Tag Archives: Jinny Fisher

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

Candle and snow


Our meeting at Just Ales last night featured the sequence “Second Skin”, poems focusing on clothing, written and performed by Jo Waterworth, Rachael Clyne, Sara Butler, Mo Kiziewicz, Jinny Fisher and Ama Bolton. Andy’s excellent mulled Wilkins cider and Rachael’s generous provision of teacake biscuits cheered us in body and spirit. In the interval many of us bought Wendy’s lovely wildlife cards, printed from her own watercolours and sold in aid of wildlife charities.

After the interval we heard topical poems from Ewan and Paul, and Andrew read Swim-lanes, a long poem resulting from an interesting interdisciplinary collaborative project.

Andrew has sent me a link to his recent collaboration “The Art of Memory” with David Caddy at Hauser and Wirth, and a link to Jinny’s collaboration with Amanda Barnes, performed in Bath, the fourth event in what was a groundbreaking collaborative poetry initiative across South West England.

Caroline made us laugh with a poem about losing her keys. We’ve all done it! Wendy gave us a hymn of praise to the Christmas Pudding and a beautiful new poem resulting from her attempt to write about clothes, or a lack of them: Eve’s thoughts about life after Eden.

Ewa read two recent poems in both her languages – first a short and touching piece about an old perfume-bottle, and secondly a longer poem about an unusual form of communication: banging on the pipes – we’ve all heard of it but few have done it.

It was a pleasure to welcome Rosie Jackson back after a long absence. My title is taken from one of the poems she read from her recently published collection “The Light Box” from Cultured Llama. Rosie will be our guest poet at the April meeting next year. Her writing is well-crafted and often deeply moving.

Here are all the dates, until the summer break, for your diary. You can read about the poets here.

Jan 2    Once again at Just Ales  (BA5 2DS) 7.45 for 8pm start. The featured poets on this occasion will be … any published poet you care to bring along! We have a tradition of using the January meeting to share some published poems we particularly admire. If you prefer to read your own work, that is fine too. At this meeting there will be no charge.

Feb 6   Linda Saunders

Mar 6  Tom Sastry

April 3 Rosie Jackson

May 1  Claire Coleman

June 5  Gram Joel Davies

July 3  Annie Fisher

You might like to have a look at this light-hearted poem, which I mentioned at the meeting: 100 Differences Between Poetry and Prose.

Finally … a photo from our October meeting, our first time at Just Ales, when Jane was our featured poet.


Photo courtesy of Morag Kiziewicz.

Maybe all poetry, insofar as it moves us and connects, is a revealing of something that the writer doesn’t actually want to say but desperately needs to communicate, to be delivered of.  Perhaps it’s the need to keep it hidden that makes it poetic – makes it poetry.  The writer daren’t actually put it into words, so it leaks out obliquely, smuggled through analogies…we’re actually saying something we desperately need to share.  The real mystery is this strange need.  Why can’t we just hide it and shut up? Why do we have to blab? Why do human beings need to confess? Maybe if you don’t have that secret confession, you don’t have a poem – don’t even have a story.

Ted Hughes interviewed for the Paris Review (Spring 1995)



Left-handed Scissors


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

Tears in the Fence weekend

Tears in the Fence magazine held a very enjoyable mini-festival in the lovely new village hall in Stourpaine last weekend. Saturday’s events started with a rather challenging workshop on hybrid forms of poetry, facilitated by David Caddy. Some remarkable pieces of work emerged during the short time available. I’d be surprised if we don’t see some of them in print.

Poets reading in the afternoon included seven from the Fountain group.

The event was a fund-raiser for next year’s full-scale festival.


Here some of the Fountain poets perform their collaboration “Second Skin”. From the left, they are Morag Kiziewicz, Sara Butler, Ama Bolton, Rachael Clyne, Jinny Fisher and Jo Waterworth. Photo courtesy of Andrew Henon, who skillfully combined filming the event with reading his own work.

See also Mo’s report here.

Long time no sea

After a summer break we met again on 5 September at the Sherston Inn. We began with a reading by Clare Diprose from her pamphlet “Thinking of You”. It was lovely to hear the poems together and to get a sense of this Bridport Prize runner-up’s style – assured, economical, observant, with an instinct for the right word and a way of catching you off-guard with a haunting phrase.


We heard poems from Ewa, Ewan, Wendy, Jo, Caroline, Morag, Rachael, Jinny, David and Ama. Paul sent in a poem which was read by Ama. This post’s title is taken from Ewa’s poem about a visit to Burnham-on-Sea.

Rachael’s “Tradition” has been published in the latest issue of The Rialto, and she has been short-listed in this year’s Poetry Space competition.

Ama has a poem “Hartlake” in the new issue of Obsessed with Pipework.

Morag has a poem forthcoming in Tears in the Fence.

Jo will be reading at Tea and Chi in Glastonbury on 23 September.

Wendy will be one of the poets at Twenty Poets Perform in Bristol Central Library on 1 October as part of the Bristol Poetry Festival 2016. This is a really enjoyable event for all concerned, and entrance is free. Full festival details should be on the Poetry Can website pretty soon.

Finally, Rachael, Sara, Morag, Jinny, Jo and Ama will be giving a third performance of this year’s collaboration Second Skin at the Tears in the Fence festival fundraiser weekend at Stourpaine in Dorset this coming Saturday, 17th September –  details here. Andrew will also be reading at this event.

Latest news, hot off the press: Jo, Jinny and Rachael have all had poems accepted for the Broadsheet, which publishes once a year for SW poets. The launch is part of Exeter Poetry Festival in October.

The next meeting will be on Monday 3 October in Just Ales Micropub in Market Street (behind the bus station), 7.45 for 8pm. Real ale and local cider on tap, as well as coffee! There will be a Featured Poet and a charge of £2 which will be saved up until we have enough to pay a Guest Poet.

Other news: Poetry readings at Wells Litfest include Lemn Sisssay on 18 October. If you don’t know about him, do listen to his Desert Island Discs on the radio 4 i-player. He’s phenomenal! See the website for details.

Toppings bookshop in Bath have a programme of readings, including Carrie Etter and Claire Crowther on 1 October, Katherine Towers on 3 October, Rosie Jackson on 7 November, Alice Oswald in the nearby St Swithin’s Church on 15 November and Ruth Sharman on 16 November.

Yeovil Litfest 20-23 October.

It isn’t necessary to know where a poem is going in order to begin to write.  Writing can let you find out what you think.
– Roy Marshall

If you know exactly what you are going to say about a subject before you begin your poem, it is probably better to say that thing in prose.
– Sue Boyle

The sea will always win


Eleven poets met at The Venue on April 4th, with Ama in the chair, the optional theme being “Sea”. Visual aids were brought – a ship in a bottle, two tiny model boats, a Babushka doll.

By an extraordinary coincidence, two poems in the first half were inspired by ships that were sunk in 1945: David C’s with strongly effective use of repetition  (story here) and Ama’s with a personal perspective (story here). David’s second poem was set on the Cornish coast and Ama’s second on a Maltese beach. This post’s title is taken from Paul R’s poem of dos and don’ts. His second dealt with the profound physiological connection we humans have with the sea. As Annette remarked, we do learn a lot here!

Both of Mark’s poems were located on the Kentish coast, and both of Morag’s were concerned with Scottish islands. Terry read an untitled sea-poem and “Esperance”, set in a town on Western Australia’s southern coast. Ewa took her inspiration from the Somerset coast with two short poems, one witty, one poignant, read in English and in Polish. Annette’s poem “A Pearl” certainly had marine connections …
Caroline was one of several poets not well enough to attend, but she sent a lovely ekphrastic sea-poem which Ama read on her behalf.

Poems on other subjects included a beautifully-constructed poem by Karin in the form of a series of questions to a Babushka doll. Karin also read a devotional poem. Annette’s “To Be” was a delicious flight of imagination, and ‘other’ Paul read two imaginative poems. Andrew read “Dorset Sand” from his 2000 collection “The Canvas Stretcher” and a poem about Sven Berlin.

I have booked the same room at The Venue for next month. We’ll be meeting on Bank Holiday Monday, 2nd May. Chris will be in the chair and his topic is “Travelling home”.

Fountain stars

Warm congratulations to Jinny, who has won second prize in The Interpreter’s House competition with her poem Transition. The judge, Jonathan Edwards, wrote “For much of the judging process this was in first place, and dividing it from the eventual winner was a difficult task indeed. This is a clever, subtle and moving poem which says much more than its fourteen lines. The experience of reading is initially suspense, as one wonders what the list of items in the octave add up to; the revelation in the ending sends us straight back to the start, those same items now invested with an enormous emotional impact. As with the first prize winner, I’m interested in the use of ideas in this poem, the way that the tone of the opening two lines of the sestet are so different to the list of objects in the rest of the poem, adding great weight and significance. This is accessible writing which packs a great punch, engaging the brain, and then the heart.”

Rachael’s Art of Fading will be in Tears in the Fence in Autumn. She also had two poems accepted for Prole, and Power Cut has been accepted by Under the Radar.

Jinny and Rachael were invited to discuss their poetry and read in Hilda’s Lounge, a new blog she’s running in a kistch 70’s setting. See it here.

Jo has another couple of online publications to celebrate: on 9th March in I Am Not a Silent Poet link here ; and  in the Poetry Space Spring showcase find it here – one of her lighter poems.

Wendy, as one of a U3A writing group, entered some poems in the Bath Literary Festival recently, the Mid-Somerset senior section, and won a cup.

Ama, Sara, Morag and Jinny were among the guest poets at a splendid evening in East Coker recently. Many thanks to David C for inviting us. We performed a first draft of our new themed sequence, “Second Skin”, which includes/will include work by Rachael and Jo.

Relaunch at East Coker

Photo by Margaret Hamilton

T S Eliot memorial

T.S. Eliot memorial in East Coker parish church.

Other news

The Wells Festival of Literature writing competitions are now open.
This year there are three prizes for the winners, £500, £200, £100, in all three categories plus the Hilly Cansdale local poetry prize of £100 and the Wyvern local short story prize, also £100.  Entries are open to anyone throughout the world.

For the SHORT STORY COMPETITION, entries may be on any subject and should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length. ALISON MOORE will judge the 2016 short story competition and present the prizes.

Entries in the POETRY COMPETITION may be on any subject but may not exceed 40 lines in length. GRETA STODDART will judge the 2016 Poetry Competition and present the prizes

For the STORY FOR CHILDREN COMPETITION they may be on any subject but be suitable for the age range 10-16   We require the first three chapters or 30 pages (whichever is the shortest) plus a synopsis of no more than two sides. JEREMY DE QUIDT will judge this competition and also present the prizes.


For further details and entry rules http://www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk


I’m a bad first-drafter. I don’t know quite what the percentage would be, but … two-thirds of my first drafts have almost nothing to do with the final drafts. 
– C.K.Williams, interviewed in Poetry Review winter 2015.