Tag Archives: Rachael Clyne

Sad news

I am sorry toreport that Fountain poet Ewan MacPherson died on 10th September. He was indomitable, continuing, after suffering a stroke, to attend our monthly meetings in his wheelchair, accompanied by his wife and daughter. He was a master of the iambic pentameter. The photo below shows him performing in a collaboration, “Waterwoven”, at Priddy Folk Festival many years ago.

Another Fountain poet, my dear friend Gillian Booth, died three days ago, on 7th October. Painter, writer, activist, she was a force of nature, so full of joy and kindness and life that it’s hard to take it in that she’s no longer with us. The photo below was taken by Rachael Clyne on a poets’ day out in West Bay. That too was many years ago.

Posted by Ama Bolton on 10th October 2021.


Bridgwater Quayside Festival now on You-tube

Find it here. Poems from Morag, David K, Rachael and me (Ama), and a marvellous new film-poem by Andrew, specially written for the festival. Also a 20-minute Somerset Libraries podcast in which I read a poem by our founder, Jane Williams, Rachael and David N. read their locally-themed poems, and we chat about inspiration and collaboration.

Moot 5

Some (good) news at last

Hello again. I hope you’re well, and writing.

A few Wells Fountain Poets (Andrew Henon, Mo Kiziewicz, Rachael Clyne, David Niven, David Ketelby and me, Ama Bolton) have been invited to contribute to next month’s Bridgwater Quayside virtual Festival (17-19 July). Another of our members, storyteller Beth Webb, will be contributing separately. Here is a preview of Andrew’s timely and powerful video-poem. Andrew is also participating in the Somerset Film project Hello World, and I urge you to watch the interview and two of his short video-poems on their website.

We have had to cancel our April, May and June meetings and will not be meeting in July or August, but I hope to be able to re-book all the cancelled guest poets next year.

Just a quick reminder of some competitions closing soon: Wells Litfest competition closes 30th June, Penfro Festival Competition closes 1st July, Ledbury Festival competition closes 16th July and Winchester Poetry Prize closes 31st July. Many more on the Poetry Kit website.

“It is the task of a lifetime. You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.” – Anne Carson on writing poetry



Man and Fire Move House


Wells Fountain Poets metaphorically moved house this month, to The Globe Inn, where our first visitor was Tom Sastry. Tom has been to us, in different venues, twice before. He just gets better! Carol Ann Duffy knew what she was doing when she chose him as one of the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets. He is a very fine reader of his own work, and his audience was totally engaged. His new collection A Man’s House Catches Fire is well-crafted and relevant, with a balance of the humorous and the deadly serious, the surreal and the down-to-earth, the bleak and the joyful, always with close attention to word-choices and an instinct for the right metaphor.

We had a record number of poets around the table, and a wide range of styles and subjects were on offer during the open-mic.

At the Free Verse Poetry Fair on 22nd February, Jinny will be reading from her V-press pamphlet The Escapologist at 1.40pm.

In the Lyra Poetry Festival, Tom will be performing on 14th March with David Turner and Shauna Robertson at Hours in Colston Yard, Bristol at 2pm, and on 15th March at 5pm Fountain poet Rachael Clyne will be one of six poets responding to the climate crisis at Storysmith Bookshop.

Please note that in future, most meetings (but not all) will be on Tuesdays, due to the room being already booked most Mondays. Please check this page for dates.

Next meeting: Tuesday 3rd March 2020, upstairs at The Globe Inn, 18-20 Priest Row, Wells BA5 2PY. We proudly present Fountain poet Jinny Fisher!

And another date for your diary: for the first time, we will have a day of poetry, The Fringe Poetry Binge, on Saturday 17th October, during Wells Litfest.

Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next. [Read them as though you’re a movie star, or at least as though you’re reading someone whose work you absolutely love.]
– Charles Simic, with comment by Lauren Camp

Something like a man

John Dust by John Duffin
At our meeting last month, Louise Warren read to us, mostly from her impressive pamphlet John Dust: part memoir, part folklore, part fiction, inspired by the history and mystery of Somerset, where she grew up.
John Dust, she told us, came to her when her physical connection with Somerset ceased. He is a trickster, a demon lover, a spirit of the Levels, a lord of misrule – unpredictable, subversive and elusive as Jack O’Lantern or Jumping Jack Flash – but he is human, too, “face like a neighbour.”
This is a powerful body of work, rich in the subtle music of rhythm and repetition, and is aptly illustrated by John Duffin. Louise is an excellent performer, reciting many of her poems from memory. Her voice comes back to me as I read them from the page.
We had some super poems during the open-mic too, and welcomed four newcomers to the group. Martin read Nude descending a staircase #2 from The Interpreter’s House, Rachael read Nameless, which appeared recently in The Beach Hut. I read Small Talk from a recent anthology of writing and photos, Planet in Peril, from Fly on the Wall Press.
At our next meeting, on Monday 6th January, you are invited to bring a couple of poems (not your own) that you enjoy, and to tell us something about them. We’ll be meeting at Jinny’s house, off Bove Town in Glastonbury. If you haven’t been there before, please ask me for directions (amabolton at hotmail dot com.)
Jinny was interviewed recently on Radio Somerset, and Rachael was interviewed on Glastonbury FM.
Jinny and I were on Allan Trinder’s Glastonbury FM community Show on Thurs 19 December, 4-5pm, starting about 19m 15s. The programme is available for a week on the website: https://www.gfm.org.uk/listen-again/
This post was written by Ama Bolton.

Obsession is the key that unlocks treasures. – Pascale Petit on Twitter

Time’s mouth is hungry

Dawn Gorman

Our guest poet on October 7th was Dawn Gorman, winner of the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize 2019, with a wonderful reading, mostly  from her third pamphlet Instead, Let us Say. The poems were concerned with time and memory and forgetting. With being in the moment, observing, and making deep connections. To read and reread this collection is richly rewarding.

Instead Let us Say

Poems in the open-mic included Andrew Henon’s Care Plan, published in Tears in the Fence, and Ama’s The Bad-news Bird, published in the Winchester Prize anthology. We heard some very striking poems from newcomer Lindsey, from Jinny, Michelle, Rachael, Claire, Morag, Wendy and Steve. There were poems from the performance in B-wing that some of us took part in on National Poetry Day, Oct 3rd. You might recognise some faces here!

Poets in B-Wing small

Grief (personal, social, political and environmental) seemed to emerge as a dominant theme, but humour and empathy were present too.

Coming up on the first weekend of November, the Festival of Death and Dying, with, among many other events, a writing workshop in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells on the Saturday morning, and spoken word and song with Rachael, Jinny and others in the Shepton Art Bank on Saturday evening.

Coming up on 20th November, Beth Webb reads The Death of Arthur:

Death of Arthur

News of members’ and friends’ successes – probably not complete!

Congratulations to Wendy Nicholson, who won first prize for the children’s book competition and Deborah Harvey who was short-listed for the poetry prize at Wells Litfest. A huge cheer for David Ketelby who was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. In the Winchester Poetry Prize, Tom Sastry was highly commended and Ama Bolton was commended. Ama also had an “honourable mention” in the Poem for Europe competition.

I have been asked to mention the Snowdrop Festival CompetitionCelebrate snowdrops and the world of The Snowdrop King! 2020 Judge: Jane Draycott, http://www.janedraycott.org.uk Theme: Snowdrops, the James Allen story and Monochrome & Green. Line Limit: 30 lines. Three age categories: 11 & Under, 12 to 17, 18 & Over. Prizes for each category. Entry fees: free to under 18s, £4 per entry 18 & over.
Closes 31st December 2019, 11pm.

And of course don’t forget the National Poetry Competition, deadline 31 October. Poetry Society members get a second entry free.

Our next meeting will be on November 4th at The Venue, 42 South Street, Wells BA5 1SL, at the usual time of 7.45 for 8pm. Our guest poet is Chrissy Banks from Exeter, introducing her new collection  The Uninvited, from Indigo Dreams.


Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person’s life.
Eavan Boland


The trick that gravity pulls

Our guest poet at the September meeting was Pam Zinnemann-Hope, who read from her lovely collection Foothold. These poems are rooted in the West Dorset landscape in which she lives. Some  are attentive hymns to birds, trees, weather, local people past or present, insects, animals, music. Some are more personal, a well-observed moment of intimacy becoming a meditation on ageing, illness, love or death. There is an accuracy, a deftness with words, a lightness of touch, a knowing how much is enough, that makes these quiet poems such a pleasure to hear and to read.
This post’s title is a line from The Stone-balancer’s Secret.

A good mix of poems from the rest of us included Rachael’s It was meant to be a Joke, published in The New European.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 7 October at The Venue in South Street, 7.45 for 8pm, when Dawn Gorman will be reading from her dazzling third pamphlet “Instead, Let Us Say”.

On National Poetry Day, Thursday October 3rd at 2-4pm, five of the Fountain Poets will be taking part in a reading in Shepton Mallet (former) Prison. Poems old and new, some written specially for the occasion, in an extraordinary venue. This is during Somerset Art Weeks, and there are site-specific art installations: Rosie Jackson has a cell of her own … and she will be leading a writing workshop in the morning (free but must be booked in advance.)

B wing

Home in prison


The Art of Memory

No one is such an encyclopaedia of all things poetic, past present and future, as David Caddy!

So here we are

“It’s impossible to be an authentic writer without being a serious reader”
Bothayana al-Essa

David Caddy’s writing is clearly underpinned by some serious reading and high-level scholarship. His performance last Monday, mainly of not-yet-published poems, was spellbinding. Some of us may not have understood every word, but every poem came across powerfully and dramatically. There were moments of helpless laughter. There were moments of awe. There was awe mixed with laughter. It was a memorable evening.

During the open-mic we visited Scotland and entered a blue world with Morag, recalled a remarkable aunt in one of Andrew’s earliest poems and heard also his most recent poem, remembered Armistice Day and celebrated a charming eight-year-old with Mark, entered into memories with Rachael, heard a sonnet and a poem full of pregnant gaps from Jinny, experienced night terrors with Steve and a poignant moment of human contact with Michelle, enjoyed two of Rosie’s characteristically insightful poems, looked closely at a milk-jug and some trees with Ama, and finally heard David Caddy’s hair-raising latest poem, a true story from his local pub in Dorset.

Our next meeting will be at The Venue on Monday 1st July and the guest reader will be Sharon Larkin, from Cheltenham.

Rachael’s poem “Remembered” appeared in the Sunday Tribune, Michelle’s poem “The Validity of Existence” is published today on Algebra of Owls, and Mark has five poems in this elegant anthology:

Lansdown Poets

Finally, I have been asked to mention this year’s Oxford Brookes Poetry Competition and the Tears in the Fence Festival. Details below.

Oxford_Brookes_2019TitF 2019

Nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.
— e.e.cummings

The Dancing Boy

“What a powerful punch of  heart-felt magic was created. My head is still buzzing but more importantly I feel my emotions were rattled for the better.”

“I am very glad indeed – as so many others must be – that her Mum did go to Kilburn.”

Dancing Boy

Here it is! Michelle’s wonderful pamphlet, from which she read at our meeting last Monday.

The Dancing Boy takes us on a magical mystery tour through Michelle’s life, beginning at the beginning with the benefit of rueful hindsight in “Do not go to Kilburn”: a troubled mother is addressed with tenderness and understanding. Other family members are remembered with great compassion. “A Birth Journey in Nine Movements” navigates the highs and lows of pregnancy and birth and the emptiness afterwards: I will never again know such intimacy. Michelle’s heart is big enough to take in a traumatised mother/ an alcoholic father/ a child without an off-button, and she has mastered the art of writing without sentimentality about deeply emotional subjects. “When I rehearse my deathbed scene” is a glorious celebration: all prayers are offered in dance, all tears in song … there is a ban on taking umbrage. Michelle ended the evening with a wonderfully positive, affirmative short poem “Trust your life”.

I’ve recently read a first pamphlet by a skilled poet who relied, I think, rather heavily on writing-exercises. The poems are technically good but many of them lack soul. The poet’s second pamphlet is full of fire and bite and black humour, a thrilling read. I mention this because every poem in The Dancing Boy burns with authenticity and originality. Michelle has no need to go looking for subjects to write about. She trusted her own life and imagination to provide all that was needed to write this most remarkable first pamphlet.

It was my unhappy duty to report the death of Paul Rogers, who until recently was a regular at our meetings, a fine poet and an even better short-story writer. He will be sadly missed. I read his story “A Feast of Memory” from our latest anthology, “Feast”. I plan to give the last unsold copy to his family.

The open-mic spots included nightingale poems from Morag and Ama, memories of childhood from Rachael, Jinny and Sara, playful double-dactyls from Wendy, a new sonnet from Mervyn, laugh-out-loud poems from David K and Paul, and well-crafted thoughtful work from Andrew and Steve.

We welcomed David G back after a long absence. We hope he’ll bring poems next time he joins us!

Poetry Competitions

Wells: (Judged by Simon Armitage) – see website

A Poem for Europe: (Judged by Gillian Clarke and Vanessa Kisuule) – see website

Mere Festival: (Judged by Rosie Jackson) – see website

Are there enough gaps in your poem for the reader to get in?

– Jane Commane

 On Friday 26th April Radio 3’s The Verb concentrated on gaps. Ama’s climate-change poem from Magma #72 was beautifully read by Fiona Moore. You can hear it here. Or read it here.

Next month we’ll be meeting on Monday 3rd June at the usual time at The Venue in South Street, and the guest poet will be David Caddy, editor of Tears in the Fence and author of several volumes of poetry.

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.
Stéphane Mallarme

Posted by Ama Bolton 19 May 2019

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