Local journalist, editor and archivist Clare Blackmore came to our March meeting with treasures she has painstakingly unearthed in the archives of local papers and in private collections: about 150 poems by the unschooled but by no means uneducated Victorian poet William Catcott. William was a working man, by turns wool-comber, miner, farm labourer and baker. An observant and thoughtful man, he wrote of rural life and work, love, friendship and local events. Some of his work shows a passion for justice, standing up for the poor and oppressed — including animals — and criticising the careless and greedy oppressors, the unsoiled drowsy drones. “John Cross” is a passionate defence of a Dorset labourer who kept his family on fourteen pence a day and was sent to prison for stealing firewood. “No Methodist need apply” chides a local bigot who advertised anonymously for a maid-of-all-work. Many of the poems take joy in the beauty of nature. This reading of a dozen poems was a fascinating introduction to the remarkable work of a local man who could so easily have been forgotten by posterity. I do recommend this book, “William Catcott: The Complete Works”.
During the open-mic section we enjoyed poems from Tom Sastry, Wendy Nicholson, David Cloke, Diana Hill, Paul Watkin, Lydia Harley-Tomlinson, Mervyn Lickfold, Michelle Diaz, Jinny Fisher, Rachael Clyne and Ama Bolton.
Jinny, Michelle and Rachael will be reading from their recently-published books at the Avalon Room, 2-4 High Street, Glastonbury BA6 9DU, next Friday, 29th March, 7.30-9.30. Do support them if you can.
Our guest at the 1st April meeting will be Ben Banyard from Portishead. His poems have appeared in Popshot, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Broadsheet, Sarasvati, The Dawntreader, London Grip, The Open Mouse and many others.
His debut pamphlet Communing and a full collection, We Are All Lucky, are published by Indigo Dreams. Ben also edits Clear Poetry, a blog publishing accessible contemporary work by newcomers and old hands alike.
We’ll be meeting once again upstairs at The Venue in South Street, 7.45 for 8pm.
I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers. – John Berryman