Tag Archives: Andrew Henon

“A ringing bell at sea”

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.

peace bell

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.

Rachael read Wedding Night from Blow This by Anna-May Laugher,  The Ward by Louisa Campbell, and Flood as Redemption from Clare Shaw’s collection Flood.

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.

And I (Ama) read Dave Bonta’s How to Dance and a delightful little poem by Sarah J Sloate After Finishing an Anthology of World Poetry. You can read it in Right Hand Pointing #102.

Altogether it was a convivial, thoughtful and entertaining evening. Thank you Jinny for hosting the meeting.

Other News

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).

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Girl Golem

We gathered once again in Loaf Bakehouse on Monday, with Jinny as chairperson, for the Wells launch of Rachael Clyne’s new pamphlet Girl Golem. Rachael read with her usual flair. This collection of thoughtful and poignant poems about her personal and family history is salted with tender insights and peppered with with dark humour.

Rachael donated her fee to the local food-bank, and additional donations were made.

We welcomed back Gillian Booth after a long absence: her poem Day of the Red Sun was one of the highlights of the open-mic session. Another welcome visitor was Hannah Linden, who we hope will come as guest poet sometime next year. Andrew, Morag, Jinny, Wendy, Michelle, David K, Mervyn, Beth and Ama also contributed. Ama’s circular poem can be seen here.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 7th January at Jinny’s salon in Glastonbury. Bring a couple of favourite published poems, ancient or modern, to read to the rest of us. If you need directions, email amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. The full programme up to July can be seen here.

You have nearly two months to prepare something for this competition:Teignmouth

Beth is fundraising for a neighbour’s six-year-old son who needs equipment to help him communicate. Small donations are welcome, or you can take advantage of Beth’s offer:

The equipment is £2,500, but we’re trying to raise a bit extra to donate towards his school.
Any donations would be warmly welcomed, communication is so vital to Dylan and his family.
Offer 1: 
One day’s work – and if possible, I’d like to raise £150.00 (more if people are feeling generous).
For that day, I can offer editorial advice on a work of prose, manuscript editing (up to 10,000 words), creative writing teaching etc. I’m happy to discuss what might be needed.
My CV: I’ve taught creative writing for the Open College of the Arts up to university level (accredited University of Glamorgan), and I wrote their writing for children course, which they used for about 10 years. I’ve also mentored for the University of Lancaster / The British Council (Crossing Borders project) and I’ve been a literary consultant for The Literary Consultancy.
Offer 2:
To do two illustrations for a work of poetry or prose, again, at the rate of £150 per day (two illustrations are about 1 or 1.5 days’ work, depending on what is wanted.
You can see my work on my website:
If tomorrow I were to write the greatest poem the world has ever seen, picking up my pen the following day, the struggle would continue.  I am simply happy to write something better today than yesterday. – Michael Wells

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)

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