Tag Archives: Diana Hill

Spelunking the Worldwide Web

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It means the exploration of caves. But of course you knew that.

This is the first line of Gram Joel Davies’s poem Earth, from his recently-published and Forward-Prize-nominated first collection.

Gram's book004

Gram was our guest poet last week. What a treat! Boldly adventurous use of language, a rich imagination and a loving and observant eye make for superb writing. Gram read in a way that enhanced our appreciation: unhurriedly, clearly and expressively.

Contributions from the floor in the second half came from Mark. Ama, Jo, Morag, Wendy, Rachael, Michelle, Jinny, Paul, Diana and Jan, and a final bonus-poem from Gram. Loss was the theme of several poignant poems; loss of a child, of the opportunity to be a parent, of a partner through death, divorce or annulment, loss of a friend, loss of trust, loss of habitat. Mark and Jan provided a joyful counterbalance with, respectively, an outpouring of gratitude and a glorious psalm of praise to a bus-route!

Announcements:

Jo's book006
Jo will be launching her latest pamphlet Paper Islands at Ace Gallery in Somerton on 17th June. Jo will be our featured poet at the December meeting.

Rachael will be reading in Bath with Tom Sastry on Wednesday 28th June at St James Wine Vaults.

Jinny had a reading with Ken Beevers at Poetry Island in Torquay last Thursday. Jinny also has a poem forthcoming on the Amaryllis website, and one in print in Tears in the Fence.

Ama has a poem in the current issue of Mslexia, and one forthcoming in the July issue of Right Hand Pointing.

And lastly, please, if you have not already done so, send in your food-themed poems for our newest anthology “Feast”, to be launched at the Wells Food Festival on Sunday 8th October. Anyone who has ever read with our group is eligible, and previously published work is fine. Big thanks to those who have already submitted. To the rest of you – please don’t leave it until the last moment because I am going to be Very Busy with other matters in September! I recommend taking to heart the advice at the bottom of this post.

Our next meeting will be n the Rose and Crown’s cocktail bar on July 3rd, when our guest will be the lovely Annie Fisher, of whom Helens Nelson has written, “Annie Fisher is a story-teller, with a background in primary education. Her debut poetry pamphlet draws on memories of a Catholic upbringing, as well as work in schools.
She knows about loss of faith, and loss of face, knows from the inside how confidence gets lost—and reasserted.
This is a poet with an eye for mischief, an ear for rhythm and form, delicious deftness of touch, and incorrigible joy in the process of creation.”

Compression is the desire not for density, but for the words to be spare enough that meaning can occur in emptiness. – Ariana Nadia Nash

 

The writing is on the wall, and it smells

photo from poweromics.blogspot.co.u

photo from poweromics.blogspot.co.uk

Twenty-three of us met on June 2nd with Paul as chairman to share some poems of protest, in honour of the late Pete Seeger. It proved an opportunity to let our hair down …

Gill got us off to a fine start by singing her Layabout Song, written 35 years ago at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. The link above takes you to a Guardian article in which a version of it is printed as “Down at Greenham”. The oldest poem must have been Ama’s “Talking LBJ Blues”, written way back in 1966!

Poems dealing with current causes for concern were Mark’s “How dare he?”, Rachael’s “Farage Rant”, Wendy’s “Peace for Homs”, Caroline’s “Irish Anger”, Morag’s “Free Woman Dub”, Rosalie’s “Burning Questions” and Paul’s “The Festival Without”, from which this post’s title is taken. Ewan’s “Are we at War?” addressed mankind’s attitude to animals, Diana’s untitled poem referred to the recent badger-cull and Rachael’s “Labels” drew attention to the cruelty of name-calling.

On a more personal level, Annette shared her profoundly moving poem “That Day”, Sara read “Protest”, a lovely sparse poem, and Richard read “When I feel Anger”; honesty was in the air. We were getting stuff off our chests. And it felt good.

We welcomed Andrew, an occasional visitor from Spain, who read a couple of fine poems including “The Cabiri”, a favourite of mine. Another welcome visitor was Stacey, who read her short poem “Sit Little Dog”.

David C’s “Not in my back uncontrolled sky” and Pamela’s “Australia” were, as Paul remarked, two of the most original poems we’ve heard anywhere. Altogether it was a memorable evening. Thank you, Paul.

We shall be taking a two-month break, but will be back on September 8th at a new venue, the King’s Head in Wells High Street. I (Ama) will be the chairperson, and the optional topic will be “Friends and other strangers”.

One day work is hard, and another day it is easy; but if I had waited for inspiration I am afraid I should have done nothing. The miner does not sit at the top of the shaft waiting for the coal to come bubbling up to the surface. One must go deep down, and work out every vein carefully. – Arthur Sullivan

Shouting “Carnival” and whispering “Decay”

Photo by Gabriel Bolton

Photo by Gabriel Bolton

I’ve taken for my title a line from a fine poem read by Diana Hill at our December meeting. It was altogether a memorable meeting. Twenty-three of us met for supper beforehand (the food was excellent and the staff coped well with last-minute changes) and half a dozen more poets joined us for the meeting afterwards. We welcomed newcomers Linda, Andrew and Robin.

The poems covered a wide range, from an ode to a toad to a ballad about a lead-miners’ strike, from “Dionysus on the Pull” to “Shamanic Knitting”.

Jane Williams and two accomplices performed, with props, a pastiche of TS Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”. Their version concerned three poets travelling from Wells to a  meeting of the East Coker Poetry Group. I wonder if this is the first poem to feature lines spoken by a sat-nav! It was, as they say, a very hard act to follow. Andy, however, rose to the occasion with his wonderful poem “The Button-box”. The evening was a very good mixture of the serious and the hilarious, the carnival and the decay.

Sara Butler’s poems remind me of the magic flowers we used to get in Christmas crackers – a tiny ball of coloured paper would expand, when dropped into a glass of water, into a beautiful and complex bloom. Sara’s poems are short, but they go on expanding in the mind. A short poem packed with layers of meaning is so much harder to write than a long one. Impact can often be in inverse proportion to length. Sara will be reading at the next “Poetry and a Pint” at St James’s Wine Vaults in St James Street, off Julian Road, Bath BA1 2TW, next Monday, 9th December at 8pm. Other readers will be Stephanie Boxall, Rosie Jackson and Louise Green. It should be a very good evening.

Sara will be chairing our next meeting, on January 6th, and as in previous years this will be the one occasion in the year when we are encouraged to bring favourite work by published poets to share with the group.

Lastly, I still have a few copies of this year’s anthology. Contact me if you want one.