In this session we were reading from the work of three contemporary female poets –
Helen Dunmore ( another loss to poetry as she died in June 2017) Alice Oswald, who won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2002 and Pascale Petit who had four of her seven collections shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
I think it’s fair to say this was fairly new territory for many of our members who had to go to some lengths to obtain their poems. It was therefore specially helpful to hear something about them from research done by Ann Barlow. By far the majority of the poems read were by Helen Dunmore who was also a novelist.
Returning to Ripley after the Summer break had the feeling of starting a new school year, for me anyway, but with none of the qualms. We were delighted to return and get on with the business of sharing our love for poetry.
As usual, the first session was Open Choice. It is always interesting to hear what people light on as their choices. Sadly we have lost a very fine poet in Matthew Sweeney who died in August from motor-neurone disease but he lives on through his poetry. Matthew was still writing three days before his death. He was represented in our readings :-
Although our last meeting of the Summer was on July 10th. our activities did not cease there. Mavis Robinson hosted a very enjoyable afternoon of Free Choice poetry on August 7th. at her flat, attended by as many as Mavis could fit in. On a hot day, the ice cream was very welcome!
Anne Stewart ran an all day event for writers of poetry at The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood. This proved to be popular. We were looking particularly at Structure in poetry and during the day managed to write limericks, haiku, concrete poems, poems in which we assumed an identity and a longer poem on an object which our neighbour had provided. Thanks to Anne’s skill and enthusiasm we all came away exhilarated.
Mavis Robinson has extended an invitation for as many as she can accommodate to visit her on the afternoon of Tues. Aug.7th for an afternoon of ‘free choice’ poetry.
The writers among us also have the opportunity to attend a one -day workshop on Aug. 14th.run by our very own Anne Stewart. This is to be held at The Daylight Inn Petts Wood, the same venue as a previous greatly enjoyed day of writing.
We’re well on into the year now and attendance is holding up at meetings. Our next big event is the Summer Celebration which hopefully will take place in good weather so that people can meet and mingle outdoors. Both Chris Hardy and Roisin Tierney, our featured poets for this year, say they are looking forward to the event and the tickets seem to be selling well.
Our programme for next year commencing September has now been prepared and passed by the Committee. Thanks to Ann Barlow and Monica King for their hard work and to members who provided the suggestions.
This coming September four of our members hope to pay a return visit to Wendy Williams and her Dulwich Library Poetry Group. Their theme on this occasion is Calamities!
On June 7th. Anne Stewart is due to read at The Poetry Society with other poets who have been published by Oversteps Books.
Poems by some of our members will be read on Monday 18th. June at the Bridge House Theatre Penge as part of the Penge Festival. The first part of the evening will be taken up by a brief introduction to the work of Siegfried Sassoon followed by readings from his poetry. Tickets are £5 and can be purchased online.
On June 24th. Ruth Smith will be reading with the American poet Norbert Hirschhorn at The Torriano Meeting House, Kentish Town.
We welcomed Paula Piggot who returned to us. Sezgin Kemal was also also able to attend after a spell of teaching. We heard the sad news of Wyn Parkinson’s death. Wyn was a long-term member of both the Reading Circle and the Writers’ Group and will be missed by all who knew her.
Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins and Esther Morgan
Gerard Manley Hopkins
After reading something about the biography and work of these two poets, members read their chosen poems – The Wndhover, Binsley Poplars, Pied Beauty, Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins, among others; Orbit, Avocado, British Winter Time, This Morning by Esther Morgan. It seemed appropriate that the last poem read was Grace by Esther Morgan. All in all, eighteen poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins were read and sixteen by Esther Morgan.
With eighteen members in attendance the Annual General Meeting was held.
The current President and her Committee will all be staying on and their reports were accepted by members.
An unusual report was given by our Health and Safety Risk Assessment officer in the form of a poem and people say they remember it better that way.
Maybe everything should be in verse! Members read one poem of their own choice when the main business was concluded :-
On Tues. April 3rd. Nola show-cased a selection of her poems at ‘Beyond Words,’ a well-known South London poetry venue run by Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero.
At the end of the first half of the evening, following ‘poems from the floor, ‘ Nola came forward to read hers to an appreciative audience.
In the second half of the evening Roger Robinson and Nick Makoha read from their collections.
On Thursday March 22nd. Nola Turner and Ruth Smith attended an event at The Geographical Society, Kensington where Simon Armitage was in conversation with Martine Croxall about his life and work. It is now some time since his first collection ‘Zoom!’ which Simon now describes as his entry point into the world of poetry. Now in his mid-fifties, he has recently published ‘The Unaccompanied,’ his 11th. collection of poetry.
Unfortunately, just as Simon Armitage was getting into his swing, the fire alarm went off and everyone was guided to a spot outside the building. A fire engine quickly arrived and we were very soon back inside but with a reduced audience for the rest of the conversation.
The main conversation was about two books ‘Walking Home’ and ‘Walking Away’ the first being an account of his walk along the Pennine Way. In fact he walked it ‘the wrong way round’ as the idea was to walk home to the village of Marsden where he was born. Simon described it as a test both of his stamina and his poetic reputation as he gave readings every night in pubs, village halls, churches and private houses in return for board and lodging. Money was collected in a sock passed round for that purpose. He described the walking as ‘harder on my smile than on my feet.’
‘Walking Away’ is another troubadour quest along the South West Coastal path. At his daughter’s suggestion, Simon recorded his thoughts by speaking into his phone. A notebook would have involved too much stopping and starting.
Simon described himself as a ‘kitchen-sink- poet,’ interested in the details of everyday life leading to the universal. He talked a little about his rendering of Gawain and the Green Knight saying, ‘that, in itself, is a great travel poem.’ He said, interestingly, that one good thing about being a poet is that ‘you own the page’ as each poem stands on its own with white space around it