Tag Archives: Tom Sastry

Man and Fire Move House

tom-sastry-470x443

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

Advertisement

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.

ChrissyBanks

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

 

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

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

The Mysterious Everyday

On a rather damp Monday evening we met in Jinny’s lovely salon in Glastonbury to hear  the wonderful Tom Sastry:
 
“After losing the ability not to see things we discover the secret life of the laundrette. We witness death and resurrection on the Bakerloo Line. An old dictator illustrates the principle of uncertainty whilst a country sliding towards tyranny distracts itself by watching Emmerdale and Premiership football. The familiar is continually disrupted by the sudden shock of alienation until we find a home where we are not alien.” That sums it up pretty well!
And after an interesting conversation on poetics and politics in the interval, we shared our poems on and off the topic of “Stars”. David Ketelby and Phil Genoux read with us for the first time and we are hoping to hear more from them. It was one of our best evenings yet, and we look forward to more sessions in this venue. David will be one of the selected performers, along with Jane Williams our founder, at the Wells Litfest event “Write up! Speak up!” on Sunday 15th October at 7pm – tickets available here.

Congratulations to Jinny, who has a poem in The Broadsheet (launched last week in Exeter) and to Morag who was short-listed. Jinny’s poem “The Art of Staying Dry” appeared on Amaryllis on Monday morning. Also to Michelle who is on the short-list for the Mere Prize and Rachael, who is on the short-list for the Wells Prize. The Mere award ceremony will be at 3pm on Sunday 15th October and the Wells reading and prizegiving  will be at the same time on the same day in the Bishop’s Palace. Booklets containing all the short listed poems are now for sale at Waterstones and in the Bishop’s Palace Shop.

Ama was short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon prize and the Poetry Space competition, and has once again been placed 3rd in Swindon Poetry Festival’s Battered Moons competition.

Tom will be helping to launch “One for the Road”, an anthology from Smith/Doorstop, at a free event in Cheltenham on Saturday 6th October. Also next weekend is Swindon Poetry Festival: look out for Jinny and the Poetry Pram!

Please join us for a Poetry Picnic at Wells Food Festival, Sunday 8th October from 11am onwards in and around the Market Place, beside the Palace moat and in the Recreation Ground/Bishop’s Barn area. There will be a peripatetic Poetry Picnic-hamper full of our new anthology “Feast”!

Feast

Next month we shall be meeting at  the Cheeseyard Cafe, West Horrington, Wells BA5 3ED, on Monday November 6th, 7.45 for 8pm start. This is a really delightful place a couple of miles north of Wells on the old Bath road. Coming from Wells, turn left opposite Horrington School and then turn right into the Cheeseyard. There is plenty of parking, and Lindsay will be serving hot and cold drinks and cake. Please make it worth her while by not just asking for a glass of water! There will not be any other customers, just us. The guest poet on this occasion will be Rosie Jackson..

 Rosie’s particular passions are exploring the links between writing and visual arts, and the role of the creative arts in health. Her pamphlet What the Ground Holds was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2014 and her full collection, The Light Box, and a memoir, The Glass Mother, both came out last year. She is a member of Bath’s Knucklebone poets and has performed her work widely. She runs writing workshops both in UK and abroad.
Rosie recently won 1st AND 2nd prizes in the Berkshire Poetry Competition, and has even more recently won first prize in the prestigious Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition.

 

“A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the – not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps.” –  Paul Celan

we all become islanders

Lewis by Dave

Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Photo by David Robinson.

What a splendid evening we had on Monday, seventeen of us crammed into the cocktail bar! Had so many of the regular attenders not been on holiday we might have been sitting on one another’s laps.

It was a privilege to hear Jo Waterworth’s heartfelt performance of some of the poems in her latest pamphlet, “Paper Islands”. Islands on and off the map, legendary islands and islands of the imagination: Jo took us on a cruise round this whole archipelago. My title is taken from Jo’s poem Compass. It was lovely to have Jane with us and to hear her riotous new poem for “Write up! Speak up!” at Wells Litfest next month. And it was a pleasure to welcome newcomers David, Izzy, Ann and Caroline (who contributed a song as well as a poem), and to see Dearbhaile after a long absence.

After some discussion in the interval we agreed to take up Jinny’s kind offer to meet on Monday October 2nd at her house in Glastonbury. If you would like to come, and are not on the e-mailing list, ask for directions from amabolton at hotmail dot com. The guest poet in October will be Tom Sastry Laureate’s Choice 2016. Tom will be reading a different and complementary set at Tea and Chi in Glastonbury on Thursday 28th September, starting at 6.45. We look forward to both readings. At Caroline’s suggestion, the optional theme for contributions to the 2nd October meeting is Stars.

What have our members been up to over the summer? Congratulations to Rachael, who has a poem in the latest issue of “Obsessed with Pipework” and has been short-listed for the Wells Festival poetry prize. Wendy (who contributed not one but two triolets on Monday) has a poem on Poetry24, Jinny’s poem Retro-focus (one of two prose-poems she read on Monday evening) is in the latest issue of “Tears in the Fence”, and Rosalie Challis has a poem in the Poetry Space Autumn Showcase. Ama has a poem in the newest anthology from Cinnamon Press and has been short-listed for the Bradford-on-Avon poetry prize. Her long poem “Between two Moons” in her hand-made book commissioned for Amazing Space II can be seen during Somerset Art Weeks (23 Sept-8 Oct) at Dove Studios, Venue 21, page 16 in the guide. Photos of the book are here. Apologies to anyone whose achievements have been omitted from this list. Please send me your news so that we can celebrate with you here!

Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.
– Derek Walcott

Sanday 2008

Sanday, Orkney. Photo by Ama Bolton.

Simple magic for dark times

“We happy few” enjoyed a high-quality set from Tom Sastry last night. I’m hoping he will come again so that those suffering in the current flu epidemic (get well soon!) or with prior engagements will have a chance to hear him. He’s delightful, he’s approachable, and his work is just as engaging live as on the page. Tom’s first poem provides this post’s title (and, for me at least, a gospel or guidebook for the present time). You can find it, under a different title, here.

In the second half we had poems from Ewan, Jinny, Caroline, Wendy, Jo, Ama, and a bonus track from Tom.

Our next meeting will be at the same place (Just Ales, Market Street) and time (7.45 for 8) on Monday 3rd April, when the guest poet will be the wonderful Rosie Jackson.

You are part of every poem that you read except when the poem excludes you. Sometimes the poem is so polished and so beautiful it won’t let you in. It wants you to admire it.
– Beau Beausoleil

Everything has its secret grammar

Eight of us met at Just Ales on 2nd January, when we very much enjoyed our once-yearly sharing  of other people’s poems. Where possible I’ve provided links to the poems. They are well worth reading again.

Gillian read from Alden Nowlan‘s Selected Poems: (“…explicitly honest, direct, and insightful poetry. One of Canada’s most influential poets, he left a rich legacy of poetry that is accessible yet profound, and that speaks to people’s lives with wry observation and keen insight.”) The poems Gill chose to read were Warren Pryor, The Execution and Hens. This last is a short and punchy poem and I can’t find it on-line but I do recommend buying or borrowing the book.

Jo read Alice Oswald‘s Aside and two poems from the collection Dream Work by Mary Oliver, Orion and The Swimmer. A longer version of The Swimmer can be seen here , with beautiful images and music.

Rachael read Pauline’s Knickers, a poem by Jane Burn, of The Fat Damsel. She also read The Last Words of my English Grandmother by William Carlos Williams, The Office by Tom Sastry (who will be our guest poet on 6th March) and, at my request, her own poem Miriam. This post’s title is a line from The Office.

Claire, also at my request, read her poems Extracting Sunbeams and Translations, from the current issue of Sarasvati.

Mark read The Seven Dreams of a Suburban Dreamer by David Sollars, To Alice on her 18th Birthday by Richard Devereux, and Do You Remember by Sheila Egar. Unfortunately I have not been able to find these poets or their work.

Caroline read an extract from T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, This Lunar Beauty by W.H.Auden, and Ogden Nash’s The Octopus.

Jinny read Before the Match and The Dancers on Graves, both by Geraldine Clarkson, and Daniel Sluman’s The Terrible, from the book of the same name. This poet will be reading at Words and Ears in Bradford-on-Avon next month, on the 23rd of February.

I (Ama) read Matt Haw’s A Vision for the Topographical Future of East Anglia, David Harsent’s Icefield, The Germ by Ogden Nash and my own poem After the Comet which has just been awarded a minor prize in the Cafe Writers’ competition. The results are on the Cafe Writers website.

Next month our guest poet will be Linda Saunders from Bath.
February 6th at Just Ales, 7.45 for 8pm.
I hope Andy will still be serving his excellent mulled Wilkins Cider!

“In the act of writing the poem, I am obedient, and submissive. Insofar as one can, I put aside ego and vanity, and even intention. I listen. What I hear is almost a voice, almost a language. It is a second ocean, rising, singing into one’s ear, or deep inside the ears, whispering in the recesses where one is less oneself than a part of some single indivisible community. Blake spoke of taking dictation. I am no Blake, yet I know the nature of what he meant. Every poet knows it. One learns the craft, and then casts off. One hopes for gifts. One hopes for direction. It is both physical, and spooky. It is intimate, and inapprehensible. Perhaps it is for this reason that the act of first-writing, for me, involves nothing more complicated than paper and pencil. The abilities of a typewriter or computer would not help in this act of slow and deep listening.”
– Mary Oliver