Tag Archives: Michelle Diaz

“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).

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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

Dancing with the lights out

I thought it was an inspiring and moving night altogether and your guest poet Beth was wonderful. Such talent so young; where will she end up?

Pretty close to the top, is my guess! Beth Calverley performed most of her poems from memory and performed them well, with candour and warmth. She radiated hope: no small feat in these dark times. It was a remarkable evening in many ways, with an outstanding guest and some deeply-felt contributions in the second half, including one from Beth’s mum, Sally. Some poems made us laugh, some made us sigh or even cry, one was sung with a chorus we could sing along with and one featured a shockingly close encounter with sudden death. What more could you ask from a small-town (ok, small city) poetry reading?

Next meeting: Monday December 3rd at Loaf, 38 Market Street, Wells BA5 2DS: very close to the bus station and car park. Featured poet Rachael Clyne will read from her new collection Girl Golem. And of course there will be the usual open-mic. And Danny’s remarkable cakes.

Congratulations to Rosie Jackson, who won three prizes in the Wells Poetry Competition: First Prize, Hilly Cansdale Prize and the People’s Vote! Rosie also won second prize in the Torbay Festival competition, and was highly commended in the Winchester Festival competition. And to Linda Saunders, who won Third prize at Wells, and Deborah Harvey, who was short-listed.

Michelle Diaz shared a reading at the Poetry cafe in London with Jane Lovell, Alison Brackenbury and Graham Clifford on October 19th.

Morag Kiziewicz has been long-listed for The Bridport Prize, and Ama Bolton was joint winner of the 2018 East Coker Poetry Competition. She has a poem in the current issue of Magma and will be reading at the London launch later this month. A found poem is on-line at Unlost.

Claire Coleman had a poem published in each of South 57 and South 58 this year, and read at the launch in Bournemouth of South 58. She also had a poem (“Erasing the Future”, one of the strongest offerings in last night’s open-mic) commended in this year’s Poetry Space competition, and has been facilitating poetry sessions for Literature Works/ Alzheimer’s Society Memory Cafes; the most recent was on National Poetry Day for Literature Works and Gloucester Library’s Share a Poem group.

Finally, I’m delighted to hear that Tom Sastry, who has read to us twice in recent years, has a collection coming out next year from Nine Arches Press.

Whatever you accomplish, make it look as if it happened on its own.
Dave Bonta

Remember, remember

… to join us on Monday 5th November!

Beth Calverley by Tim LoPhoto: Tim Lo

We look forward to verbal fireworks from Beth Calverley.

Beth Calverley is a poet, producer and facilitator who has been writing and performing for 17 years.

Through newly-ripened imagery, Beth finds words for the unspoken and unearths stories of togetherness and overcoming. This year, she became the inaugural Gloucester Regional Roundhouse Slam winner and a 2018 Roundhouse Finalist.

As Chief Operator of The Poetry Machine, Beth tours UK festivals and events speed-writing bespoke poetry. She hosts workshops that help people to put their own stories into words, and she has recently worked with Teenage Cancer Trust, This Mum Runs, Valley Festival and Arnos Vale Cemetery.

Beth is one quarter of Milk Poetry, a nurturing platform for established and emerging poets in Bristol.

We’ll be meeting upstairs at the Venue, 42 South Street, Wells BA5 1SL. Why not arrive early and have a pizza or a fish-supper? There is a car-park almost next-door, in Bell’s Close, and it is free in the evenings.

Just a month late for National Poetry Day, the optional theme for any poet in need of a prompt is “Change”. For the rest of you: write about whatever you please!

News of Fountain poets:
Congratulations to Michelle Diaz, winner of the recent poetry competition marking 70 years of the NHS. Michelle will be reading with Timothy Ades at the launch of Jane Lovell’s Metastatic at the Poetry Cafe in London on Tuesday of next week. She will be our featured poet at the meeting in May next year, reading from her debut pamphlet The Dancing Boy. You can read a poem of hers recently published on Algebra of Owls.
Congratulations also to Rachael Clyne, who read from her recently-published book Girl Golem at the Swindon Poetry Festival last weekend and will be reading at Torbay Poetry Festival next weekend. Her Wells launch will be in December this year.
And to Jinny Fisher, who has had two poems accepted by Algebra of Owls online poetry journal. Jinny will be our featured poet at the June meeting next year, with her pamphlet The Escapologist.
David Cloke was interviewed on Radio Somerset on National Poetry Day. Hear him 1.55.30 into the programme, grace under pressure personified, with his very appropriate poem Antenna. A triumph!

If you keep working on old ideas, new ones can’t show up.
Judy Martin

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

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

Worm made flesh

Deborah Harvey gave us a magnificent reading at our last meeting, in Jinny’s lovely salon in Glastonbury.  Her work expresses the humour and pathos of life, and shows an observant eye for nature and landscape and a keen sense of history. In addition, she has great technical skill.

This post’s title is taken from Deborah’s first poem, ‘Old Moulder’s Almanac’, which she described as “a mad astrological calendar”. She ended her first set with a breathtaking and very moving wreath of sonnets written since the recent death of her father.

Her wide-ranging second set took us from Bristol, the Quantocks, Chew Valley Lake and Dartmoor to Leningrad and Chernobyl by way of High Wycombe. 

Poems from the floor included three from the new issue of Tears in the Fence, from Andrew, Rosie and Morag. Other readers were Rachael, Ama, Izzy, Ewa, Michelle, Wendy (a Creative Writing prizewinner in the recent Mid-Somerset Festival) and Sara.
Our next meeting will be on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May, 7.45 to 9.45 pm at Loaf Bakehouse, 38 Market Street Wells BA5 2DS. Please arrive in time to order your drinks before we start at 8pm. The guest will be the young poet, playwright and actor Conor Whelan from Bath.
Other Poetry News
Friday 13 July at 11pm (past my bed-time!) at The Globe in Priest Row: The first ever Wells Theatre Festival Poetry Slam, being run by the Hip Yak Poetry Shack. A quick-fire knock-out incredibly cuddly poetry competition, featuring up to 8 slammers. Prepare for fun, friendly and exhilarating poetry for both audience and poets, hosted by national spoken word stars Jonny Fluffypunk, Chris Hammond and Liv Torc. Poets will be competing for a feature slot at Sunday’s Hip Yak Poetry Session plus the admiration of their friends.  Everyone welcome, new and old. The judges will also be performing feature slots before and after the slam.
Wells Litfest: time to think about your competition entry! The deadline for all four competitions is 30June, and the festival itself takes place in October.
WFL poster1
WFL postrer2

#MeToo in Glastonbury

On International Women’s Day we held a reading in Jinny’s house. In the first half we heard poems from the just-published #MeToo anthology. From harrowing to laugh-out-loud, and everything in between. The book is beautifully designed, with a selection of powerful poems chosen by the editor, Deborah Alma (The Emergency Poet), and was produced in record time, though you would never guess. We sold all the copies we had, and were able to send £70 to the Women’s Aid charity. It was a joyful and uplifting event.

#MeToo Anthology is available from bookshops or direct from the publisher:
https://fairacrepress.co.uk/shop/metoo-rallying-against-sexual-assault-and-harassment-a-womens-poetry-anthology/

Editor & Publisher have donated their time, to allow maximum donations to Women’s Aid per book.

Donations to Women’s Aid UK can be sent via
https://getinvolved.everydayhero.com/uk/metoopoems

Rosie 2
Ama Bolton, Rachael Clyne and Rachel Buchanan. Photo by Rosie Jackson.

Cat joins the line-up

Photo by Jinny Fisher, whose cat wanted some of the lime-light!

Jinny Dawn Sara Rosie
L-R: Jinny Fisher, Dawn Gorman, Sara Butler and Rosie Jackson. Other participating poets were Morag Kiziewicz and Michelle Diaz. Photo by Rachael Clyne.

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And music from Julie Patchouli. Photo by Rachael Clyne.