We were sorry to lose Muriel as a member but happy that she is moving close to her family who own property in Ireland. Doubtless we will hear about the new life she she is so looking forward to.
Muriel on the left.
Muriel has been indefatigable in her organization of the tea rota and has taken an enthusiastic part in readings at care homes and other venues. Last summer she took some of us round Westminster Cathedral where she acted as a guide.
We shall miss Muriel for her cheerfulness and the active part she played at Committee meetings when she was Treasurer. It was owing to Muriel that we had a Poetry Cup to present to the winner of a poetry competition at St. Olaves School.
On leaving Muriel donated a pale blue glass tankard engraved with the Kentish horse, perhaps to be used as a future prize.
Three meetings have been held since the end of February including our AGM on March 14th. This was particularly well attended and conformed to the usual format of Officers’ reports and the election of a committee. As Diane Chorley had come to the end of her three year term as President, Ruth Smith, the former Vice President, was inaugurated to take over that role. Nola Turner became Vice President in her place. Jane Knight took over from Muriel Letman as Treasurer and Isabel Turvey took over from Mavis Robinson as Secretary. The Membership Secretary, Christine Pope, has kept the office and told us that although we have lost members for various reasons we have acquired new ones and our total membership remains the same. We were very pleased to have a full committee and grateful to those who had already served.
Special thanks and a gift was given to Diane Chorley for all her efforts on our behalf with appreciation given for her gift of instantly connecting with people.
After the meeting, Jim Lord from the Avenues Group addressed the Circle. The Avenues assists people with learning disabilities or who have other complex needs. Two of us had already volunteered to help on a short project and one member also offered her services.
Isabel’s first full collection was well and truly launched at a well-attended event on Sat. Oct. 1st at The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith. Several members of the SPC were there to hear Isabel read in an upstairs room with views of the river.
Isabel’s publisher, David Pearman, said a few words. He reminisced about how he had first met Isabel at an event connected with Agenda poetry Magazine, describing her as ‘an interesting woman.’ Isabel subsequently sent him her manuscript which must have impressed him greatly as he had cut down his activities to publish only the work of poets already well known to him. He praised Isabel’s knack of catching the moment and getting to the kernel of things.
Isabel read just a few poems and even before she read people had her book in their hands. Simon ought to be mentioned for his amusing introduction and general bustling around to help things run smoothly. It was a great event and we are very proud of her. Many members have subsequently bought Isabel’s book with extra copies for friends.
After the Easter break we were saddened to hear of Roy’s death. He had begun attending our meetings about three years ago and contributed enthusiastically.
Then illness took its toll and he was no longer able to come.
Knowing how much Roy enjoyed poetry his family asked if one of us would be willing to read a poem at his funeral. This invitation was gladly taken up. Nola Turner and Ruth Smith attended Roy’s funeral and Ruth read Christina Rossetti’s poem, ‘Let Me Go.’ Roy’s sister-in-law, Caroline, conveyed the family’s thanks.
I didn’t come across poetry much until 1992 when my attention was drawn to Wendy Cope’s ‘Serious Concerns’ (Faber & Faber). It was the first time I’d seen a poem that made me want to read another one.
Fast forward just a few years, and you’ll find me thoroughly hooked on modern poetry, but knowing virtually nothing ‘of old’. When I came across the Shortlands Poetry Circle (via the Poetry Library), which turned out to be local to me, I decided to take time off work so that I could attend a meeting.
The topic was ‘Fire and Water’ and I really enjoyed searching for poems to read, finally settling on Betjeman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’ (Captain Webb) and Ted Hughes’s ‘Rain Charm for the Duchy’ (just the first part, up until he gets expansive with the rivers!)
I was very impressed with the Circle Members – imagine! A whole organisation with the sole aim of enjoying poetry? This was a different world to the one I lived in. They made me very welcome. Their knowledge was (is!) extensive and they were (are…) very good readers. It was another ten years before I had regular afternoons free and could join as a Member. I love it and I’m still coming across poets I haven’t heard of and poems I haven’t come across by poets whose work I know.
I was lucky enough to have had a very good English teacher at school, took English at A.L and started teaching at school with a good reputation for the arts, but sadly, although I was a voracious reader of literature, I found little time to pursue my latent interest in poetry.
Dianne Chorley (center)
It wasn’t until I became an H.M.I. and spent many hours in hotels around the country, that I found the time to explore a range of poetry styles. I had one or two colleagues who were also interested but we didn’t get much further than haikus! Too much time writing reports that were evidence- based gave little time for imaginative thought.
I was introduced to the Circle by Anne Stooke and, although apprehensive initially, found members very welcoming, especially when I offered to keep a record of the poems read during our sessions! I must confess to being somewhat in awe , and still am, of those members who actually write poems.Through the fortnightly meetings, the themes chosen have given me ample opportunity to remind myself of the great poets of earlier generations and also to explore contemporary poets, including those from overseas. I am enjoying being ‘the first amongst equals’ as President and am very grateful to the committee and members for their support.