A slightly thinner crowd than usual, more due to illness than to any disinterest in the poetry of Byron and Shelley.
We were grateful to Ann Barlow for her summary of both poets’ lives and work, then the reading began. More than one person read excerpts from Byron’s ‘Don Juan’ and we paid tribute to Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ and ‘Ode To A Skylark.’ In all, eleven of Shelley’s poems were read and thirteen of Byron’s. It was good to be reacquainted with these two poets and to hear their stories.
For the last 20 years of my working life I was a librarian at Goldsmiths College, New Cross. On retiring , I decided I wanted to have more to do with poetry. I found details of Shortlands Poetry Circle in the Bromley Arts Council Diary. I still remember the two poems I read at my first meeting in September 1995: Edwin Muir’s “The horses” and “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte.
Some of my favourite poems are: “Rondeau” (Jenny kissed me) by James Leigh Hunt, “The Roman Centurion’s Song” by Rudyard Kipling and “Horatius (kept the bridge” by Lord Macaulay. I have found that poets I thought I did not like, improve on listening to others reading them in an afternoon. Being a member has made me more familiar with contemporary poets, which encourages me to go to hear them reading.
I have in the past served on the Committee as a general member (2 years), President (4 years) and Treasurer (1 year). I currently print out the termly Programmes to distribute to members, and research biographies of the poets that we read every other meeting. With Muriel Letman I have organised some Circle members to give two Poetry Readings at St George’s church, Beckenham.
Shortlands Poetry Circle is one of the most enjoyable parts of my life.