Tag Archives: Sherston Inn Wells

The ten-thousand-mile stare

eyes

Eighteen poets and two listeners crammed themselves into the small cocktail bar at the Rose and Crown on Monday night to share poems on and off Ewa’s chosen theme “All About Eyes”. Ewa started us off with a poem about being stared at by her mother’s cat. Rachael’s “Still seen” also featured a cat closely observing a human, while Mark’s “If you stare right back” dealt with the experience of being stared at by a child on a bus, and the likely perils of staring back. Wendy read “Night vision” and “Can it be paranoia?”, a poem about being watched.

My title is taken from Andy’s “Reflected back”. Chris’s “Eyes are a gift” and “Eyes of Islington” had some strikingly memorable lines too. Karin’s fragments of memoir “Eyes wide shut” and “Shore-lands” were quietly beautiful pieces of writing.

Poems dealing with blindness, both literal and metaphorical, included Ama’s “The legend of St Odelia”and “Two eyes”, Mark’s “Love is blind”, Richard’s “Flirting with blindness” and Andy’s “Blind to the suffering”. Mo’s poems were “Open eye” and the powerful “Gaza sonata”.

Caroline and Jo contributed haiku. One of Jo’s has just been published in the on-line journal Hedgerow. We heard some erasure poems from Neil and Jinny. Jinny’s other poem “The art of staying dry” suited the weather, and Neil, a master of the sting in the tail, surprised us in the last line of his poem “Better”. Paul read two topical poems, “Redress, or Death by pole-axe” concerning Richard III and “Beltane in Victoria Park”. Ewan read “A kind of peace” and “The stage”.

It was good to welcome Claire Coleman back. She read “Extracting sunbeams” and an untitled poem full of colour and light. Rachael brought an effective surreal prose-poem “Evolution is hard”.

Mo let us know about an offshoot of the Tears in the Fence Festival – a free day of poetry at the White Horse in Stourpaine on Saturday 4th July. Some of our Fountain Poets will be reading on that day.

The six of us who performed at the Bath Litfest will be presenting a second performance of “Waterwoven” at Priddy Folk Festival on the evening of Friday 10th July.

We do like the cocktail bar, but it is clearly too small for our group. The Sherston Inn has re-opened, so we’ll be meeting there (not in the skittle alley but in the dining room) next month, on Monday 1st June, when Jinny will be in the chair and the topic will be “Power”.

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Quicksilver rain, slow sheep

Sherston

We had a really enjoyable informal session at the Sherston Inn’s skittle alley on Monday night. A few of us met beforehand for supper, which was good, freshly-cooked and good value.

Rachael’s scheme for arranging the seating did make the space feel more comfortable.

Chris Scully was back from a summer spent on Flat Holm Island, bearing a copy of a limited-edition book of the poems he wrote during his stay, bound and illustrated with dramatic screen-prints by Otto Dettmer. There is a link on Chris’s page.

The January meeting is traditionally the one when we are encouraged to read published poems by other people. Sara read, very beautifully, three by Raymond Carver: A Haircut, Grief and Late Fragment. Chris read Pam Ayres’ The Dolly on the Dustcart. Jinny performed two of Pascale Petit’s searing poems from “The Zoo Father”: The Ant Glove and My Father’s Books, as well as the exuberantly cynical Spare us by Dennis O’driscoll.

Wendy contributed two poems by A.E.Housman, Oh, When I was in Love with you and When I was One-and-twenty. In the second half, she treated us to Jabberwocky and Wynken, Blynken and Nod – familiar to all, but when did we last read them? Joan read George Herbert’s Love bade me Welcome, and her 12-year-old grand-daughter Beth’s colourful poem Dawn. Beth will go far, I think! Richard gave us three 8th-century poems; an anonymous Anglo-Saxon meditation on the ruins of Bath, a very moving short Chinese poem in Arthur Waley’s translation, Watching the Reapers by Po Chu-i, and Riddle 30 from The Exeter Book.

Pamela performed, in the authentic dialect, two of Charles Benham’s Essex Ballads: Miss Julia the Parson’s Daughter and These New Fangled Ways, the second of which can be heard here in a recording the author made in 1895. Caroline had us chuckling with appreciation of Billy Collins’s Forgetfulness, read here by the author. Later she read Handbag by Ruth Fainlight and Apologia by Connie Bensley. Neil, a welcome newcomer to our group, read two of his own poems: Burning the Onions (with a lovely sting in the tail) and Ghosts. We look forward to hearing more of his work.

Ewan read two new poems: Paris, a reflection on recent events, and Mary’s Poem, from which I have taken this post’s title. Mark shared Kipling’s Alnaschar and the Oxen and Masefield’s London Town. Ama read, from the Fountain Poets’ 2013 anthology, Rayburn by Irene Benson, who died in September last year and is sadly missed. After the interval Ama read two poems that have appeared recently on The Stare’s Nest, Laura Kaminski’s tender meditation Babysitting the Next Dalai Lama and Marc Woodward’s savagely funny An Unexpected Change.

When I checked my e-mails later that evening I found a Bridport Prize newsletter and learnt that “our” Jinny Fisher was on the short-list! Congratulations, Jinny!

Next month we shall be meeting in the skittle alley on Monday 9 February. Paul will be in the chair and his choice of subject (for those who may find one useful) is “Speed”. Thereafter we shall meet on the second Monday of each month until the summer break after the June meeting.

 Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
-Anton Chekhov

The open waters of time

Eighteen of us were made welcome at The Sherston Inn in Wells when we met last week to share recent poems, some of which were on the theme of remembering. And some were about forgetting.

The first two poems remembered fathers who had served in WW2, and another recalled the evening when the poet’s parents had met. There were childhood memories and memories of things that had happened earlier that same day, poignant memories of a bedside vigil and a clever limerick about the tricks that memory plays. This post’s title is quoted from one of Ewa’s poems.

Sara’s “Southborough” told of a Norfolk tomb with an enigmatic inscription hinting at a very strange story. Jinny, a welcome newcomer, read two very accomplished poems, one of which had the intriguing title “Interrogation of a woman who no longer has a voice”. Paul, who excels at titles, read “Eulogy for an unreadable CD”. A great many birds were mentioned during the evening – kingfishers (twice), starlings (twice), avocets and guillemots.

If there were were a prize for the most unusual poem it would have to go to Keith, who wrote an epitaph – wrote it on a large piece of wood that he had found on his way to the meeting.

Next month we’ll be meeting in the same place on Monday 8th December. Andy will be in the chair, and the optional theme will be “Festive Gatherings”.

 

is poetry not
a sticky sap that oozes up
through cracks in our hulls

whether we will it
or not, sometimes captures
accidentally

a small winged moment
preserves it for eternity
memory, amber
Laura M Kaminski

“The last place where the last bird flies”

Nineteen of us met last month in a cosy, well-lit room at The White Hart. Thanks are due to Ewan for finding the venue for us. Our theme was “nearly” and It was an interesting meeting, with some more-than-usually remarkable poems. This post’s title is a line from a poem by Graham, one of two very welcome newcomers to the group. Paul’s “A Line in the Sand” was printed in the Wells Journal on National Poetry Day, October 2nd. Gill’s “Little girl in pink shorts” deserves to reach a far wider audience. It should be in a frame on the wall at every gun club.

Unfortunately we are on the move again! The room would not have held any more unless they sat on the floor. Being opposite the kitchen it was noisy with the door open, and having no means of ventilation it was airless with the door closed. And there was no beer!

So next time, Monday November 10th, we shall be meeting in the skittle-alley at The Sherston Inn. This is a separate building at the back, so it should be reasonably quiet.
All the usual drinks are available, including tea and coffee.

The Sherston is at the junction of Southover and Priory Road. It has a car-park. The post-code is BA5 1SU. Morag will be in the chair and the optional theme will be “Remembering”.

It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
– Barbara Kingsolver