Tag Archives: Melanie Branton

Not the Fringe Binge

Tomorrow, Saturday 17th October, we should have been indulging in a day of poetry at The Globe. Like every other Fountain Poets meeting since March, it has been cancelled. I hope, of course, to re-book all the cancelled poets some time in a future that seems to be drawing further and further into a distant and unguessable future.

CLIVE BIRNIE of Burning Eye Books (“Never knowingly mainstream”) would have read to us and run a Q&A on the process of achieving publication. He has sent me a link to the Clevedon Festival website, where you can hear him read from Palimpsest, his narrative sequence of poems recently published by Verve Press. It has been described as “Sci-fi poetry noir.” Clive has three times been short-listed in the Wells Festival Poetry Competition, and he won the Wyvern Prize in 2013.
Here you will find, among others, a reading by Deborah Harvey, who was due to read for us in June, one by Dominic Fisher who would have been our guest poet for July, one by Ben Banyard our April 2019 guest, and one by Melanie Branton who was our guest reader in July 2018.
Claire Trevien made a stop-motion animation of the final poem from Clive’s book. It can be seen here. Clive’s writing is very much my cup of tea, and the animation is a delight. Do try it!

I’m sad to miss Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell reading from their wonderful collaboration Two Girls and a Beehive; however I have found some readings from the book on-line here.

I hope you’ll find time to watch/ listen to some of these over the weekend.

Trust the poem. It will survive on surprisingly little. A poem doesn’t need much content to survive; its bones are hollow, like a bird’s. That’s what allows them to fly. You don’t need to haul the carcass of a great idea or story into the poem and dissect it there. Poems aren’t built of ideas; they’re built from words. Just enough words, no more, no less. – John Glenday

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Much like crime, poetry doesn’t pay

Melanie B

Our guest this month was Melanie Branton from Bristol.
She was wonderful: tender, honest, funny, incisive and alert to the subtle layers of potential in everyday words and phrases. She emerged onto the performance poetry scene only a few years ago but already has a pamphlet published last year by Oversteps, with a second coming out later this year. If you missed her, you can find her on You-tube

You can read a short bio and a poem that illustrates her characteristically inventive use of simile here. Melanie’s legs are really much longer than they look in the accompanying photo.

In the second half we heard poems from Izzy, Sara, Diana (who read one by the sorely-missed Irene Benson), Chris (recently back from teaching in Hungary), Michelle, Rachael, Morag, Andy, Ama and Jinny, who read her poem “The Pattern”, which was commended in a recent competition.

Melanie finished the evening with “Manifesto”, of which this post’s title is the first line.

Latest news: congratulations to Rachael, who has a Food-bank Poem in The Poetry Shed.
And Ama will be performing her sequence “Warp” at BRLSI as part of an Odyssey-themed afternoon on Saturday 28th July. The readings start at 2pm. Free admission. Full programme here.

We shall be meeting again after the summer break. To know when and where, keep an eye on the “Who, what, where, when” page, or join the mailing list by emailing Ama at amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com.

When I was fourteen I had a conversation at a Boy Scout meeting with a fellow who seemed ancient to me; he was sixteen. I was bragging and told him that I had written a poem during study hall at high school that day. He asked—I can see him standing there—You write poems? and I said, Yes, do you? and he said, in the most solemn voice imaginable, It is my profession. He had just quit high school to devote himself to writing poetry full time! I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. It was like that scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Clyde says, We rob banks. Poetry is like robbing banks. 
– Donald Hall (died 23 June 2018)

Visible despite the light

Conor 2 small

Our guest poet at the delightful Loaf Bakehouse in Wells on 7th May was Conor Whelan,  a talented young writer and performer from Bath. He describes himself as “writing about wild places, and being optimistic despite the evidence”. Conor grouped his poems into three themes: nature, love and hope. My title comes from his first poem, and the theme of light ran through all three sections, along with a sensitivity to landscape and history and a thoughtful, often playful attitude to human relationships; the ‘love’ section included a love-poem to a Leeds bakery! Conor finished his set with a confident performance, from memory, of a longer poem. The addition of a gilded Venetian mask heightened the drama, The effect was electrifying.

After refreshments and conversation in the interval we heard poems from Mark, Wendy, Ewan, Michelle (you can read two of her poems here), Jinny, Rachael, Lydia, Claire, Ewa, Morag and Ama, ending with a bonus poem from Conor. It was an uplifting evening, and the cakes were spectacularly good! Thanks to Danny at Loaf for being so welcoming.

There will be no meeting on the first Monday in June; instead we’ll be having a joint meeting with East Coker Poetry Group and Fire River Poets in Langport on Thursday 21st June from 11am to 4pm. Numbers are limited to 30, so please contact me soon if you would like to come. amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. More details here.

The July meeting will be on Monday 2nd at Jinny’s house in Glastonbury (Cordis Mundi, Bove Town) and the guest poet will be Melanie Branton.

If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it.
–Anne Carson