Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dipping into the Archive

Dipping Into The Archive

This week I looked at handwritten minutes for the period Feb. 23rd. to Dec. 1955 when the President was Miss Elizabeth Hughes whose sister Eva also used to attend meetings. At that time these were held either in members’ houses or in local hotels, even a pub.

Minutes were taken at each meeting, being read, approved and signed at the next. Sometimes there were outside speakers. Ludovic Kennedy came to talk about George Herbert on March 1st. 1955 at an Open Meeting at The Beckenham Hall and a lecturer from Birkbeck College came to give a talk on William Blake. Members often gave what they called ‘papers’ on various meaty topics such as ‘Philosophy In Poetry’ and ‘The Tractarian Movement.’ There was also a liking for choral speaking and members performed ‘Cullin Sands’ by Gordon Bottomley.

Numbers at meetngs seldom went below 20 and there were frequent visitors. A link had been forged with a Poetry Circle in Cley, Norfolk and there were yearly visits, one to the other. As we do now, topics for the meetings were decided in advance e.g. Nature’s Tiny Creatures, Time To Stand and Stare,The Glory That Was Greece, Saints and Sinners and the quite tricky, The Music In My Heart I Bore.

Here’s a snippet from the minutes of April 5th. 1955 :-

Mrs Pereira expressed the opinion that she felt that poems on Easter or Christmas, as the case might be were becoming a little stale and that, in future, subjects other than these might be selected by the Committee from the Suggestions Book when they were drawing up the programme.



My neighbour, Betty, used to look in my many poetry books for poems for SPC meetings. I had to wait until I had retired from teaching before I could join her. It was a very elderly group then and I was amused at a member coming in with two cushions, one to sit on and one for her back, just like I do now!

It wasn’t long before I became Assistant Secretary and soon after that, Secretary when Beth Fender moved to Belper. I enjoyed helping to organize the 80th. and 90th. Anniversary Celebrations, and to see the publication of Perspectives for the 50th anniversary of the Writers’ Group. I stayed on for eleven years as Secretary, too long.

One of our members got round the rule of not reading your own poems by getting our actress member to read them for him. Another member, years ago, used to read rather spicy poems and our then President suggested it was not the sort of poetry for our meetings. I recall chanting om . . . . m at his funeral.

The first poem I wrote was for my school magazine. Beth Fender asked me to come along to Shortlands Writers’ Group. This year, 2015, is twenty-five years since I joined Shortlands Poetry Circle – a happy time.

Coming up on January 27th. Four Dymock Poets

Our next meeting will consist of readings from the work of four Dymock Poets, John Drinkwater, Rupert Brooke, Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilfrid Gibson. Edward Thomas and Robert Frost were also associated with the group, some of whom lived near the village of Dymock between 1911 and 1914. In 1915 Robert Frost returned to America. The Dymock poets published their own quarterly ‘New Numbers’ and among the poems published was Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier.’ Dymock is between May Hill in Gloucestershire and the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire.

Our Meeting on 13th. January

Following a short talk by Ruth Smith on The Little Magazines’ the meeting proceeded with members’ choices of one long and one short poem to share with the group. On this occasion there was no theme or particular poet so the range was very wide, from Southey to Les Murray and much in between, both comic and serious. We were very pleased to welcome a visitor to the meeting who not only reads but writes poems and hope to see him again.

TS Eliot Prize. The Winner

After four previous appearances on the shortlist for the TS Eliot prize for poetry, David Harsent has finally achieved the honours for his eleventh collection of poems. Helen Dunmore, who chaired the judging panel, said that his latest collection Fire Songs ‘ plumbs language and emotion with technical brilliance and prophetic power.’ She also described him as ‘a poet for dark and dangerous days.’

Spring Programme

Diary dates for summer term 2015

Readers:                             Apr 28, May 12 & 26, Jun 9 & 23, Jul 14.
Committee members:     May 19.
Writers:                              Dates to be agreed by Writers.

If you cannot find a poem for the topic/poet listed, please read another poem, but not one written by you N.B. We each read I long poem and 1 short poem (of about sonnet length).

January 2015 Poetry Listings

Tuesday, 6th January

Beyond Words

Stephen Watts & Jane Grell

Plus open mic

The Gipsy Hill Tavern, 79 Gipsy Hill, SE19 1QY

Doors open 7.15 for 7.30 start.   Entry  £4 / £3concs. 

Friday 9th January 

Ruth O’Callaghan Presents 

Overstep Poets

Poets from the Floor Very Welcome

Trinity United Reform Church, 1 Buck St, Camden Town

7.00p.m.(doors open 6.30) Entrance £5/£4         Wine

Sunday January 11th

TS Eliot Prize Readings

Royal Festival Hall 7pm.

There are still a few tickets left for a spellbinding evening of readings with the best poets of 2014. Ian Mcmillan introduces each poet.


Tuesday January 20th   

Ruth O’Callaghan presents SHOESTRING POETS

John Levitt, Nigel Pantling & Rennie Parker

Poets from the floor very welcome.

LUMEN   88 Tavistock Place W.C.1

6.30  Entrance £5/£4        WINE


Thursday 29th. January

7.00pm to 9.00pm

The London Review Bookshop 14 Bury Place London WC1A 2JL

The Poetry Society presents The Poetry Review winter launch, with readings from contributors Daisy Behagg, Amy Key and Matthew Sweeney, hosted by editor Maurice Riordan.

Join us to celebrate the latest edition of the acclaimed poetry magazine.


Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance. Email

Saturday 31st January 

Guest hosts Chris Beckett and Valerie Josephs present


Martha Kapos, Jo Roach and John Clegg

with Denise Saul, Matthew Brown, Lizzie Horsley and Richard Osmond

The Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BX

7.30 – 9.30 pm  Entry £6/4    Refreshments from bar


Benchmark Creative Writing Competition

First Prize is a solid Iroko Dalton 3 seater (1500cm) hardwood bench with personalised plaque and delivery within the UK.  Kindly donated by Faithful & Gould, Victory Signs and Solid Oak Hardwood Furniture.

Second Prize is a Kindle kindly donated by David Ridley

Third Prize is a £30 book token kindly donated by Rachel Cochrane

Closing date 19th January

All winning entries will also be showcased in written form on

Judges Wendy Robertson, Writer and Workshop Leader, Dr Philip Le Dune, General Practitioner, Sue Spencer, Writer and Head of Clinical Services, Willow Burn Hospice

This national competition is open to all adults (18+) in the UK, so if you’ve never written creatively before – why not give it a try?

There will be an entry fee of £5 with 40% of that donated to Willow Burn Hospice.

full details 

Camden/Lumen Competition: Judge George Szirtses.

 Prize: 50 perfect bound copies of your poems. 

Closing date 14th February 2015. 

Fee: £2.50 per poem or 6 poems £10. 

Cheques made out to Caris Camden and sent to Ruth O’Callaghan,      

49 Ripley Gardens, Mortlake, London SW14 8HF or see 

Torriano Poetry Competition 2015 adjudicated by Martyn Crucifix. 

We accept unpublished poems of up to 40 lines. 

First Prize £250. 00, Second Prize £150. 00, Third Prize £75.00. 

Cheques  payable to the Torriano Support Fund. (Winning poets will be offered featured readings at the adjudication celebrations on 29th March, 2015.

Name, address, phone number and titles on separate sheet. No entry form required.

£3 one poem, £5 for two, £10 for five..

Entries to Patricia Griffin, 4 Cundishall Close, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4DA.


Closing date  30th January, 2015.