I was introduced to poetry during my early schooldays by a ferocious teacher who read William Blake’s ‘The Tiger’ with such power and conviction that I was utterly overwhelmed. Then came ballads, the poetry of Walter de la Mare and ‘A Child’s Garland Of Verses’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.
After this early flush of enthusiasm, poetry became something you had to learn by heart for homework but I loved reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth when I was older.
Many years later, when I retired from my job as an English teacher, I tried to write poetry, tutored by Matthew Sweeney and Maurice Riordan who put up with all my blunders and excesses. There was always a such a gulf between the poem I wanted to write and the one I produced. Things gradually improved, but what a long time it took!
I must have joined the SPC shortly after the Centenary Celebrations and enjoyed ferreting out poems to bring to the meetings and found myself in good company. I never imagined then that I would one day take on the Presidency having always considered myself something of a ‘backroom girl.’
I continue to write – rather slowly – and to read poetry aloud and it is the pleasure of my life.
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.
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.
Following a short talk by Ruth Smith on The Little Magazines’ the meeting proceeded with members’ choices of one long and one short poem to share with the group. On this occasion there was no theme or particular poet so the range was very wide, from Southey to Les Murray and much in between, both comic and serious. We were very pleased to welcome a visitor to the meeting who not only reads but writes poems and hope to see him again.