Tag Archives: East Coker Poetry Group

Something Fishy

We enjoyed plenty of variety in an evening of open-mic poetry upstairs at the King’s Head in Wells High Street on November 7th. From laugh-out-loud to wipe-away-a-tear! Both Andrew and Beth read rather fishy poems …
And it was good to welcome back David Cloke from East Coker Poetry. Their next meeting will be on Tuesday November 29th, with Annie Fisher and Anthony Watts, both of them excellent performers from Fire River Poets.

Our next meeting will be on Monday December 5th in the same venue. We’ll start at 7pm, but do come early if you’d like to join us for supper at 6.30. The menu is here.
Our featured poet in December will be Isabel White, director of Alarms and Excursions. Isabel founded Alarms & Excursions in 2009, and has been director of the company ever since, involved with every project of the Collective, which is her real passion. Isabel is a prize winning, published poet, and leads on the artistic agenda of the company, spearheading the majority of projects. Performing across the UK, in Paris and Rotterdam, Isabel has worked with a host of performance poets, actors and musicians, including John Hegley, Michael Horowitz, Elvis McGonagall, Daljit Nagra, Benjamin Till… She hosted Wash House Poets in the City of London, and curated the poetry for the hugely successful Up The Line remembrance events between 2009 and 2013. Isabel was a finalist in the 2013 and 2017 BBC Radio 3 Proms competitions, Adlestrop and Guernsey International Competitions, Pendle War Poem competition (3rd place), was twice commended for the Elmbridge Literary Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2016) and Vernal Equinox (2018) Competition. She has served six years on the Governing Council of the Poetry Society and founded and ran its Chichester Stanza for 3 years. Her work is much anthologised and she has three full collections and a pamphlet published to date. Her next collection is due about now.

Other news: Literally Shepton is a celebration of words on 18-19 November. There’s a Found Poetry workshop on the 19th. All events are free but do need to be booked. Check out the website here. And Mark reminded us that there is a poetry meeting in Glastonbury every Monday morning at 10.45 in St John’s Church.

Poetry is a sort of homecoming – Paul Celan.


East Coker competition, and a rain of poetry


I have just updated this page with the latest news from the East Coker Poetry Group. It includes information about this year’s competition, especially designed to inspire new poetry. Do have a go!

Another way of spending all that spare time you probably don’t have is this poetry experiment.

Gogoame (午後雨), afternoon rain – in Japanese –, is a text rain. This web art experiment, developed by Pedro Veneroso in October 2016, implements a physics engine (that simulates gravity acceleration, wind, among other factors) to create a rain of characters in which words and phrases are formed while characters are falling. By clicking in a button (the letter “A” on the left side of the interface) and providing a text, the visitor can make any text he wants rain. Or the visitor can choose to contemplate the fall of random words that keep being formed in the rain.

It’s beautiful. And quite possibly habit-forming. I dare you not to have a look! Click on the “A” to write and share your own poetry. Enter your text, click on “share” and then on the link ikon, then copy the address that appears. Thanks to Judy Kleinberg at The Poetry Department for letting her followers know about this.

This is mine http://gogoame.sumbioun.com/?ame=5b7d39087d275, the first three lines of a poem inspired by this extraordinary short film by Julie Gauthier – certainly my most frequently-watched Vimeo in this year of drought.

Fountain Poets, send me your gogoame links in the comments section below so we can all savour them.

Next meeting: Oct 1. Guest poet David Punter Professor of Poetry, University of Bristol, and co-director of the Bristol Poetry Institute. Time: 7.45 for 8pm, finishing about 9.45. Venue: LOAF, Market Street, Wells BA5 2DS. Close to the bus station and car park.



Writing-off the cost of the petunias

David Cloke, convener of the East Coker Poetry Group, was our featured poet at Monday night’s well-attended meeting in the congenial setting of Just Ales, the Wells micropub. We always enjoy the wit, originality, intelligence and technical skill of David’s work, and it was a joy to listen to him, and indeed to take part in his campanological poem Bells, which needs nine voices to ring the changes. Oh, and to our great delight he did perform his famous morse-code poem! My title is taken from his first poem, Space.

Jane gave a much-appreciated second performance of her Rap on Growing Old, which went down so well at the spoken word event at Wells Litfest. She also read Supper Dish, placed 3rd in the most recent East Coker Poetry Competition and published in their very attractive anthology.

Jo read Shooting Photons in the Canaries, published on-line on  Monday in Amaryllis, Poetry Swindon’s blog. Her second poem was Wunderkammer, published in print in this year’s Broadsheet, (launched last month at Exeter Poetry Festival) where Jo’s poem sits happily alongside work by such well-known names as Julia Copus and Annie Freud.

Ama read Three ways of looking at a Fig, which recently won a small prize at the Torbay Festival. Caroline read two short but sweet autumnal poems, and we welcomed two new readers, Alison and Michelle. Michelle runs a monthly poetry open-mic in Glastonbury at Tea and Chi in Benedict Street at 6.45 on the last Thursday of the month. The featured poet this month will be The Bristol Sadhu.

We heard new poems from Rachael, Ewan, Mark, Morag and Andrew. Rachael will be running a creative writing course in Glastonbury starting in the new year; see the previous post for details.

We heard two rather poignant poems from Wendy, who has produced a new single-poem pamphlet with her own delightful illustrations, Saving the Earth. It’s a good present for a child, and a bargain at £1.50.


The next meeting will be at the same place on Monday December 5th, when the headline act will be the collaborative programme Second Skin from six Fountain Poets. All are invited, but not required, to bring a clothing-related poem!

NB Alice Oswald will be in Bath next Tuesday evening, 15th November.  She performs her work from memory, and to hear her is an unforgettable experience. It looks as if tickets (which include a voucher for the wonderful book Falling Awake) are still available.

“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, Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems

News from East Coker

David Cloke, co-ordinator of the East Coker Poetry Group, writes:

Our meetings are held at the Helyar Arms, East Coker and normally start at 7.30pm on the last Tuesday of the month.

Sometimes we have to change a date or time of a meeting and our website will display any changes and the latest details.

Tues 27th Sept Kate Scott

Kate Scott is a scriptwriter, playwright and award-winning children’s author. She is also a published poet regularly heard on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Poetry Please’. Kate’s stage plays have been performed in the Salisbury Fringe Festival and at the Salisbury Playhouse Studio. Kate will be reading some of her work and also discussing poetic inspiration and finding your poetic voice

Tues 25th Oct Competition Evening

Come and read your entry – We hope to read all the entries

Everyone eats food. But can you write a recipe in poetic form? Following a vote at our May meeting, this is the challenge for our 2016 competition – A Recipe in Poetic Form

The recipe can be for any sort of food – a soup, a main course, a pudding, a cake, etc. The choice is yours – but there must be enough information in the poem so that in theory the recipe could actually be made. Entries by email if possible to :-info@eastcokerpoetry.org.uk to reach me by the 1st October

We are also now accepting (for a second prize) poems based on the title but not actually an eatable recipe……….

Tues 29th Nov Annie Fisher

Annie Fisher won our 2012 poetry competition with three excellent poems on the theme of ‘Postcards’. She has gone on writing poetry and has new put together a collection that is being published in November. We are delighted to welcome her back to East Coker for a reading of her work


For more information about the East Coker Poetry Group, contact

David Cloke, Group Co-ordinator, 01935 862623

email info@eastcokerpoetry.org.uk website www.eastcokerpoetry.org.uk

East Coker News

David Cloke has sent me the latest newsletter from the East Coker Poetry Group. I have pasted it below as it could be of interest to any Fountain poets in the Yeovil area. Thanks, David!

East Coker Poetry Group Mini Newsletter March 2015

There is no shortage of poetry events in the offing:-

Thursday March 12th
Some of you may remember Virginia Astley and her daughter performing her ‘Maiden Newton Ecliptic’, a beautiful and rather ethereal long poem set to music, at East Coker several years ago. It will be good to hear this again and on March 12th at the Johnson studio in Yeovil, Virginia and Florence will be performing this at an evening of music and poetry hosted be the Yeovil Community Arts Association. I hope members of East Coker Poetry will come along to support her. This will form the first part of the evening, with the second half being a ‘medley’ of several other local poets/musicians assembled by Liz Pike of the YCAA.
7.30pm £5 entrance. Johnson Studio at the Octagon, Yeovil.

Tuesday March the 31st brings the West Coker Poets to the Helyar Arms at East Coker for their presentation of Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas’ classic ‘play for voices’. Last year was the centenary of Thomas’ birth and I am sure the West Coker Poets will be marking this in style.
7.30pm £2 entrance. The Helyar Arms, East Coker.

Advance notice now for Tuesday 28th April when poet and author Kate Scott comes to East Coker. Her first poetry collection, Stitches, was published by Peterloo Poets and her second collection ‘Escaping the Cage’ published by HappenStance.
Kate also writes children’s books, children’s TV scripts, radio and stage plays.
7.30pm The Helyar Arms.

And just to whet your appetite:-
May features a ‘Jazz Poets’ meeting at East Coker
June will be an outside event
July Juliet Lacey is arranging an evening about poet Alun Lewis
The East Coker Poetry competition 2015 will again be something different –
Pictures at an exhibition – A mixture of Art and Poetry. The exhibition in question will be the Yeovil Art Group’s May exhibition that takes place from the 12th May to 15th June in the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil. This is what to do:-
Visit the exhibition. Select a picture. Then write a poem that captures that picture in words. Deadline for the poems is the 1st October 2015. The Competition meeting in late October will feature poems and pictures – should be good fun…………….
Full details of the competition including when the exhibition will be open will be posted on our website shortly – www.eastcokerpoetry.org.uk
Best wishes

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.

December meeting 2013

We had a cracking meeting last night with Jo at the helm. There were 23 poets in the room and we welcomed two or three newcomers. Subject-matter ranged from wildlife (including eagle, parrot, frog-spawn, slug, butterfly and badger) to recipes, jazz and football. Poems on the “Frost” theme included an obituary for David Frost. One poem was followed by prolonged applause, cheering and stamping of feet; I don’t think this has happened before!

Congratulations to Paul Rogers for his winning entry “Feast of Memory” in the Somerset Short Story Competition,
and to David Cloke for his poem “Antenna”, awarded first prize by Alyson Hallett, judge for the East Coker competition.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 2nd December in the Function Room upstairs at the Fountain Inn at the bottom of St Thomas Street, Wells, 7.45 for an 8pm start. Morag will be in the chair. She has set an optional theme “Festive”. If you’d like to join us for the Fountain’s £10 supper beforehand, please get in touch (amaboltonathotmaildotcom) by Sunday 10th November so that we can book enough tables.

Hans Hofmann was a painter. His words below are equally true of writing.

Eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

East Coker Picnic

The East Coker Poets organise an annual summer picnic. This year’s picnic will take place this coming Saturday, 27th July, in the Vicarage garden at 6.30pm. Bring some food to share. David Cloke, Rachael Clyne, Sara Butler and Ama Bolton will perform their set “Food Matters”: a slightly dark but, we hope, entertaining view of the psychology, politics and practicalities of preparing food and eating it.

… stir slowly, anti-clockwise, with your back to the wind …