Tag Archives: Ama Bolton

Bridgwater Quayside Festival now on You-tube

Find it here. Poems from Morag, David K, Rachael and me (Ama), and a marvellous new film-poem by Andrew, specially written for the festival. Also a 20-minute Somerset Libraries podcast in which I read a poem by our founder, Jane Williams, Rachael and David N. read their locally-themed poems, and we chat about inspiration and collaboration.

Moot 5

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Some (good) news at last

Hello again. I hope you’re well, and writing.

A few Wells Fountain Poets (Andrew Henon, Mo Kiziewicz, Rachael Clyne, David Niven, David Ketelby and me, Ama Bolton) have been invited to contribute to next month’s Bridgwater Quayside virtual Festival (17-19 July). Another of our members, storyteller Beth Webb, will be contributing separately. Here is a preview of Andrew’s timely and powerful video-poem. Andrew is also participating in the Somerset Film project Hello World, and I urge you to watch the interview and two of his short video-poems on their website.

We have had to cancel our April, May and June meetings and will not be meeting in July or August, but I hope to be able to re-book all the cancelled guest poets next year.

Just a quick reminder of some competitions closing soon: Wells Litfest competition closes 30th June, Penfro Festival Competition closes 1st July, Ledbury Festival competition closes 16th July and Winchester Poetry Prize closes 31st July. Many more on the Poetry Kit website.

“It is the task of a lifetime. You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.” – Anne Carson on writing poetry

 

 

Something like a man

John Dust by John Duffin
At our meeting last month, Louise Warren read to us, mostly from her impressive pamphlet John Dust: part memoir, part folklore, part fiction, inspired by the history and mystery of Somerset, where she grew up.
John Dust, she told us, came to her when her physical connection with Somerset ceased. He is a trickster, a demon lover, a spirit of the Levels, a lord of misrule – unpredictable, subversive and elusive as Jack O’Lantern or Jumping Jack Flash – but he is human, too, “face like a neighbour.”
This is a powerful body of work, rich in the subtle music of rhythm and repetition, and is aptly illustrated by John Duffin. Louise is an excellent performer, reciting many of her poems from memory. Her voice comes back to me as I read them from the page.
We had some super poems during the open-mic too, and welcomed four newcomers to the group. Martin read Nude descending a staircase #2 from The Interpreter’s House, Rachael read Nameless, which appeared recently in The Beach Hut. I read Small Talk from a recent anthology of writing and photos, Planet in Peril, from Fly on the Wall Press.
At our next meeting, on Monday 6th January, you are invited to bring a couple of poems (not your own) that you enjoy, and to tell us something about them. We’ll be meeting at Jinny’s house, off Bove Town in Glastonbury. If you haven’t been there before, please ask me for directions (amabolton at hotmail dot com.)
Jinny was interviewed recently on Radio Somerset, and Rachael was interviewed on Glastonbury FM.
Jinny and I were on Allan Trinder’s Glastonbury FM community Show on Thurs 19 December, 4-5pm, starting about 19m 15s. The programme is available for a week on the website: https://www.gfm.org.uk/listen-again/
This post was written by Ama Bolton.

Obsession is the key that unlocks treasures. – Pascale Petit on Twitter

Time’s mouth is hungry

Dawn Gorman

Our guest poet on October 7th was Dawn Gorman, winner of the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize 2019, with a wonderful reading, mostly  from her third pamphlet Instead, Let us Say. The poems were concerned with time and memory and forgetting. With being in the moment, observing, and making deep connections. To read and reread this collection is richly rewarding.

Instead Let us Say

Poems in the open-mic included Andrew Henon’s Care Plan, published in Tears in the Fence, and Ama’s The Bad-news Bird, published in the Winchester Prize anthology. We heard some very striking poems from newcomer Lindsey, from Jinny, Michelle, Rachael, Claire, Morag, Wendy and Steve. There were poems from the performance in B-wing that some of us took part in on National Poetry Day, Oct 3rd. You might recognise some faces here!

Poets in B-Wing small

Grief (personal, social, political and environmental) seemed to emerge as a dominant theme, but humour and empathy were present too.

Coming up on the first weekend of November, the Festival of Death and Dying, with, among many other events, a writing workshop in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells on the Saturday morning, and spoken word and song with Rachael, Jinny and others in the Shepton Art Bank on Saturday evening.

Coming up on 20th November, Beth Webb reads The Death of Arthur:

Death of Arthur

News of members’ and friends’ successes – probably not complete!

Congratulations to Wendy Nicholson, who won first prize for the children’s book competition and Deborah Harvey who was short-listed for the poetry prize at Wells Litfest. A huge cheer for David Ketelby who was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. In the Winchester Poetry Prize, Tom Sastry was highly commended and Ama Bolton was commended. Ama also had an “honourable mention” in the Poem for Europe competition.

I have been asked to mention the Snowdrop Festival CompetitionCelebrate snowdrops and the world of The Snowdrop King! 2020 Judge: Jane Draycott, http://www.janedraycott.org.uk Theme: Snowdrops, the James Allen story and Monochrome & Green. Line Limit: 30 lines. Three age categories: 11 & Under, 12 to 17, 18 & Over. Prizes for each category. Entry fees: free to under 18s, £4 per entry 18 & over.
Closes 31st December 2019, 11pm.

And of course don’t forget the National Poetry Competition, deadline 31 October. Poetry Society members get a second entry free.

Our next meeting will be on November 4th at The Venue, 42 South Street, Wells BA5 1SL, at the usual time of 7.45 for 8pm. Our guest poet is Chrissy Banks from Exeter, introducing her new collection  The Uninvited, from Indigo Dreams.

ChrissyBanks

Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person’s life.
Eavan Boland

 

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

No Methodist need apply

Local journalist, editor and archivist Clare Blackmore came to our March meeting  with treasures she has painstakingly unearthed in the archives of local papers and in private collections: about 150 poems by the unschooled but by no means uneducated Victorian poet William Catcott. William was a working man, by turns wool-comber, miner, farm labourer and baker. An observant and thoughtful man, he wrote of rural life and work, love, friendship and local events. Some of his work shows  a passion for justice, standing up for the poor and oppressed — including animals — and criticising the careless and greedy oppressors, the unsoiled drowsy drones. “John Cross” is a passionate defence of a Dorset labourer who kept his family on fourteen pence a day and was sent to prison for stealing firewood. “No Methodist need apply” chides a local bigot who advertised anonymously for a maid-of-all-work. Many of the poems take joy in the beauty of nature. This reading of a dozen poems was a fascinating introduction to the remarkable work of a local man who could so easily have been forgotten by posterity. I do recommend this book, “William Catcott: The Complete Works”.

Complete Works

During the open-mic section we enjoyed poems from Tom Sastry, Wendy Nicholson, David Cloke, Diana Hill, Paul Watkin, Lydia Harley-Tomlinson, Mervyn Lickfold, Michelle Diaz, Jinny Fisher, Rachael Clyne and Ama Bolton.

Jinny, Michelle and Rachael will be reading from their recently-published books at the Avalon Room, 2-4 High Street, Glastonbury BA6 9DU, next Friday, 29th March, 7.30-9.30. Do support them if you can.

Our guest at the 1st April meeting will be Ben Banyard from Portishead. His poems have appeared in Popshot, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Broadsheet, Sarasvati, The Dawntreader, London Grip, The Open Mouse and many others.

His debut pamphlet Communing and a full  collection, We Are All Lucky, are published by Indigo Dreams. Ben also edits Clear Poetry, a blog publishing accessible contemporary work by newcomers and old hands alike.

We’ll be meeting once again upstairs at The Venue in South Street, 7.45 for 8pm.

I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers. – John Berryman

They’re felling forests while you sleep

Hostile Environment

I’ll begin with some unsolicited feedback! (Thanks for writing.)

Really lovely meeting, thank you.
Such an engaged audience … such a pleasure to hear some highly accomplished poems.
Just to say what an excellent evening it was … Loved the poems – so much talent all round –  I love the diversity … Also took to Nigel Kent and Sarah Thomson – really fascinating idea – was sceptical at first when read about it but, as so often happens, was won over completely on seeing how it is done.
It was a real pleasure and I loved hearing all of the poetic contributions – there is so much talent in your group.

Our last meeting, on February 4th, was at The Venue in South Street. There was a record turn-out (21) in spite of the recent wintry weather, which had caused a breakdown of the Venue’s central heating. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and kept reasonably warm.

We welcomed guest poets Nigel Kent and Sarah Thomson, from Evesham and Bristol, whose collaborative pamphlet A Hostile Environment was published in January by the Hedgehog Press.

In the summer of 2018 the story broke of the mistreatment of members of the Windrush generation. As a consequence of the government’s attempts to reduce immigration, it transpired that British subjects had been wrongly deported and detained, lost their jobs and homes, and were denied benefits and medical treatment. This story precipitated a poetry conversation.

The result was a mini-pamphlet that punches well above its weight. In just six poems it moves from bureaucratic oppression to the suppression of weeds, to deforestation and extinction,  to the abuse of the democratic process, to a parable of insects.

In the second half, Sarah and Nigel read a second group of poems that evolved in a similar way – but beginning this time with Quantum theory! There followed a lively discussion of the process.

It was a treat to have Rosie Jackson and Dawn Gorman with us. They contributed some truly remarkable poems to the open-mic part of the evening. Ita, Maggie, Ting and Steve were valued newcomers whom I hope we’ll hear more from. Rachael and Jinny have work in the latest issue of Lighthouse, Rachael read a poem published in Riggwelter and Ama read her prizewinning poem from the Cannon Sonnet or Not Competition.

Other readers were Mervyn, Beth, Michelle, Ewa, Paul, Mark and Diana. It’s always a pleasure to hear their work.

A note from Tom Sastry: Bristol Poetry Festival 2019 starts Friday 22nd March. Details will be posted here: https://www.facebook.com/lyrabristol/

And some rather exciting news: Wells Fountain Poets are now a Poetry Society Stanza.

The next meeting, at The Venue once again, will feature local journalist Clare Blackmore, who has recently published a book of the complete works of William Catcott, the Baker Bard of Wells. She writes:

William was born in West Horrington but lived and worked as a baker in Tor Street in Wells. As he worked and pushed his bread cart around the streets of Wells and surrounding villages to sell his bread he wrote poetry based on the nature, people and social conditions that he saw in Mid Victorian Wells. I have found over 120 of his beautiful poems.

“When you feel you’ve got a line that’s pulling a lot of emotional freight with it, then you know you’ve probably started a poem.” – Harvey Shapiro