Tag Archives: Mervyn Lickfold

Interned

We met once again at The Venue in Wells to hear Sharon Larkin from Cheltenham. In the first half she read from her pamphlet (above), which confronts a difficult subject – eating disorders – with courage, earthy humour and a clear, uncompromising gaze. In her second half she read a wide variety of work, some published and some in-progress. It is always rather a treat to be given a preview of not-yet-published poetry!

In the open-mic slots we heard from Diana, Steve, Andrew (including a poem forthcoming in Tears in the Fence), Morag, Mervyn, Jinny and Ama, ending with a “bonus track” from Sharon.

We shall be taking a break in August. Back on Monday September 2nd with guest poet Pam Zinneman-Hope.

Meanwhile:

Creeping Toad is inviting amphibian-themed poems, stories and anecdotes.

Ama will be one of the readers in an all-day presentation of observational (morning) and environmental (afternoon) writing from Bath Writers and Artists on Saturday 20th July, 10-12.30 and 2-4.30 at BRLSI, Queen Square. Free entrance includes tea and cakes!

Ama’s sequence of poems “A Conference of Trees” will be performed by fourteen readers, with improvised music, at the opening of an exhibition of artists’ books at AceArts in Somerton on Friday 30th August. For an invitation, contact amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. This will be an abridged version. The full version will be performed outdoors during Somerset Art Weeks at Dove Studios on the evening of Saturday 28th September. Again, contact Ama for an invitation.

Thurs 3rd October 2-4 pm: Rachael, Morag, Michelle and Ama will be among those taking part in a reading of prison-themed poems organised by Rosie Jackson for National Poetry Day, Voices Inside B-Wing, Shepton Mallet Prison, BA4 5LU.

Each writer invents a world, and if they’re good, the reader can walk around on solid floorboards and not fall through. – Alisa Golden

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Something in common

A lovely lively evening with lots of fun … really took to Ben Banyard … enchanting style with warmth and wit that come from the heart. 

ben banyard

Thanks to one of our regulars for summing up our April meeting so well. It is a help when I don’t have to write this alone!

Ben was a star. I think we all felt we had “something in common” with him. Many of those present identified with his fish-out-of-water experience at a posh school, which was the dubious benefit of passing the 11-plus. The parents among us felt for him as the first-time father of twins. His work is accessible and full of human warmth, and shows technical skill. Look at his poems’ last lines. He knows how to end a poem with just the phrase to startle or charm its way into the listener’s memory.

During the open mic sessions we heard some remarkable work from Mervyn, Rachael, Claire, Wendy, Ita, Paul W, David K, Andrew, Morag, Michelle, Jo, Ama and two very welcome newcomers, Sarah and Steve. It was an evening of happy juxtapositions and coincidences; time and again one poem chimed with another.

Our next meeting will be on May 13th at LOAF Bakehouse, 38 Market St, Wells BA5 2DS, 7.45 for 8pm. Fountain poet Michelle Diaz, winner of a recent poetry competition marking 70 years of the NHS, will be reading from her debut pamphlet The Dancing Boy.

NB This meeting will be on the second, not the first Monday of the month.

Whatever you think you might write, write.
– Michael Rosen on “My Teenage Diary”
, BBC Radio 4, 9th April 2019

No Methodist need apply

Local journalist, editor and archivist Clare Blackmore came to our March meeting  with treasures she has painstakingly unearthed in the archives of local papers and in private collections: about 150 poems by the unschooled but by no means uneducated Victorian poet William Catcott. William was a working man, by turns wool-comber, miner, farm labourer and baker. An observant and thoughtful man, he wrote of rural life and work, love, friendship and local events. Some of his work shows  a passion for justice, standing up for the poor and oppressed — including animals — and criticising the careless and greedy oppressors, the unsoiled drowsy drones. “John Cross” is a passionate defence of a Dorset labourer who kept his family on fourteen pence a day and was sent to prison for stealing firewood. “No Methodist need apply” chides a local bigot who advertised anonymously for a maid-of-all-work. Many of the poems take joy in the beauty of nature. This reading of a dozen poems was a fascinating introduction to the remarkable work of a local man who could so easily have been forgotten by posterity. I do recommend this book, “William Catcott: The Complete Works”.

Complete Works

During the open-mic section we enjoyed poems from Tom Sastry, Wendy Nicholson, David Cloke, Diana Hill, Paul Watkin, Lydia Harley-Tomlinson, Mervyn Lickfold, Michelle Diaz, Jinny Fisher, Rachael Clyne and Ama Bolton.

Jinny, Michelle and Rachael will be reading from their recently-published books at the Avalon Room, 2-4 High Street, Glastonbury BA6 9DU, next Friday, 29th March, 7.30-9.30. Do support them if you can.

Our guest at the 1st April meeting will be Ben Banyard from Portishead. His poems have appeared in Popshot, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Broadsheet, Sarasvati, The Dawntreader, London Grip, The Open Mouse and many others.

His debut pamphlet Communing and a full  collection, We Are All Lucky, are published by Indigo Dreams. Ben also edits Clear Poetry, a blog publishing accessible contemporary work by newcomers and old hands alike.

We’ll be meeting once again upstairs at The Venue in South Street, 7.45 for 8pm.

I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers. – John Berryman

They’re felling forests while you sleep

Hostile Environment

I’ll begin with some unsolicited feedback! (Thanks for writing.)

Really lovely meeting, thank you.
Such an engaged audience … such a pleasure to hear some highly accomplished poems.
Just to say what an excellent evening it was … Loved the poems – so much talent all round –  I love the diversity … Also took to Nigel Kent and Sarah Thomson – really fascinating idea – was sceptical at first when read about it but, as so often happens, was won over completely on seeing how it is done.
It was a real pleasure and I loved hearing all of the poetic contributions – there is so much talent in your group.

Our last meeting, on February 4th, was at The Venue in South Street. There was a record turn-out (21) in spite of the recent wintry weather, which had caused a breakdown of the Venue’s central heating. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and kept reasonably warm.

We welcomed guest poets Nigel Kent and Sarah Thomson, from Evesham and Bristol, whose collaborative pamphlet A Hostile Environment was published in January by the Hedgehog Press.

In the summer of 2018 the story broke of the mistreatment of members of the Windrush generation. As a consequence of the government’s attempts to reduce immigration, it transpired that British subjects had been wrongly deported and detained, lost their jobs and homes, and were denied benefits and medical treatment. This story precipitated a poetry conversation.

The result was a mini-pamphlet that punches well above its weight. In just six poems it moves from bureaucratic oppression to the suppression of weeds, to deforestation and extinction,  to the abuse of the democratic process, to a parable of insects.

In the second half, Sarah and Nigel read a second group of poems that evolved in a similar way – but beginning this time with Quantum theory! There followed a lively discussion of the process.

It was a treat to have Rosie Jackson and Dawn Gorman with us. They contributed some truly remarkable poems to the open-mic part of the evening. Ita, Maggie, Ting and Steve were valued newcomers whom I hope we’ll hear more from. Rachael and Jinny have work in the latest issue of Lighthouse, Rachael read a poem published in Riggwelter and Ama read her prizewinning poem from the Cannon Sonnet or Not Competition.

Other readers were Mervyn, Beth, Michelle, Ewa, Paul, Mark and Diana. It’s always a pleasure to hear their work.

A note from Tom Sastry: Bristol Poetry Festival 2019 starts Friday 22nd March. Details will be posted here: https://www.facebook.com/lyrabristol/

And some rather exciting news: Wells Fountain Poets are now a Poetry Society Stanza.

The next meeting, at The Venue once again, will feature local journalist Clare Blackmore, who has recently published a book of the complete works of William Catcott, the Baker Bard of Wells. She writes:

William was born in West Horrington but lived and worked as a baker in Tor Street in Wells. As he worked and pushed his bread cart around the streets of Wells and surrounding villages to sell his bread he wrote poetry based on the nature, people and social conditions that he saw in Mid Victorian Wells. I have found over 120 of his beautiful poems.

“When you feel you’ve got a line that’s pulling a lot of emotional freight with it, then you know you’ve probably started a poem.” – Harvey Shapiro

“A ringing bell at sea”

Out of the drizzly darkness last night, twelve poets gathered in Jinny’s warm and welcoming Salon des Arts. We have a tradition of reading – and sometimes discussing -other people’s poems at the first meeting of the year.

This time, though, we started with members who’d had work published, in print or on-line, since the December meeting.

Michelle read her Christmas poem Jesus is Pink, published recently at The Poetry Shed, Jinny read Boxing Day Party from Algebra of Owls, and Finding Home from Riggwelter. Rachael read She had never been good at reversing, forthcoming at Litworld, and Ama read January, which appeared in the last-ever print issue of Far-off Places.

Jo read two from The New Poetry, a hugely influential anthology published in 1962: George MacBeth’s eerily prophetic Bedtime Story, and Peter Redgrove’s The Archaeologist. David’s two readings came from The Beat Book, an anthology of writings from the Beat generation. His choices were Poem in Praise of my Husband by Diane Di Prima, and an entertaining extract from Joanne Kyger’s journal.

Andrew read The Bell, by Jay Ramsay, who sadly died just over a week ago. Many of us have fond memories of him. Andrew’s second reading was from Out of the Wreckage, by George Monbiot. In this context, Rachael reminded us of an XR funeral procession to take place on Saturday 12th January at 12 noon in Glastonbury High Street.

peace bell

Jinny’s choices were School Run, by Katherine Maris, and Dear Mr Gove, by Kim Moore. Beth read Grumpy Day from The Dog at the End of the World by Helen Harvey, and Scything, from Blood Earth and Medicine by Somerset poet James Crowden.

Rachael read Wedding Night from Blow This by Anna-May Laugher,  The Ward by Louisa Campbell, and Flood as Redemption from Clare Shaw’s collection Flood.

Clare Shaw was chosen by Michelle, too. She read Love Poem from the collection Straight Ahead. Michelle’s other choice was a beautifully dark poem from Fiona Benson’s Vertigo and Ghost. I did make a note of the title, but I can’t decipher it now!

Mervyn read The Way Things Are, by the patron saint of poetry (aka Roger McGough), and Dylan Thomas’s villanelle Do not go Gentle into that Good Night – read here by the poet himself. Lydia chose Auden’s Stop all the clocks, and read it beautifully. In the second half she read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. It’s good to hear again the familiar poems as well as those that are new to us.

Morag was fortunate in receiving Leonard Cohen’s last collection, The Flame, as a Christmas present. She read Never gave Nobody Trouble and What is Coming, a prophetic poem from 2003.

Gillian read two poems by one of Canada’s most influential writers Alden Nowlan: It’s Good to be Here and The Social Worker’s Poem. For Nowlan, poetry was “all about people, and to hell with literature.” He deserves to be better known over here.

And I (Ama) read Dave Bonta’s How to Dance and a delightful little poem by Sarah J Sloate After Finishing an Anthology of World Poetry. You can read it in Right Hand Pointing #102.

Altogether it was a convivial, thoughtful and entertaining evening. Thank you Jinny for hosting the meeting.

Other News

Michelle’s debut pamphlet “The Dancing Boy” (Against the Grain Press) is about to be launched! Firstly at Labyrinth bookshop in Glastonbury High Street on 1st February, also in a joint launch with Rachael and Jinny, in Glastonbury, 29th March, and at the Fountain Poets’ meeting on 13th May.

Jo will be one of the poets reading at the Berkeley Square Poetry Revue in Bristol on 29th January, 8.30 – 10.30pm.

This post is quite long enough! I’ll write soon about our next meeting (Feb 4th at The Venue in Wells, with two Hedgehog Press poets).

Girl Golem

We gathered once again in Loaf Bakehouse on Monday, with Jinny as chairperson, for the Wells launch of Rachael Clyne’s new pamphlet Girl Golem. Rachael read with her usual flair. This collection of thoughtful and poignant poems about her personal and family history is salted with tender insights and peppered with with dark humour.

Rachael donated her fee to the local food-bank, and additional donations were made.

We welcomed back Gillian Booth after a long absence: her poem Day of the Red Sun was one of the highlights of the open-mic session. Another welcome visitor was Hannah Linden, who we hope will come as guest poet sometime next year. Andrew, Morag, Jinny, Wendy, Michelle, David K, Mervyn, Beth and Ama also contributed. Ama’s circular poem can be seen here.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 7th January at Jinny’s salon in Glastonbury. Bring a couple of favourite published poems, ancient or modern, to read to the rest of us. If you need directions, email amabolton(at)hotmail(dot)com. The full programme up to July can be seen here.

You have nearly two months to prepare something for this competition:Teignmouth

Beth is fundraising for a neighbour’s six-year-old son who needs equipment to help him communicate. Small donations are welcome, or you can take advantage of Beth’s offer:

The equipment is £2,500, but we’re trying to raise a bit extra to donate towards his school.
Any donations would be warmly welcomed, communication is so vital to Dylan and his family.
Offer 1: 
One day’s work – and if possible, I’d like to raise £150.00 (more if people are feeling generous).
For that day, I can offer editorial advice on a work of prose, manuscript editing (up to 10,000 words), creative writing teaching etc. I’m happy to discuss what might be needed.
My CV: I’ve taught creative writing for the Open College of the Arts up to university level (accredited University of Glamorgan), and I wrote their writing for children course, which they used for about 10 years. I’ve also mentored for the University of Lancaster / The British Council (Crossing Borders project) and I’ve been a literary consultant for The Literary Consultancy.
Offer 2:
To do two illustrations for a work of poetry or prose, again, at the rate of £150 per day (two illustrations are about 1 or 1.5 days’ work, depending on what is wanted.
You can see my work on my website:
If tomorrow I were to write the greatest poem the world has ever seen, picking up my pen the following day, the struggle would continue.  I am simply happy to write something better today than yesterday. – Michael Wells

Waiting on the Tide

Waiting on the Tide
photo: Ama Bolton

On Monday in the delightful LOAF Bakehouse we had the great pleasure of hearing David Punter read some of his work. My title is taken from his lovely poem A Dream of Ships.

We welcomed newcomer Mervyn and a group from the Wells Writers. There were some excellent poems  during the open-mic parts of the evening, from Mark, Diana, Mervyn, David K, Lydia, Paul W, Rachael, Jinny, Michelle, Andrew and Morag and two tiny snippets from me (Ama). Paul’s hilarious tribute to the menu at LOAF, powerful work from Rachael, Jinny, Michelle and Morag, Wendy’s tandem poem, David’s Mark-downs and Andrew’s heart-wrenching Care Plan deserve special mention, but really it was an evening of good work all round. Afterwards I received several appreciative e-mails:

“a brief note to say how much I enjoyed the meeting together of so many talented and diverse poets. It was a magical evening and how friendly and welcoming you all are.”

” … exudes wisdom steeped in depth of knowledge, compassion and sensitivity to all around him, that makes his poetry reading utterly compelling – mesmeric in fact! – Yes I did like David!”

“a very pleasant evening”

“I liked the format”

Special thanks to the regulars (you know who you are) who arrived early to arrange the furniture and were so supportive on a day when my stitches were particularly painful. They are out now!

The next meeting will be on Monday 5th November, upstairs at Venue, 42 South Street, Wells BA5 1SL, at the usual time of 7.45 for 8pm. Or come early for a pizza or fish and chips. We do not yet have a firm booking for a guest poet. Watch this space. In honour of National Poetry Day (just a month late) the optional theme, for anyone in need of a prompt, is “Change”. No apologies are needed for poems on other topics unless they contain inappropriate use of shard or heft. Now there’s a challenge!

What is the most important thing? First: writing the best poems you can, the poems that (as Larkin said) only you can write. Second: finding a few good readers for them.
Helena Nelson