Tag Archives: Claire Coleman

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

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Dancing with the lights out

I thought it was an inspiring and moving night altogether and your guest poet Beth was wonderful. Such talent so young; where will she end up?

Pretty close to the top, is my guess! Beth Calverley performed most of her poems from memory and performed them well, with candour and warmth. She radiated hope: no small feat in these dark times. It was a remarkable evening in many ways, with an outstanding guest and some deeply-felt contributions in the second half, including one from Beth’s mum, Sally. Some poems made us laugh, some made us sigh or even cry, one was sung with a chorus we could sing along with and one featured a shockingly close encounter with sudden death. What more could you ask from a small-town (ok, small city) poetry reading?

Next meeting: Monday December 3rd at Loaf, 38 Market Street, Wells BA5 2DS: very close to the bus station and car park. Featured poet Rachael Clyne will read from her new collection Girl Golem. And of course there will be the usual open-mic. And Danny’s remarkable cakes.

Congratulations to Rosie Jackson, who won three prizes in the Wells Poetry Competition: First Prize, Hilly Cansdale Prize and the People’s Vote! Rosie also won second prize in the Torbay Festival competition, and was highly commended in the Winchester Festival competition. And to Linda Saunders, who won Third prize at Wells, and Deborah Harvey, who was short-listed.

Michelle Diaz shared a reading at the Poetry cafe in London with Jane Lovell, Alison Brackenbury and Graham Clifford on October 19th.

Morag Kiziewicz has been long-listed for The Bridport Prize, and Ama Bolton was joint winner of the 2018 East Coker Poetry Competition. She has a poem in the current issue of Magma and will be reading at the London launch later this month. A found poem is on-line at Unlost.

Claire Coleman had a poem published in each of South 57 and South 58 this year, and read at the launch in Bournemouth of South 58. She also had a poem (“Erasing the Future”, one of the strongest offerings in last night’s open-mic) commended in this year’s Poetry Space competition, and has been facilitating poetry sessions for Literature Works/ Alzheimer’s Society Memory Cafes; the most recent was on National Poetry Day for Literature Works and Gloucester Library’s Share a Poem group.

Finally, I’m delighted to hear that Tom Sastry, who has read to us twice in recent years, has a collection coming out next year from Nine Arches Press.

Whatever you accomplish, make it look as if it happened on its own.
Dave Bonta

A Homeric gathering in Bath

Homeric Afternoon Poster jpg

READERS AND PERFORMERS include Verona Bass, Ama Bolton, Sue Boyle, Sue Chadd, Claire Coleman, Sarah Gregory, Margaret Heath, Rosie Jackson, Miranda Pender’s virtual self, Ann Preston, Linda Saunders, Conor Whelan, Roger Whelan, Jude Wisdom and Shirley Wright.

We are building our Journey theme around EMILY WILSON’S acclaimed new translation the THE ODYSSEY. 

To read a translation is like looking at a photo of a sculpture: It shows the thing, but not from every angle. Like every translator, Wilson brings out some features more clearly than others. But altogether it’s as good an “Odyssey” as one could hope for.

– GREGORY HAYS, associate professor of Classics at the University of Virginia, and translator of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. (Review in NY Times 5 Dec 2017)

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Visible despite the light

Conor 2 small

Our guest poet at the delightful Loaf Bakehouse in Wells on 7th May was Conor Whelan,  a talented young writer and performer from Bath. He describes himself as “writing about wild places, and being optimistic despite the evidence”. Conor grouped his poems into three themes: nature, love and hope. My title comes from his first poem, and the theme of light ran through all three sections, along with a sensitivity to landscape and history and a thoughtful, often playful attitude to human relationships; the ‘love’ section included a love-poem to a Leeds bakery! Conor finished his set with a confident performance, from memory, of a longer poem. The addition of a gilded Venetian mask heightened the drama, The effect was electrifying.

After refreshments and conversation in the interval we heard poems from Mark, Wendy, Ewan, Michelle (you can read two of her poems here), Jinny, Rachael, Lydia, Claire, Ewa, Morag and Ama, ending with a bonus poem from Conor. It was an uplifting evening, and the cakes were spectacularly good! Thanks to Danny at Loaf for being so welcoming.

There will be no meeting on the first Monday in June; instead we’ll be having a joint meeting with East Coker Poetry Group and Fire River Poets in Langport on Thursday 21st June from 11am to 4pm. Numbers are limited to 30, so please contact me soon if you would like to come. amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. More details here.

The July meeting will be on Monday 2nd at Jinny’s house in Glastonbury (Cordis Mundi, Bove Town) and the guest poet will be Melanie Branton.

If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it.
–Anne Carson

Turn the world upside-down for love

What we do when we read aloud is to give the poem a new life off the page. If we do this well, either alone in a room or for an audience, we can make the poem memorable. Last Monday our guest was Claire Coleman, who is a fine writer and an excellent reader. She treated us to a feast of fourteen highly nourishing poems. Many of them concerned food – growing it, preparing it, and the effects of not having it. “Ellipsis” is a tender, poignant poem of memory-loss that was short-listed for the National Memory Day competition  recently. My title is taken from “Two-person High”, published in the anthology The Listening Walk. I first heard this wonderful love-poem some years ago. Claire brought it to life and and it has stayed with me. Claire finished her set with the uplifting “One Way” from The Book of Love and Loss, which also includes work by some of the biggest names on the contemporary writing scene.

The second half was chaired by Ewa, who told us that May is the most-loved month in Poland. We heard seasonal poems from Mark, Sara, Wendy, Ewa and Ama, and from Ewan a reflection on what poetry is for. Rosalie read a poem addressed to Marcel Proust, Jo read one from her forthcoming pamphlet, and we heard new work from Rachael and Jinny.

Appreciation of spoken poetry does depend on being able to hear it! Just Ales has become a deservedly popular pub, but the noise level is a problem for us. Next month we shall be meeting in the Cocktail Bar at the back of the Rose and Crown, St John Street, Wells (BA5 1SW) on Monday June 5th, 7.45 for 8pm start. The featured poet on this occasion will be Gram Joel Davies.

Gram lives in Somerset and reads with Juncture 25 Poets. His collection  Bolt Down This Earth has recently been published by V. Press  and has already been nominated for the Forward Prize.

There are things your eyes will miss that your ears will not.
– Kate Tempest (on Radio 4 this week), on the importance of reading poetry aloud.

Coming to the end of April

… which for some is National Poetry Writing Month. And Reading too, of course.

You have to read good poetry to write good poetry. Every single writer I know whose work is loved or respected will tell you the same thing. – Jo Bell

If you haven’t been following Jo Bell’s blog this month, I do recommend catching up with it here.

And don’t forget that tomorrow is the first Monday in May, and we’ll be meeting in the usual place to hear the lovely Claire Coleman and to share our own poems on and off the topic of Beltane.

April moon

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

Everything has its secret grammar

Eight of us met at Just Ales on 2nd January, when we very much enjoyed our once-yearly sharing  of other people’s poems. Where possible I’ve provided links to the poems. They are well worth reading again.

Gillian read from Alden Nowlan‘s Selected Poems: (“…explicitly honest, direct, and insightful poetry. One of Canada’s most influential poets, he left a rich legacy of poetry that is accessible yet profound, and that speaks to people’s lives with wry observation and keen insight.”) The poems Gill chose to read were Warren Pryor, The Execution and Hens. This last is a short and punchy poem and I can’t find it on-line but I do recommend buying or borrowing the book.

Jo read Alice Oswald‘s Aside and two poems from the collection Dream Work by Mary Oliver, Orion and The Swimmer. A longer version of The Swimmer can be seen here , with beautiful images and music.

Rachael read Pauline’s Knickers, a poem by Jane Burn, of The Fat Damsel. She also read The Last Words of my English Grandmother by William Carlos Williams, The Office by Tom Sastry (who will be our guest poet on 6th March) and, at my request, her own poem Miriam. This post’s title is a line from The Office.

Claire, also at my request, read her poems Extracting Sunbeams and Translations, from the current issue of Sarasvati.

Mark read The Seven Dreams of a Suburban Dreamer by David Sollars, To Alice on her 18th Birthday by Richard Devereux, and Do You Remember by Sheila Egar. Unfortunately I have not been able to find these poets or their work.

Caroline read an extract from T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, This Lunar Beauty by W.H.Auden, and Ogden Nash’s The Octopus.

Jinny read Before the Match and The Dancers on Graves, both by Geraldine Clarkson, and Daniel Sluman’s The Terrible, from the book of the same name. This poet will be reading at Words and Ears in Bradford-on-Avon next month, on the 23rd of February.

I (Ama) read Matt Haw’s A Vision for the Topographical Future of East Anglia, David Harsent’s Icefield, The Germ by Ogden Nash and my own poem After the Comet which has just been awarded a minor prize in the Cafe Writers’ competition. The results are on the Cafe Writers website.

Next month our guest poet will be Linda Saunders from Bath.
February 6th at Just Ales, 7.45 for 8pm.
I hope Andy will still be serving his excellent mulled Wilkins Cider!

“In the act of writing the poem, I am obedient, and submissive. Insofar as one can, I put aside ego and vanity, and even intention. I listen. What I hear is almost a voice, almost a language. It is a second ocean, rising, singing into one’s ear, or deep inside the ears, whispering in the recesses where one is less oneself than a part of some single indivisible community. Blake spoke of taking dictation. I am no Blake, yet I know the nature of what he meant. Every poet knows it. One learns the craft, and then casts off. One hopes for gifts. One hopes for direction. It is both physical, and spooky. It is intimate, and inapprehensible. Perhaps it is for this reason that the act of first-writing, for me, involves nothing more complicated than paper and pencil. The abilities of a typewriter or computer would not help in this act of slow and deep listening.”
– Mary Oliver

Fountain stars!

Congratulations to Fountain poets Claire Coleman and Jinny Fisher. Claire has six poems in Sarasvati #42, published by Indigo Dreams, and Jinny has two prose-poems in The Poetry Shed.

Ewan MacPherson and Jane Williams performed at the spoken word event “Write out, Speak out” during Wells Litfest. Jane’s verbal fireworks proved to be the evening’s stand-out performance.

Zanna Beswick and Ama Bolton were at the Torbay Poetry Festival yesterday, reading their  Commended and Highly Commended poems at the Torbay Poetry competition prizegiving event.

Next meeting in Wells: Monday 7th November. Guest poet will be the wonderful David Cloke from East Coker. Will he read his unforgettable Morse Code poem? I do hope so!

The power of words

 

3D Electric power lines over sunrise

3D Electric power lines over sunrise Photo via

We had a good turn-out last night – twenty four of us round the table at The Sherston Inn. Jinny was in the chair and her topic was Power. Jinny herself read “King-sling baby” and “Forms of Travel” – on reflection I think both touched on the power of gravity. Responses to the topic varied from the power of water (Clare’s “Hydrology”) through the power of visual art (Claire’s “Portrait of an Angel”, Rosalie’s “Pencil Power” and “The Black Poppies”) power within the family (Joan’s “Power”, read in her absence by Morag, Pamela’s “Parent Power”, Ewa’s “Three scenes from a Marriage” – which appears in the Fountain Poets’ most recent anthology – and Sara’s “Winks”), the power of love in its manifold forms (Caroline’s “Power”, Sara’s “Scent”, Karin’s spine-tingling “Doppelganger” and “Red Fox”, Ewa’s “And when you kiss me”), to political power (Andy’s “Polemic Power”, Mark’s “Arbeit macht frei”, Caroline’s “Irish Anger” and Ama’s “Post-election Blues”, which earned an immediate heckle.) Mark’s other poem “When real power enthrals” dealt with power in the workplace – specifically a cough-mixture factory.

Rachael contributed a witty listing of the Twelve Steps of recovery for poets, read in her absence by Ama.

Jo read a family-album of a poem, “Waterworths”, and a compact untitled interweaving of past and present that has been accepted for on-line publication – see note below.

Annette’s two short pithy poems were written for last month’s topic – All About Eyes.

We welcomed a new member, Henrietta Lang, who read two engaging poems, “A Special Day Out” and “Dinner-party Man”. I look forward to hearing more of her work.

Some of us had been to a workshop with Roselle Angwin last week, and it was good to hear Claire’s, Andy’s and Morag’s poems which started there and had been thoroughly worked-on in the last few days! Morag’s poem “Three out of four IVF treatments fail” deserves a special mention for its understated but powerful treatment of three or four topics closely interwoven in a short piece of writing.  Morag’s second poem “July in the Waste Land” began life in response to a suggestion at a workshop with Sue Boyle in Bath last month. Again, it dealt deftly with serious subject matter.

Ewan’s first poem, “Let the Bells Ring” was a memorial to raped and murdered First Nation Canadian women. His second, “I go before you” was a biblical exegesis in verse. Many of us learnt things we didn’t know before!

Both of Paul’s poems were set in the Midlands: “Eternity in Sutton Coldfield” and “The First Caravan of the Season”.

Two elegiac pieces were Clare’s “Afterwards” and Ama’s “Gift”. Neil read his own chilling poem “Quietness” and a sinister mother-in-law poem from “A Crown of Sonnets” by Matthew Curry. Chris’s “Old Mother” was an allegorical incantation crying out to be set to music. Any composers out there? Chris has already collaborated with a printmaker and I suggest this could be his next project.

This month’s Fountain stars:

Richard Field, for the fourth year running, has been elected Fool of Glastonbury.

Jo Waterworth has a new poem in the on-line magazine Hedgerow.

Ama Bolton has two poems in the current issue of Obsessed with Pipework … and more in the pipeline!

Rachael Clyne and Jinny Fisher have poems in The Interpreter’s House. They will be reading  at the launch event at the Albion Bookshop in Oxford, on July 16th.
Poets might want to note that the submission window for Issue 60 is… June!

Jinny will be reading at the Fire River Poets Evening for their Poetry Competition Winners: this will be on Thursday June 4th at the United Reformed Church Hall in Paul Street, Taunton, 8-10pm. Refreshments will be available. Tickets are £5 at the door.

The prize-winning and commended poems (including Jinny’s) can be seen here http://fireriverpoets.org.uk/?page_id=693. The judge  was  Lawrence Sail, who also hopes to attend. Jean Atkin, 1st prize winner will be there. Here she is:http://www.overstepsbooks.com/poets/jean-atkin/

Other news:
Jo will be reading at an afternoon with Poetry Space next Saturday, June 6th, in Bristol.
The line-up also includes Myra Schneider and other well-known writers: details here.

Some of the Fountain Poets will be reading at a free day of poetry put on by Tears in the Fence at the  White Horse, Stourpaine, on Saturday July 4th. The Bluegate Poets from Swindon will also be there.

Six Fountain poets will be performing “Waterwoven”, our collage for six voices and rain-stick, at Priddy Folk Fesival on the evening of Friday 10th July.

Next meeting:

Monday July 6th at The Sherston Inn (dining room), starting promptly at 8pm. Andy will be in the chair, and has chosen the topic Belligerent. See you then!

When you write poetry you can’t help but tell the truth.

– Elizabeth Bishop