Tag Archives: Andrew Henon

Much like crime, poetry doesn’t pay

Melanie B

Our guest this month was Melanie Branton from Bristol.
She was wonderful: tender, honest, funny, incisive and alert to the subtle layers of potential in everyday words and phrases. She emerged onto the performance poetry scene only a few years ago but already has a pamphlet published last year by Oversteps, with a second coming out later this year. If you missed her, you can find her on You-tube

You can read a short bio and a poem that illustrates her characteristically inventive use of simile here. Melanie’s legs are really much longer than they look in the accompanying photo.

In the second half we heard poems from Izzy, Sara, Diana (who read one by the sorely-missed Irene Benson), Chris (recently back from teaching in Hungary), Michelle, Rachael, Morag, Andy, Ama and Jinny, who read her poem “The Pattern”, which was commended in a recent competition.

Melanie finished the evening with “Manifesto”, of which this post’s title is the first line.

Latest news: congratulations to Rachael, who has a Food-bank Poem in The Poetry Shed.
And Ama will be performing her sequence “Warp” at BRLSI as part of an Odyssey-themed afternoon on Saturday 28th July. The readings start at 2pm. Free admission. Full programme here.

We shall be meeting again after the summer break. To know when and where, keep an eye on the “Who, what, where, when” page, or join the mailing list by emailing Ama at amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com.

When I was fourteen I had a conversation at a Boy Scout meeting with a fellow who seemed ancient to me; he was sixteen. I was bragging and told him that I had written a poem during study hall at high school that day. He asked—I can see him standing there—You write poems? and I said, Yes, do you? and he said, in the most solemn voice imaginable, It is my profession. He had just quit high school to devote himself to writing poetry full time! I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. It was like that scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Clyde says, We rob banks. Poetry is like robbing banks. 
– Donald Hall (died 23 June 2018)

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Worm made flesh

Deborah Harvey gave us a magnificent reading at our last meeting, in Jinny’s lovely salon in Glastonbury.  Her work expresses the humour and pathos of life, and shows an observant eye for nature and landscape and a keen sense of history. In addition, she has great technical skill.

This post’s title is taken from Deborah’s first poem, ‘Old Moulder’s Almanac’, which she described as “a mad astrological calendar”. She ended her first set with a breathtaking and very moving wreath of sonnets written since the recent death of her father.

Her wide-ranging second set took us from Bristol, the Quantocks, Chew Valley Lake and Dartmoor to Leningrad and Chernobyl by way of High Wycombe. 

Poems from the floor included three from the new issue of Tears in the Fence, from Andrew, Rosie and Morag. Other readers were Rachael, Ama, Izzy, Ewa, Michelle, Wendy (a Creative Writing prizewinner in the recent Mid-Somerset Festival) and Sara.
Our next meeting will be on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May, 7.45 to 9.45 pm at Loaf Bakehouse, 38 Market Street Wells BA5 2DS. Please arrive in time to order your drinks before we start at 8pm. The guest will be the young poet, playwright and actor Conor Whelan from Bath.
Other Poetry News
Friday 13 July at 11pm (past my bed-time!) at The Globe in Priest Row: The first ever Wells Theatre Festival Poetry Slam, being run by the Hip Yak Poetry Shack. A quick-fire knock-out incredibly cuddly poetry competition, featuring up to 8 slammers. Prepare for fun, friendly and exhilarating poetry for both audience and poets, hosted by national spoken word stars Jonny Fluffypunk, Chris Hammond and Liv Torc. Poets will be competing for a feature slot at Sunday’s Hip Yak Poetry Session plus the admiration of their friends.  Everyone welcome, new and old. The judges will also be performing feature slots before and after the slam.
Wells Litfest: time to think about your competition entry! The deadline for all four competitions is 30June, and the festival itself takes place in October.
WFL poster1
WFL postrer2

Perfect for persistent abrasion

We started our last meeting with a short but illuminating Q&A session with the featured poet, Jinny Fisher. She started writing poetry ten years ago in response to the death of a friend, and since then she has had many poems published in both print and on-line journals. As always, it was good to hear a set of poems by one writer. Jinny’s are highly-evolved, polished and sparkling with a rather dark humour. Preoccupations that her work reveals include control and escape, boundaries, therapy, loss, science, photography and woodwork.

My title is taken from Jinny’s first published poem, Deep Cleaning, which appeared in The Interpreter’s House in 2015. She finished her set with a topical, political poem.

After the interval we heard poems from Paul W (with visual aid – a brand-new pair of high-tech running shoes), Michelle, Rachael, Morag, Andrew, Karin, David C, Mark, Wendy, David K and Ama, with a final bonus track from Jinny

News: Morag has a regular column, “Electric Blue” in Tears in the Fence, Michelle has a poem in Prole, Rachael has poems forthcoming in Tears in the Fence, Unpsychology and Prole, and has the distinction of being short-listed for a pamphlet with Valley Press.

Next month we’ll be meeting at Jinny’s house in Glastonbury on Monday 8th January, 7’45 for 8pm. If you are not on the mailing-list, please contact Ama (amabolton at hotmail.com) for directions. It has become a tradition that in January we share published poems by other people, as a change from the usual format. Do bring at least two.

I began writing this post two weeks ago, but have been caught in the headlights of you-know-what rushing toward me like a runaway ten-ton truck. The last card was posted today and I’m back at my post, so to speak. Happy you-know-what, everyone! See you next year!

By the end of a poem, the reader should be in a different place from where he started. I would like him to be slightly disoriented at the end, like I drove him outside of town at night and dropped him off in a cornfield.
—– Billy Collins

Love’s Exuberance

The Light Box

Rosie Jackson writes about love like no-one else does. She writes about other things too but it seems to me that love is the foundation on which her poems are built. She writes with warmth and honesty, intelligence and humour, and it was a treat to hear her reading as guest poet on 6th November at the lovely Cheeseyard Cafe near Wells.

In the second half we had some strong readings from Andrew Henon (his poem appears in Tears in the Fence #67), Sara Butler, Paul Rogers, David Cloke, Michelle Diaz, Rachael Clyne, Ama Bolton, Morag Kiziewicz and Paul Watkin, a very welcome visitor who used to be a regular in the old days of the Cafe Piano! He read this poem.

Thanks to those who came just to listen, we had a good-sized audience. Ten copies of our nourishing new anthology “Feast” are still available at only £4 each, or two for £4 if you are a contributor.

Next month we shall be meeting in the skittle-alley at The Sherston Inn Priory Road, Wells BA5 1SU, 7.45 for 8pm. The featured poet will be Jinny Fisher.

On 30th November, Words & Ears in Bradford-on-Avon will be featuring readings by  Tania Hershman and Pam Zinnermann-Hope.

‘One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.’ –Hart Crane

“Feast” at the Food Festival

The weather was perfect, there was gin-tasting, cheese-tasting, cider-tasting, good food, good company, and good music from the band-stand.

Feast at the Food Fest

Andrew, Morag, Ama and Jo with the Poetry Picnic hamper.

To reserve your copy of Feast (£4, second copy free to contributors) please email amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com

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

Candle and snow

snow-candle

Our meeting at Just Ales last night featured the sequence “Second Skin”, poems focusing on clothing, written and performed by Jo Waterworth, Rachael Clyne, Sara Butler, Mo Kiziewicz, Jinny Fisher and Ama Bolton. Andy’s excellent mulled Wilkins cider and Rachael’s generous provision of teacake biscuits cheered us in body and spirit. In the interval many of us bought Wendy’s lovely wildlife cards, printed from her own watercolours and sold in aid of wildlife charities.

After the interval we heard topical poems from Ewan and Paul, and Andrew read Swim-lanes, a long poem resulting from an interesting interdisciplinary collaborative project.

Andrew has sent me a link to his recent collaboration “The Art of Memory” with David Caddy at Hauser and Wirth, and a link to Jinny’s collaboration with Amanda Barnes, performed in Bath, the fourth event in what was a groundbreaking collaborative poetry initiative across South West England.

Caroline made us laugh with a poem about losing her keys. We’ve all done it! Wendy gave us a hymn of praise to the Christmas Pudding and a beautiful new poem resulting from her attempt to write about clothes, or a lack of them: Eve’s thoughts about life after Eden.

Ewa read two recent poems in both her languages – first a short and touching piece about an old perfume-bottle, and secondly a longer poem about an unusual form of communication: banging on the pipes – we’ve all heard of it but few have done it.

It was a pleasure to welcome Rosie Jackson back after a long absence. My title is taken from one of the poems she read from her recently published collection “The Light Box” from Cultured Llama. Rosie will be our guest poet at the April meeting next year. Her writing is well-crafted and often deeply moving.

Here are all the dates, until the summer break, for your diary. You can read about the poets here.

Jan 2    Once again at Just Ales  (BA5 2DS) 7.45 for 8pm start. The featured poets on this occasion will be … any published poet you care to bring along! We have a tradition of using the January meeting to share some published poems we particularly admire. If you prefer to read your own work, that is fine too. At this meeting there will be no charge.

Feb 6   Linda Saunders

Mar 6  Tom Sastry

April 3 Rosie Jackson

May 1  Claire Coleman

June 5  Gram Joel Davies

July 3  Annie Fisher

You might like to have a look at this light-hearted poem, which I mentioned at the meeting: 100 Differences Between Poetry and Prose.

Finally … a photo from our October meeting, our first time at Just Ales, when Jane was our featured poet.

jane-at-just-ales

Photo courtesy of Morag Kiziewicz.

Maybe all poetry, insofar as it moves us and connects, is a revealing of something that the writer doesn’t actually want to say but desperately needs to communicate, to be delivered of.  Perhaps it’s the need to keep it hidden that makes it poetic – makes it poetry.  The writer daren’t actually put it into words, so it leaks out obliquely, smuggled through analogies…we’re actually saying something we desperately need to share.  The real mystery is this strange need.  Why can’t we just hide it and shut up? Why do we have to blab? Why do human beings need to confess? Maybe if you don’t have that secret confession, you don’t have a poem – don’t even have a story.

Ted Hughes interviewed for the Paris Review (Spring 1995)