Tag Archives: Gillian Booth

Bollard, dear boy

Annie Fisher

Our guest this month was Annie Fisher – warm, witty and wise. She delighted us all with a reading from her Happenstance pamphlet Infinite in all Perfections. She warmed up with a couple of limericks, followed by Bollard. The highlight of the evening was Annie’s singing of Tom Tafferty went Dancing, which I’d heard before without knowing that Tom is Annie’s grandson. The Welsh, she told us, have a saying that true love comes with the first grandchild. Her song illustrates the truth of this!

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.

– Helena Nelson

Annie book
Many copies of Annie’s pamphlet were bought and signed during the interval, after which we had the usual “open-mouth” session. Ewan, whose book is now on sale in the Cathedral shop, read, among others, a fine new poem The Sea.

It was good to have Gill back with us. She read her startling new poem Wake-up Call. Phil, who is new to our group (welcome. Phil!) read a couple of well-crafted pieces, and he was followed by Rachael with two new poems, one an affectionate tribute to Dylan Thomas in the centenary of his birth. Then Michelle read two poems, one of which had appeared on Amaryllis that very morning.

Paul’s first poem told a shocking true story, and his second was a wry look at HR, The Devil’s Department. Diana read Portrait of a Poet and the second Triolet of the evening, the first being Annie’s So Much. This is such a compact and interesting form that I’m going to suggest we give it a try during the summer break, and bring one to the September meeting. As islands will feature prominently in Jo’s reading, a triolet about an island would be just perfect!

Jo read two of her compositions for NaPoWriMo – one deliciously surreal, the other a clever and topical piece of irony. Ama then read  a poem that drew parallels between one set of her grandparents and the Odysseus/Penelope story. Her Dreams in Upper Silesia appears in the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing. Have a look at their rather entertaining short video about the kind of submissions they are – and are not – looking for.

Annie rounded off the session with her tender poem Fledgling and the laugh-out-loud Multiple-choice Holiday Postcard – a fitting end to the evening and to the current season.

We’ll be taking a break in August and meet again on Monday September 4th, when the featured poet will be our own Jo Waterworth.

Ama will have some mini-pamphlets and a micro-pamphlet on sale at “A Book in the Hand”, an exhibition of handmade books/artists’ books at ACEarts in Somerton – see flyer below.
AceArtsLogo

My advice for a young poet would be read everything and then do what you want.
– Charles Simic, in interview with Peter Mishler.

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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

Left-handed Scissors

mackerel-pate

Twenty of us met in the Micro-pub on Monday evening, when the featured poet was Jane Williams, who started the group back in … 2002 I think it was, about a year after she started writing and about the time she won the Wyvern Prize for a poem in the Wells Litfest competition! It was a real treat to hear her work. This post’s title is the title of her introductory poem – inappropriate scissors as a metaphor for life’s unexpected turns – after which the poems offered snapshots from Jane’s long and eventful life. The evening’s optional theme was “Messages” – the theme of National Poetry Day later this week – and Jane’s poems are, almost without exception, messages of love.

Every poem is of course a message of some sort – an attempt to communicate. We heard messages from Wendy, Caroline, Ewan, both the Pauls, David C, Gillian, Jinny, Morag, Sara, Andrew, Ama, Rachael, Jo, Anne (great to see her after a long absence) and Ali, a welcome newcomer. Finally Jane read a poem by her old friend George Wilson, a excellent poet who used to come and read his work in the early days of our group, and who has recently died aged 93. As a schoolboy he was taught by the man who took the pen-name George Orwell, and later, when teaching in Northern Ireland, he became friends with Seamus Heaney.

We liked the atmosphere at our new venue. It was warm and welcoming. Snippets of conversation drifted in from the front room and blended surreally with the poetry. The next meeting will be on Monday 7 November, once again in Just Ales Micro-pub in Market Street (behind the bus station), 7.45 for 8pm. Real ale and local cider on tap, as well as tea and coffee! We look forward to an extended set from David Cloke from East Coker, a long-standing member of our group and a very fine craftsman with words. There will be a charge of £2.

Rachael, Morag and Andrew are all in the latest issue of “Tears in the Fence”.

If even a few people remember a line or two in a poem you wrote, you’re not just getting there, you’re there. That’s it: and all the greater glory is mere vanity.
– Clive James

Memories shaped from wet sand

We met for the last time at the Sherston Inn on Monday evening. Alas, the availability of cheap booze and cheap food at a nearby establishment has forced the closure (on 25th March) of this historic coaching-inn.

Sara was in the chair, and her topic was Water. This enabled four of the six Watery Poets to perform two-thirds of their set from last Saturday’s Day of Good Poetry (see the previous post, below). We had  watery poems also from Rachael (“In its Element” and “I have not heard”), Jinny (“Grooming Fish” and “Camouflage”), Karin (“A Fishy Tale”), Wendy (a modern ballad in traditional form, “The Drowning at Cinder Hope Ford”), Linda (“Searching for the Shinings”), Andy (“Bath-Time” and “Flow-form”), Morag (“The Splash”), Gill (“Towards Evening”, a memory of floating candles on Hiroshima Day, read in Gill’s absence by Ama), and Mark (“A Costly Bath”), as well as some splendid water-related riddles in the Anglo-Saxon tradition from Richard and a handful of sparkling haiku from Caroline.

Off-topic we had two poems with a twist of the unexpected from Ewa and  Mark (“By bus to Weston Super Mare”), “March” and a strongly evocative poem “Cwm Rhondda” from Rosalie, and Ewan’s “The Boy from Wales”. Karin’s intricate narrative poem “Sugar Man” provided this post’s title. In addition we enjoyed Wendy’s wistful and evocative “Topsy Turvy”, and Ewa read Warsan Shire’s wonderful poem “For women who are difficult to love“. Altogether it was a good session.

Next month we shall be meeting on Monday April 13th in the cocktail bar of the Rose and Crown, 7 St John Street, Wells BA5 1SW. There is no car-park, but on-street parking is allowed in the evenings. The Google map is here. Caroline will chair the meeting and her topic is,  naturally, “Cocktails”. Cheers!

Poetry is not a discipline. It’s a hunger, a revolt, a drive, a mash note, a fright, a tantrum, a grief, a hoax, a debacle, an application, an affect. We cannot make the gods come. All we can do is sweep the steps of the temple and thus we sit down to our desks. – Dean Young

Please don’t give him socks

We gathered festively last Monday at the Sherston Inn for poems on and off the topic “Festive gatherings”, as well as a few on last month’s topic. Caroline’s “War Graves” and Jane’s “Poppies” were particularly poignant.

Several poets took a wry look at the seasonal festivities. This post’s title comes from a laugh-out-loud poem by Pamela. Caroline’s vivid poem about the Somerset Carnivals included some memorable lines. Ama’s poem “Brown Sugar” has been added to her page. Both Ama and Jo have poems published in the new Poetry Space anthology, Jo has had three poems recently published online in Hedgerow magazine/blog (they can be seen on her page), Jinny has two poems on Nutshells and Nuggets, and Rachael has no less than six poems in the current issue of Sarasvati. She also gets a mention in a recent issue of Mslexia.

Once again we enjoyed some unusual titles – Gill’s fire-brigade saga “Called out to two dogs locked in a toilet in Bromley” lingers in the mind, as do Paul’s “Radio Telescope in the Mist” and Andy’s “My Autumn Statement”.

It was especially good to have our founder Jane Williams back with us after many months.

Ama will be in the chair when we meet in the same place next month on January 12th. There is no theme, as this will be the one occasion in the year when poets are invited to read published poems by other people.

Happy Christmas, everyone, and an inspired New Year!

T Tree

Photo from here.

“The last place where the last bird flies”

Nineteen of us met last month in a cosy, well-lit room at The White Hart. Thanks are due to Ewan for finding the venue for us. Our theme was “nearly” and It was an interesting meeting, with some more-than-usually remarkable poems. This post’s title is a line from a poem by Graham, one of two very welcome newcomers to the group. Paul’s “A Line in the Sand” was printed in the Wells Journal on National Poetry Day, October 2nd. Gill’s “Little girl in pink shorts” deserves to reach a far wider audience. It should be in a frame on the wall at every gun club.

Unfortunately we are on the move again! The room would not have held any more unless they sat on the floor. Being opposite the kitchen it was noisy with the door open, and having no means of ventilation it was airless with the door closed. And there was no beer!

So next time, Monday November 10th, we shall be meeting in the skittle-alley at The Sherston Inn. This is a separate building at the back, so it should be reasonably quiet.
All the usual drinks are available, including tea and coffee.

The Sherston is at the junction of Southover and Priory Road. It has a car-park. The post-code is BA5 1SU. Morag will be in the chair and the optional theme will be “Remembering”.

It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
– Barbara Kingsolver