Coming to the end of April

… which for some is National Poetry Writing Month. And Reading too, of course.

You have to read good poetry to write good poetry. Every single writer I know whose work is loved or respected will tell you the same thing. – Jo Bell

If you haven’t been following Jo Bell’s blog this month, I do recommend catching up with it here.

And don’t forget that tomorrow is the first Monday in May, and we’ll be meeting in the usual place to hear the lovely Claire Coleman and to share our own poems on and off the topic of Beltane.

April moon

The croggle of a froggle

Once again, big thanks to Just Ales for making us so welcome. Several copies of our collaborative birthday poem were on display!
Rosie Jackson was unfortunately not well yesterday, so we held our April meeting without a guest poet but with many splendid poems from our resident poets.
The evening began with Ama’s  “Legend”, a poem for six voices that was published in Obsessed with Pipework last year. Sara followed with two short poems about poultry from a sequence drawing on her former life as a smallholder in Norfolk. Next up was Wendy, who read a deliciously inventive piece about frogs, from which I have taken the title of this post. Mark read a poignant memory of comfortless schooldays and Morag shared close observations of a snake. Caroline’s first poem was an elegy for a friend, and Ewa’s began “Poetry can happen to you unexpectedly”, with an extempore translation into Polish. Ewan read a memory of childhood blackberrying and a topical war-poem. Paul’s first poem was both a true story and a topical political comment. Michelle read a heart-stopping poem about her father. Jo and Rachael read punchy new work – both of them are writing a poem a day this month for NaPoWriMo 2017. There are some excellent prompts and tips on Jo Bell’s blog.
During the interval, Jenny Smith from Wells Litfest told us about the Wells Poetry Competition which this year is to be judged by Gillian Clarke, former National Poet of Wales. Some of us bought Wendy’s charming Easter cards, painted and printed by her in support of wildlife charities. Beer, cider, tea and hot chocolate were served …
All of us read again in the second half, the most remarkable items being Rachael’s “Diana” about her sister, Pamela’s “Hooray for Henry” read in her absence by Ama, and Wendy’s rap “Tetrahydrocannabinol” a tour de force in what is for her a new genre.
We will have a presence at the Wells Festival of Food on Sunday October 8th. If there are enough suitable submissions this will include a new Fountain Poets Anthology (our third) which will concentrate on food-related topics. There will also be a poetry treasure-trail. Foody poems, ideas and offers of help on the day are very welcome!
Next month’s meeting will be at Just Ales on Monday 1st May, when the guest poet will be Claire Coleman, Ewa will be the chairperson and at Paul’s suggestion the optional topic will be Beltane, which happens also to be the theme of the next-but-one Cinnamon Press mini-competition, deadline 15 May.
I will end by sharing a quotation sent in recently by Pamela.

Poetry is speech made incandescent – Clive James

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The Persisters is a newly established network of feminist poets and artists. We are intersectional and inclusive. We are concerned about the turning tide in the rights of women and all minorities.

We are harnessing collective skills as poets, artists and wordsmiths to create community and combat the erosion of hard-won freedoms fought for and earned over many decades.

We want to celebrate, enjoy and secure those gains, and to support the struggle to extend those rights to all women. We believe in art as dialogue, celebration and resistance. We also believe in getting together for a party.

Join us for an afternoon of feminist poetry, discussion and belly-dancing from some of the West Country’s finest poets and performers, including Annie Freud and Rachael Boast. Entry is a recommended donation of £5, proceeds going to Refugee Women of Bristol (http://www.refugeewomenofbristol.org.uk/).
Sunday 9th April, 3-6pm at Roll for the Soul, 2 Quay St BS1 2JL
List of readers.

Zillah Bowes
Chaucer Cameron
Rachael Clyne
Pey Pey Oh
Jinny Fisher
Dawn Gorman
Hazel Hammond
Deborah Harvey
Rosie Jackson
Morag Kiziewicz
Rowena Knight
Katie Noonan
Ellie O’Connell
Helen Sheppard
Sue Sims
Shirley Wright

Simple magic for dark times

“We happy few” enjoyed a high-quality set from Tom Sastry last night. I’m hoping he will come again so that those suffering in the current flu epidemic (get well soon!) or with prior engagements will have a chance to hear him. He’s delightful, he’s approachable, and his work is just as engaging live as on the page. Tom’s first poem provides this post’s title (and, for me at least, a gospel or guidebook for the present time). You can find it, under a different title, here.

In the second half we had poems from Ewan, Jinny, Caroline, Wendy, Jo, Ama, and a bonus track from Tom.

Our next meeting will be at the same place (Just Ales, Market Street) and time (7.45 for 8) on Monday 3rd April, when the guest poet will be the wonderful Rosie Jackson.

You are part of every poem that you read except when the poem excludes you. Sometimes the poem is so polished and so beautiful it won’t let you in. It wants you to admire it.
– Beau Beausoleil

Edward Thomas tribute in Taunton tomorrow

I have received this message from Lionel Ward.

On April 4th at Brendon Books in Taunton, Graham Fawcett will talk about and perform the works of Edward Thomas, usually associated with I Remember Adlestrop. Thomas’s range of subject matter was eclectic (nature, travel, war) and his talent fostered and praised by Robert Frost. Time 7pm-8.30pm, cost £10. We hope you can join us.Please call to reserve/purchase tickets on 01823 337742.

The airy distance

Our guest poet at the February meeting was Linda Saunders, who captivated us with work from her latest collection A Touch on the Remote, and a few new poems including one from Project 2017, a Bath-based series of workshops that several of us have signed up for. My title is taken from Linda’s first poem, Thin Air, one of many on the theme of distance and remoteness. These are thoughtful, intelligent, well-crafted poems and I wholeheartedly recommend the collection.

Contributors to the “open-mouth” part of the evening (we have no microphone) included Ewan, Andrew, Morag, Claire, Sara, Rachael, Paul R, David C, Caroline, Wendy, Ama and Jane, our founder. Jo read two from her “Islands” series, Gillian performed a reedbed conversation between starlings, and Ewa read (a month late) a poem by Wislawa Szymborska Some people like poetry – (two per thousand, apparently!) Some of the poems we read this time commented on recent events across the pond.

Our next meeting will be at the same place (Just Ales in Market Street) and time (7.45 for 8) on Monday March 6th, when our guest will be the Bristol-based Laureate’s Choice poet Tom Sastry. Not to be missed! Come early to be sure of a seat.

A piece of writing can only be as good as its weakest word.
– Sue Boyle

Reminder!

Linda Saunders from Bath will be the guest poet at Just Ales (BA5 2DS) on Monday 6th February, 7.45 for 8pm. After the interval there will be time for everyone to read if they wish.

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Linda’s first full-length collection, Ways of Returning (Arrowhead Press), was short-listed for the Jerwood Aldeburgh prize: ‘[She] applies words to subtle experiences as a painter might use paint, for their texture, balance and tone, with attention to each brush stroke’ – Philip Gross. A second collection, The Watchers, was also published by Arrowhead: ‘These poems are beautifully structured, evocative and tender, with such a strong feel for the brilliance of each minute inside passing time’ – Helen Dunmore. Her most recent collection is A Touch on the Remote (Worple Press): ‘In these skilful, lyrical, often quiet poems, Saunders shows the world cherished by our watchfulness, life lived in rapt attention’ – Carrie Etter.