Tag Archives: Jinny Fisher

The Mysterious Everyday

On a rather damp Monday evening we met in Jinny’s lovely salon in Glastonbury to hear  the wonderful Tom Sastry:
 
“After losing the ability not to see things we discover the secret life of the laundrette. We witness death and resurrection on the Bakerloo Line. An old dictator illustrates the principle of uncertainty whilst a country sliding towards tyranny distracts itself by watching Emmerdale and Premiership football. The familiar is continually disrupted by the sudden shock of alienation until we find a home where we are not alien.” That sums it up pretty well!
And after an interesting conversation on poetics and politics in the interval, we shared our poems on and off the topic of “Stars”. David Ketelby and Phil Genoux read with us for the first time and we are hoping to hear more from them. It was one of our best evenings yet, and we look forward to more sessions in this venue. David will be one of the selected performers, along with Jane Williams our founder, at the Wells Litfest event “Write up! Speak up!” on Sunday 15th October at 7pm – tickets available here.

Congratulations to Jinny, who has a poem in The Broadsheet (launched last week in Exeter) and to Morag who was short-listed. Jinny’s poem “The Art of Staying Dry” appeared on Amaryllis on Monday morning. Also to Michelle who is on the short-list for the Mere Prize and Rachael, who is on the short-list for the Wells Prize. The Mere award ceremony will be at 3pm on Sunday 15th October and the Wells reading and prizegiving  will be at the same time on the same day in the Bishop’s Palace. Booklets containing all the short listed poems are now for sale at Waterstones and in the Bishop’s Palace Shop.

Ama was short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon prize and the Poetry Space competition, and has once again been placed 3rd in Swindon Poetry Festival’s Battered Moons competition.

Tom will be helping to launch “One for the Road”, an anthology from Smith/Doorstop, at a free event in Cheltenham on Saturday 6th October. Also next weekend is Swindon Poetry Festival: look out for Jinny and the Poetry Pram!

Please join us for a Poetry Picnic at Wells Food Festival, Sunday 8th October from 11am onwards in and around the Market Place, beside the Palace moat and in the Recreation Ground/Bishop’s Barn area. There will be a peripatetic Poetry Picnic-hamper full of our new anthology “Feast”!

Feast

Next month we shall be meeting at  the Cheeseyard Cafe, West Horrington, Wells BA5 3ED, on Monday November 6th, 7.45 for 8pm start. This is a really delightful place a couple of miles north of Wells on the old Bath road. Coming from Wells, turn left opposite Horrington School and then turn right into the Cheeseyard. There is plenty of parking, and Lindsay will be serving hot and cold drinks and cake. Please make it worth her while by not just asking for a glass of water! There will not be any other customers, just us. The guest poet on this occasion will be Rosie Jackson..

 Rosie’s particular passions are exploring the links between writing and visual arts, and the role of the creative arts in health. Her pamphlet What the Ground Holds was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2014 and her full collection, The Light Box, and a memoir, The Glass Mother, both came out last year. She is a member of Bath’s Knucklebone poets and has performed her work widely. She runs writing workshops both in UK and abroad.
Rosie recently won 1st AND 2nd prizes in the Berkshire Poetry Competition, and has even more recently won first prize in the prestigious Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition.

 

“A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the – not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps.” –  Paul Celan

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we all become islanders

Lewis by Dave

Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Photo by David Robinson.

What a splendid evening we had on Monday, seventeen of us crammed into the cocktail bar! Had so many of the regular attenders not been on holiday we might have been sitting on one another’s laps.

It was a privilege to hear Jo Waterworth’s heartfelt performance of some of the poems in her latest pamphlet, “Paper Islands”. Islands on and off the map, legendary islands and islands of the imagination: Jo took us on a cruise round this whole archipelago. My title is taken from Jo’s poem Compass. It was lovely to have Jane with us and to hear her riotous new poem for “Write up! Speak up!” at Wells Litfest next month. And it was a pleasure to welcome newcomers David, Izzy, Ann and Caroline (who contributed a song as well as a poem), and to see Dearbhaile after a long absence.

After some discussion in the interval we agreed to take up Jinny’s kind offer to meet on Monday October 2nd at her house in Glastonbury. If you would like to come, and are not on the e-mailing list, ask for directions from amabolton at hotmail dot com. The guest poet in October will be Tom Sastry Laureate’s Choice 2016. Tom will be reading a different and complementary set at Tea and Chi in Glastonbury on Thursday 28th September, starting at 6.45. We look forward to both readings. At Caroline’s suggestion, the optional theme for contributions to the 2nd October meeting is Stars.

What have our members been up to over the summer? Congratulations to Rachael, who has a poem in the latest issue of “Obsessed with Pipework” and has been short-listed for the Wells Festival poetry prize. Wendy (who contributed not one but two triolets on Monday) has a poem on Poetry24, Jinny’s poem Retro-focus (one of two prose-poems she read on Monday evening) is in the latest issue of “Tears in the Fence”, and Rosalie Challis has a poem in the Poetry Space Autumn Showcase. Ama has a poem in the newest anthology from Cinnamon Press and has been short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon poetry prize. Her long poem “Between two Moons” in her hand-made book commissioned for Amazing Space II can be seen during Somerset Art Weeks (23 Sept-8 Oct) at Dove Studios, Venue 21, page 16 in the guide. Photos of the book are here. Apologies to anyone whose achievements have been omitted from this list. Please send me your news so that we can celebrate with you here!

Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.
– Derek Walcott

Sanday 2008

Sanday, Orkney. Photo by Ama Bolton.

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.

Spelunking the Worldwide Web

,

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 September 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

 

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.

Simple magic for dark times

“We happy few” enjoyed a high-quality set from Tom Sastry last night. I’m hoping he will come again so that those suffering in the current flu epidemic (get well soon!) or with prior engagements will have a chance to hear him. He’s delightful, he’s approachable, and his work is just as engaging live as on the page. Tom’s first poem provides this post’s title (and, for me at least, a gospel or guidebook for the present time). You can find it, under a different title, here.

In the second half we had poems from Ewan, Jinny, Caroline, Wendy, Jo, Ama, and a bonus track from Tom.

Our next meeting will be at the same place (Just Ales, Market Street) and time (7.45 for 8) on Monday 3rd April, when the guest poet will be the wonderful Rosie Jackson.

You are part of every poem that you read except when the poem excludes you. Sometimes the poem is so polished and so beautiful it won’t let you in. It wants you to admire it.
– Beau Beausoleil

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