We started the Summer Term on April 23rd. with an Open Choice Session. It had not escaped members that this was St. George’s Day and was also the supposed birthday of William Shakespeare. In several cases a member’s choice of poem reflected this.
But first a fascinating account from Anne Stewart of the Hindu Epic Mahabharata and its modern retelling by Carole Satyamurti who adapted iambic pentameter to re-narrate this remarkable poem in all its complexity, displaying a real feeling for it.
AGM 12th. March 2019.
This was attended by fifteen members with three apologies for absence. Despite having to say goodbye to members who have moved or are in the process of moving, the SPC still has a steady and loyal core of members. We hope for the return of Lesley McLetchie when her medical difficulties have been resolved.
Our Treasurer, Jane Knight, announced another sound and uncomplicated year for our finances and our Membership Secretary, Christine Pope, gave out a questionnaire for members’ response with ideas for attracting new members. We have recently gained one new full member and two associates but it would be nice to have more.
Isabel Turvey was thanked for undertaking the duties of Secretary both of the writers’ and readers’ groups. It is only increased work hours that have made it difficult for Isabel to continue in these roles.
Following the main meeting, members read one short poem each.
Meeting of March 26th.
The topic of this meeting was The Seven Deadly Sins. Lust was the sin that figured most in the poems that were chosen, followed by Wrath, Avarice, Envy, Gluttony and Sloth which was celebrated (if that’s the word) in only one poem.
Meeting of 12th. Feb. Meetings and Encounters
This was a fertile subject although surprisingly no-one read any poems by Wordsworth. Browning’s ‘Meeting At Night ‘ was read and Thomas Hardy’s ‘At The Drapers’ while there were two poems by Wendell Berry. George Macbeth had what might have been his first airing at one of our meetings.
Our guest, Christina Webster, read ‘Meeting You At An Underground Station’ by Gillian Allnutt. and Elizabeth Bishop was represented by ‘Manners For A child in 1918.’ It is always good to have a mixture of old and new.
Meeting of 26th. Feb.
This meeting was preceded by a talk from Angela Brodie who, together with Caroline Vero, provides a venue for both local and established poets to read and be enjoyed. At present Angela and Caroline are taking a break as the The Gipsy Tavern needs the space for preparing and serving food.
It is hoped that ‘Beyond Words’ will continue in another venue as it has been so stimulating and friendly with some of the best modern poets coming to read from their work. Four members of the SPC have attended ‘Beyond Words’ events regularly and will be very pleased to see its return.
Angela is a poet in her own right and also talked about the writing of ‘Salt Music,’ a sequence of poems she has written about the Hull trawling community, reading some excerpts so we could get a flavour of her work. ‘Salt Music’ has been read here and in Hull itself and has also been put to music by Steve Halliwell from ‘Little Machine,’
During the rest of the meeting members read poems by H W Longfellow, Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman with Longfellow dominating the afternoon. There was one poem by Edgar Allen Poe, two by Walt Whitman and Anne Stewart treated us to a poem by Peter Veale which was an answer to ‘The Raven’ by Poe.
The Last Parent
Second full UK collection The Last Parent, Second Light Publications, 2019.
This book includes a wide selection of Anne Stewart’s poems new since The Janus Hour(Oversteps 2010) together with a highly original sequence of some 30 poems under the eponymous title The Last Parent, which focuses on the bereaved daughter’s role as Executor, juxtaposing the responses of both, where the struggle is, on the one hand, with grieving and memories and, on the other, with practical tasks and demanding paperwork.
Combining such disparate subject-matters explores, in an informative, helpful, documentary style, territory where contemporary poetry rarely treads.
Pre-order offer: buy in advance of publication discounted to £7 (from £9.95). Order Form or from the poetry p f online shop.
Meeting of Jan 8th. Open Choice
Ten people attended this meeting as illness seems to have taken its toll in addition to which two members have moved or are in the process of moving house to other counties.
As usual the choice of poems ranged widely from Shakespeare to Anon and included ‘Diagnosis’ by Sharon Olds, ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling and ‘Christmas Birthday’ by Dorothy Wordsworth.
Meeting of Jan 22nd. Kathlee Jamie, Gillian Clarke, Sinnead Morrissey.
In this meeting we had a snapshot of work by three contemporary female poets – Kathleen Jamie, Gillian Clarke and Sinead Morrissey. Thirteen poems by Kathleen Jamie were read, ten by Gillian Clarke and three by Sinead Morrissey.
We were pleased to see our occasional visitor – Michael Bobb.
Full Moon: A Night of Poetry and Science
On Thursday 6th December 2018, 7pm, The Shaw Theatre, London. £12. To celebrate 20 years of Poetry Live and 10 years of Science Live, we are holding a unique event, bringing together the most celebrated names in poetry and science, featuring Carol Ann Duffy, Robert Winston, Simon Armitage, Jim Al-Khalili, John Agard, Alice Roberts, Imtiaz Dharker, Steve Jones and many more. Proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Nola Turner and Ruth Smith attended this very enjoyable event at the Shaw Theatre, enjoying the poetry and being fascinated by the science.
On November 14th. members of the SPC attended a poetry reading which was one of a series presented by Jill Abrams. The series is known as ‘Stablemates.’ and each event features conversation and poetry with three poets from one publisher. On this occasion the event was held at Waterstones, Gower Street, and the poets were Mark Doty, Andrew McMillan and Fiona Benson of Jonathon Cape. Coincidentally the Poetry Editor of Cape, poet Robin Robertson, was up for the Goldsmith’s Prize of £10.000 for his verse novel ‘The Long Take.’ During the second part of the evening it was announced that he had won the prize.
Jill Abram had taken the opportunity to book the American poet Mark Doty for this event as he was passing through London at this time. Described by poet Ruth Padel as ‘a poet of glow’ Mark lived up to his reputation as he read some new poems straight from his laptop. He was the first American to win to win the TS Eliot prize and his latest collection with Cape is ‘Deep Lane’
Andrew McMillan made a stunning debut with his collection ‘Physical’ which won the Guardian first book award beside other honours. Writing in Guardian Review, McMillan explained that all he ever hoped for his poetry was that it should ‘live sincerely in the world and take everything that happened, turn it, distil it, and give it back to the reader – in the hopes it might move them, or be ‘useful’. His second collection ‘Playtime’ was published in August.
Fiona Benson read from her upcoming collection ‘Vertigo and Ghost’. Her previous work has been shortlisted for both TS Eliot and Forward prizes. She read some powerful poems from her Zeus sequence about Zeus as a serial rapist, for whom woman are prey and sex is weaponised.
Come and join Christine and Jane for a fun afternoon of Poetry and Prosecco.
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.
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.