Monthly Archives: November 2014

Poems Spoken and Felt

Poems Spoken and Felt

Five members of SPC attended an event at Langley Park School for Girls on Mon. 24th. November having been invited by Remy Ormesher to a Poetry Evening of Remembrance. Pupils from all years read and performed both poems that have become famous and poems written by themselves about the World Wars and war in general. The performance was very ably compered by a pupil from Year 13. Members of staff joined in and many poems had been learned by heart as a number of the readers will be competing in the national competition, Poetry By Heart.

The audience was totally engaged as both girls and boys performed with a remarkable degree of confidence and showed their feeling for poetry. A girl from year 7 had researched her family history to achieve a moving poem about a great-grandfather who fought in the 1st. World War and two boys did a rendition of Dulce et Decorum Est in German and English – simultaneously! There were also musical items in the programme with pupils playing piano and guitar.

Many congratulations to all who took part and to Remy and the other staff who provided such a well-organised and heart-warming occasion besides sharing their own love of poetry,

Member Profile – MURIEL LETMAN


Muriel Letman

Muriel pictured on the left.

Listening to the radio, whilst ironing, back in 1986, I heard an appeal for teachers to go to Brixton. Following the riots, Brixton was a ‘no-go’ area. People had fled and classes were unstaffed. I was a Primary School teacher and, at the end of seven years in a ‘leafy green’ Beckenham school, I was completing a year off to do an OU degree. I volunteered to supply for two weeks in Brixton. It was tough but I loved it and stayed twenty years!

Whilst there my Poetry Club evolved and I became a regular user of the National Poetry Library on the South Bank. One day I glanced at a notice on a display board announcing the centenary of a Poetry Circle. I was intrigued to know how any such society could last 100 years and read further. Shortlands Poetry Circle, which met fortnightly at Ripley, was to celebrate its centenary in July 2011. I live within walking distance of Ripley – how had I missed it? So I joined.

For years I shared poetry with the children but SPC widened my horizons from John Donne to Gerard Manley Hopkins, with a flippant dash of Joyce Grenfell. For some strange reason I remember a crazy poem by Paul Durcan about a Toothbrush!

In addition to our meetings we have read at the district hospital and entertained diners at a local restaurant with ‘food’ poems. We go to poetry readings and concerts and have enjoyed memorable evenings at Langley Park Boys’ School with the pupils entertaining us with their considerable talent.

I am so glad I found SPC – I love it!

War and Peace November 11th. 2014

‘War and Peace.’ November 11th. 2014

Our meeting on the 11th day of the 11th month appropriately took “War and Peace” as its theme. Poems read ranged over World Wars 1 and 2, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation, Vietnam and Afghanistan. We heard the moving “My Boy Jack” (Kipling) and “The Christmas Truce” (Duffy) and the harrowing “An Alternative History of the Destruction of Dresden by Fire” (Powers) along with poems of peace such as “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (Yeats) and “The Horses” (Muir). Two of our members recalled their experiences of being in Berlin on separate occasions when the Wall first went up and when it came down. One read “Die Mauer Ist Runter” by Dick Jones. Altogether a sombre but uplifting afternoon.

President Diane had news that Langley Park Girls’ School would like to build a relationship with us following our successful partnership with the Boys’ School. We are invited to attend a remembrance event on 24th November. Details from Diane

U A Fanthorpe’s Favourite Poetry Sayings:

U A Fanthorpe’s Favourite Poetry Sayings:

“I should define a good poem as one that makes complete sense; and says all it has to say memorably and economically. ” – Robert Graves

“Nine-tenths of English poetic literature is the result of . . . a poet trying to keep his hand in. ” – Robert Graves

“To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.” – Robert Graves

“The lyf so short, the craft so long to learne,/Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquering.” – Geoffrey Chaucer

“Vain was the chief’s, the sage’s pride!/ They had no poet, and they died.” – Alexander Pope

– See more at:

The Poetry Review Podcast

The poetry review podcast with Maurice Riordan and Simon Armitage, talking about the inspiration he continues to draw from the “populated vistas” he would see from his teenager’s bedroom window in Marsden, plus writing ‘The Last Days of Troy‘ and his new ‘Selected’. He also reads two new poems.

If you go to The Poetry Society Site you can listen to this podcast free by clicking here:

Or go straight to the podcast itself here:

TS Eliot Prize Shortlisted Poets

Judges Helen Dunmore (Chair), Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson have chosen the short-list from 113 books submitted by publishers:

  • Fiona Benson – Bright Travellers (Jonathan Cape)
  • John Burnside – All One Breath (Jonathan Cape)
  • Louise Glück – Faithful and Virtuous Night (Carcanet)
  • David Harsent – Fire Songs (Faber)
  • Michael Longley – The Stairwell (Jonathan Cape)
  • Ruth Padel – Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth (Chatto & Windus)
  • Pascale Petit – Fauverie (Seren)
  • Kevin Powers – Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting (Sceptre)
  • Arundhathi Subramaniam – When God is a Traveller (Bloodaxe)
  • Hugo Williams – I Knew the Bride (Faber)

The Members’ Newsletter of the Poetry Book Society is publishing biographies and reviews for each short-listed poet together with three of their poems.

November Events 2014

November Events 2014

Thu 6. Simon Armitage discusses Paper Aeroplane. 7pm at Daunt Books Marylebone High Street. Tickets may be purchased from Daunt Books in person, with credit/debit card by telephone 0207 224 2295 or here online. Fri
 14 & Sat 15. Small Publishers Fair. Including Special Exhibition: Martin Rogers & Les Coleman, with readings on the Saturday. Admission free. 11 am – 7 pm. Conway Hall, Red Lion Square WC1R 4RL.

Sat 15. Poetry Surgery with Daljit Nagra. 1-3pm. Bring along up to three poems and Daljit Nagra will offer supportive critical feedback. £5, booking recommended: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR.

Mon 17. Wallace Stevens. An event celebrating the late great American poet. 7 pm. Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG. Email: Tel: 020 7520 1490. Book:

Tue 18. Nina Zivancevic, Giles Goodland and David Miller. £5 or £3. 7.30 pm. The Blue Bus: The Lamb, 94 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LZ.

Tue 18. Templar Poetry Live at Keats House. 7-8.30. An evening with Christopher James, Beatrice Garland and the winner of the 2014 Straid Collection Award (yet to be announced!). Free, booking recommended: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR.

Thu 20. Vanguard Readings. Readers are James Byrne, Josephine Corcoran, Josephine Dickinson, Cristina Newton, Richard Skinner & Michael Symmons Roberts. The Bear Freehouse, 296a Camberwell New Road, London SE5 0RP. Start time is 7.30pm.

Mon 24. Through the Door finale. 7pm. The British Library. Sir Andrew Motion is joined by poets and archivists from across the project in a celebration of new poetry and rediscovered archives. Book here:

Sun 30. Keats House Poets Present…“when the frost Has wrought a silence”. 2-4pm. Keats House Poets Anthony Hett and Deanna Rodger give seasonally inspired poetry workshop. Free, booking essential: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR.

Writers’ Group Portfolio Meeting 28th October 2014

Presentation of the 2014 portfolio provided something of a reunion as we met and heard from many members who are unable to attend the Circle regularly. Alan, Wyn and Pat are still active writers and it was good to see Maggie, Anne Thomas and Barbara Smith. Poems read by writers and readers were often witty, sometimes poignant. Copies of the portfolio can be ordered from Janet Ryan, price £3 plus p&p.

“The writer’s intention hasn’t anything to do with what he achieves. The intent to earn money or the intent to be famous or the intent to be great doesn’t matter in the end. Just what comes out” Lillian Hellman.