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 fonline shop.
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.
Anne ran this workshop on Form and Creativity in response to requests from the Writers’ Group.
It was held in the function room of The Daylight Inn Petts Wood where we sat round a white-clothed table with plenty of paper and coffee on tap.
By the end of the day we had learned about three forms – the ghazal, the glose and terza rima. Not only this but we were trying them on for size and beginning to use them. In many cases it was surprising what emerged in so short a time.
Many thanks to Anne for her enthusiasm and considerable knowledge. It was pleasurable to stretch our wings without too many bumpy landings
Two of our members were involved in this event , Sezgin Kemal as an organiser and Anne Stewart as one of three invited poets. The other two were Joelle Taylor, professional spoken word artist, published poet and playwright and Alan Brownjohn, at one time poetry editor of The New Statesman and Chair of the Poetry Society. The evening was jointly hosted by the UCL Institute of Education, Radical Neuroscience Research at UCL, St. Olave’s Grammar School and The Royal Society of Arts.
To a full audience containing many young people Anne Stewart, Joelle Taylor, and Alan Brownjohn read a selection of their poems and Hamish Stewart said something about Radical Neuroscience at UCL explaining that by 2050 their research into Alzheimers will benefit a million people a year in the UK. The UCL is second only to Harvard in this area and Professor John Hardy won the Breakthrough Prize for his work.
It was a fascinating mix and left one wondering which areas of the brain are lit up by the writing and performance of poetry. The poets were invited to take part in a discussion at the end of the evening and talked about their experience of the poetic process.
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.
The first meeting of the new term was attended by 17 people. It began with a talk by Mavis Robinson on how, on behalf of the SPC, she reads to a partially-sighted group in Bromley. One thing has led to another and she now also reads to a lunchtime gathering at St. Marks Church together with Christine Pope. Members of both groups have expressed their wish for the readings to become a regular event.
There was no specified theme for this meeting so members read poems of their own choosing, some of them influenced by recent happenings. As a pamphlet by Isabel Bermudez is shortly coming out, Anne Stewart read Isabel’s poem ‘Racer.’ PJ Kavanagh’s death has been recently announced so Diane Chorley chose to read his poem, The Temperance Billiard Room.’ Patsy Paine read ‘Manly Ferry’ by Clive James from his collection ‘Sentenced To Life’
The range of poems read was, as usual, wide with Milton, Blake, Wordsworth and Hardy well represented but also Kate Foley, Esther Morgan and a local poet who had a connection to Ripley, Ted Walter.
The weather was fine when Anne and Diane arrived to set out our table in the garden of Ripley Arts Centre. Others came to help as they always do.
We had books for sale and packs of poetry p f cards but saw our role mainly as engaging with people and talking about what we do,
We were of course very willing to read them a poem. They had only to draw a title from a glass bowl. Another option was to write a haiku to hang on our ‘tree’
and some people did after enjoying the examples. Or, they could add to a line written on one side of a bookmark. We even had a calligrapher at hand to celebrate their creativity. When the rain came he continued his work under a plastic sheet.
One of the pleasures of the afternoon was the conversations we had with pleasant and interesting people. We hope that the afternoon brought
greater awareness of the Shortlands Poetry Circle.
This event was organized by Harris Academy Beckenham who wanted to encourage participation from the community. As the whole event was to be a celebration of the written and spoken word we were contacted and agreed to fill two half hour slots with readings of a miscellany of poems ancient and modern, comic and serious.
For the first slot we decided on a theme of Words, and for the second we read poems that were connected in some way with Action. Maggie Hoyle was applied to for ideas and members of the team made a contribution. So, folders in hand, we entered the Creative Canopy and read, mainly to friends and relatives it must be said, competing at one stage with a singer and band in full spate just a tent wall away.
The interval between readings was spent tranquilly in Sheila and Brian Corrins’ garden but there was time to see a few of the many events that were going on and admire the quotation quilt, the Poe Tree and the Edible Book competition with its inventive entries. Fun, even though the logistics were not always in our favour and thanks to everyone for two great readings. Two members of the audience requested copies of UA Fanthorpe’s ‘Dear Mr Lee’ so seeds were sown.
The readers were Sheila Corrin, jane Knight, Keith Massey, Mavis Robinson, Ruth Smith and Anne Stewart.
This was the last meeting before Easter and the theme was ‘Heavens Above’ which prompted poems on planets, stars, clouds, night and heaven itself. Wordsworth and Gerard Manley Hopkins were well-represented, as was William Blake and we were treated to spirited readings of ‘Twinkle, twinkle Little Star’ and John Agard’s ‘Coffee In Heaven.’ Other poets visited were Maura Dooley, Penelope Shuttle. Anne Stewart and Daphne Cloag with an extract from her poem ‘Beginnings’ A poem was read from Simon Armitage’s ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ one of 88 poems which receives its title from a constellation. We look forward to recommencing our activities on April 28th.