will be from Friday, 15th September 2017 to Sunday, 17th September at The White Horse and Village Hall, Stourpaine. We are looking forward to another invigorating, intimate and inspiring weekend. The Festival’s theme is the politics of engagement. We shall be recalling and discussing the impact of Barry MacSweeney and Irina Ratushinskaya, both of whom read twice at our Festivals in the 1990s. At this time of extreme global political upheaval, our Festival aims to explore the lived experience of repression, austerity measures, migration, censorship and radical poetry.

Amongst the confirmed participants, so far, are Melisande Fitzsimons, Clive Gresswell, Sophie Herxheimer, Ric Hool, Norman Jope, Zibahoo Karbassi, Camilla Nelson, Kate Noakes, Luke Roberts, Steve Spence, Maria Stadnicka.

Open Readings featuring Valerie Bridge, Lesley Burt, Stephen Daniels, Richard Foreman, Gerald Killingworth, Peter King, Aidan Semmens, Charles Wilkinson

Friday 15 September
Poetry Supper Evening at the White Horse restaurant, Stourpaine
Please let David know if you wish to have supper so that places can be booked in advance.
Supper from 6.00 pm
Readings from 7.30 pm MC: Morag Kiziewicz
with Mandy Pannett, Sophie Herxheimer
Open Readings featuring ….

Saturday 16 September
Stourpaine Village Hall

Arrive and welcome 9.00 am
9.30 – 11.00 MC: Andrew Henon
Opening address by David Caddy on the ‘politics of engagement’.
Irina Ratushinskaya presentation featuring Valerie Bridge reading in Russian, Morag Kiziewicz reading in English. Discussion on the poetry of political testimony.
11.00 – 11.15 break
11.15 – 12.30 Steve Spence, Melisande Fitzsimons, and open readings

12.30 – 2pm Lunch White Horse or by Village Hall
2.00 – 3.15 MC: Valerie Bridge
Clive Gresswell, discussion, Zibahoo Karbassi in Persian and English
3.15 – 3.30 break
3.30 – 5.30 Maria Stadnicka, Kate Noakes, Luke Roberts, Norman Jope on the Politics of Plymouth Poetry, and open readings

6.00 – 7.20 Supper at White Horse

7.30 – 8.50 MC: David Caddy
Ric Hool, Camilla Nelson and Luke Roberts on Seditious Things. Discussion on the poetry and legacy of Barry MacSweeney.

Sunday 17 September

9.00 am welcome
9.30 – 11.00 Discussion with Maria Stadnicka, Luke Roberts, Zibahoo Karbassi
11.00 – 11.15 break
11.15 – 12 noon Tears in the Fence Workshop Group Bird and Migration Poems

More details to follow.

We welcome everyone who wishes to read at the Festival. Please let us know if you with to book a slot.

There will be a Festival bookstall. Please bring your books, pamphlets and magazines. Lists of Bookstall items should be emailed in advance to Richard Foreman at

There are a considerable number of guest houses and B&Bs in and around Stourpaine and Blandford Forum. We recommend using Airbnb and the search engines available at, and Our nearest local hotels are the Crown Hotel, Blandford Forum, Royal Chase Hotel, Shaftesbury and King’s Head Hotel, Wimborne Minster. Please book early as accommodation is being rapidly booked in this area of outstanding natural beauty.

Weekend Tickets are £25
Saturday Tickets are £15
Sunday Tickets are £10

Please book through the magazine’s website. Go to the Subscribe / Donate page from the menu and pay through the Donate button.

Alternatively, send a cheque, made out to Tears in the Fence, to David Caddy Portman Lodge, Durweston, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 0QA.

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 ( 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.

My advice for a young poet would be read everything and then do what you want.
– Charles Simic, in interview with Peter Mishler.