Tag Archives: Andrew Henon

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

 

 

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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

“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).

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