Tag Archives: W.H Auden

“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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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