Tag Archives: Bath Festival of Literature

Fountain poets perform at Bath Litfest

The script booklet

The script booklet

Andrew Henon, poet, painter, film-maker and tower of strength, recorded our collaborative performance in Bath last Saturday. Here it is.

“Waterwoven” is a sound-collage for six voices and rain-stick. Forty-two poems by six poets were cut up and rearranged to form a sequence for performance, beginning with the first drops of rain and ending with the vastness of the Atlantic. Blocks of blank verse were whittled down to slender elliptical stanzas. Sonnets and villanelles were ruthlessly dismembered. Often, opening lines or first stanzas were discarded. Choruses emerged. We had the first draft of a script. Through four weeks of rehearsal it was refined bit by bit by all of us. Another week of rehearsal might have yielded further changes. It is a work in progress.

The performance was followed by a half-hour discussion/Q&A session between compère Nikki Kenna, poet John Richardson (Jay Arr), the Bluegate Poets from Swindon, us Fountain Poets from Wells, and several members of the audience. Many of us said what a pleasure it had been to collaborate, and that we had learnt much. Hearing ones own lines spoken by another can be a useful experience. Andy’s filming of two rehearsals was enormously embarrassing helpful in pointing out our strengths and weaknesses. Rachael Clyne’s years of experience as an actor made her an excellent coach, and it was she who wielded the rain-stick.

Later in the day Rachael read a selection of poems from her latest collection “Singing at the Bone Tree”. Here is the link to the footage of her reading.

A long and very stimulating day in Bath ended with the announcement of the short-list (part one and part two) for the Bath Cafe Short Poem Competition. Several Fountain poets were mentioned!

Big thanks to Sue Boyle for making it happen, to Nikki and John for their reassuring competence and close attention as compères, to the whole team of technicians, welcomers, bookstall-minders and caterers, and to our friends and family who came to listen. As Walt Whitman said, “To have great poets, there must be great audiences.”



Mind that road!

It was a quiet night at The Sherston Inn last Monday. We were therefore invited to hold our meeting in the dining room instead of out in the skittle alley.

We welcomed a newcomer to the group, Karin Baynes, and look forward to hearing some of her work in future.

Paul was in the chair and had chosen “Speed” as a theme. This post’s title is taken from Sara’s first poem. Other poems on the topic came from Paul, Andy, Mark and (memorably) Neil with “Edwin Morgan at Brand’s Hatch”. Neil’s second poem, “The Art of Marking”  (with more than a nod to Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art“) was a beautifully-constructed and very funny villanelle.

Off-topic, we had poems about mothers from Ewa and Ewan, a couple of tender funny and insightful poems from Annette, a wry look at overheard mobile-phone conversations from Pamela, closely-observed birds from Morag and Pamela, and a memory of a landscape-changing event from Paul, “When the Pipeline came”.

Rachael was in lyrical mood with “The Veil” and “Paradise Recalled”, David G’s poems included “Contemplating the Tower-clock”, and  Ama wrote about time and distance, which she hoped would somehow produce speed! Jinny’s short poems have a knack of taking us by the hand, leading us into another place and then leaving us with a line that reverberates like a struck bell.

Wendy’s “Dinnahefta” was a very entertaining poem in her native Geordie dialect in the style of Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”. I think there may be requests for a repeat performance! Wendy has produced another book! It’s just as delightful as her previous works.


On Thursday Rachael’s “Redpoll” appeared on the Stanza blog’s Poetry Map of Scotland.

Next month (March 9th) the theme will be “Water” and Sara will be in charge. By then the six Fountain poets who are also Bath Cafe poets will have performed their sound-collage “Waterwoven” at the Bath Litfest on March 7th.

We are here to cultivate the marvellous, to woo the new from ourselves, to commune with otherness. – Dean Young

A Day of Good Poetry

… at the Bath Litfest on 7th March.

7 March poster

Six of the Fountain Poets have collaborated in distilling 4629 words of our own poetry down to a half-hour performance script. We shall be spending many hours during the next four weeks rehearsing. True to our name and nature, we will present a flow of words on a watery theme, from the first hint of rain to the vastness of the Atlantic. There will be drought and flood, a birth amid the Glastonbury mud, wild-swimming, danger, a very damp dreamscape, tadpoles, seals, a couple of mermaids and a great many birds.

We’ll take the stage soon after mid-day, and our set will be followed at 12.40 by a short Q&A/discussion with the audience between the Wells and Swindon groups about how they  compiled their sets.

Subversifs from Bath will start the day at 10.30 with their set “Elemental”. Bluegates will follow with “Swindon: the Genius of the Place”. John Richardson will introduce his new pamphlet at 11.40. Another Bath group, Knucklebones, will be on at 2.10 with “Who am I?” This group includes Fountain poet Rosalie Challis. At 2.50 Hannah Teasdale, Jeremy Young and Rosie Jackson will read from their new pamphlets. The Bristol poets will be on at 4.05 with a set entitled “Before”, and at 4.45 there will be a second pamphlet set from Ruth Marden, Rachael Clyne and Sue Boyle. Throughout the day there will be musical contributions from Jon Chambers and Tony Monks. And of course there will be a book-stall!

The evening session will start at 7pm with light refreshments, followed by more music, more poets, including Fountain poet Claire Coleman, and the announcement of the short-list for the Bath Cafe Poetry Competition.

Please come and support us! Bring a packed lunch and stay all day!

Bath Litfest


Dates for your diary!

Fountain poets will be taking part in the following events during the Festival. All these events are free and will take place in the Exhibition Room at Bath Central Library in the Podium Centre (above Waitrose).

Friday 28th February: WALKING ON. Eighteen poets (six of them Wells Fountain poets) whose work was featured in the anthology “The Listening Walk” perform some of the best new poetry in the West. 11am to 4.30pm.

Saturday 1st March: The Death of Actaeon – script to performance in one day. Twenty-four poets have been collaborating for six months on a text to retell the classic story of Actaeon. The writers, drama advisors and members of the audience will together create a full performance during the course of the day. Scripts will be provided for all. Do come and be a part of this drama in the making. 10.30am to 4pm.

Sunday 2nd March: an afternoon with poet and freelance writer Michael Swan and ten poets from the Bath Poetry Cafe, 1pm to 3.50pm.

And if you happen to be in London on Tuesday evening, 25th February, do come along to Keats House in Hampstead (10 Keats Grove, NW3 2RR) at 7pm to hear all the prizewinners in the recent Magma Competition read their poems. One of them is a Fountain poet! Entrance is free.