I had checked out the location earlier and bobbed in to say Hi to Dennis at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop. I gave myself plenty of time to get there. Then my phone maps app took me on a scenic route by changing my destination to The Pitt Rivers Museum. This meant I arrived back at the point I had started out from twenty minutes later and set back off in the opposite direction arriving at the Albion Beatnik a few minutes before doors. I bought a glass of wine and started meeting poets and audience and settled after ten minutes of this. Sarah Bryson: Sarah’s take on the space theme, as the space left by an Aunt’s dementia and subsequent death, was powerful. Her mirror poem was well-executed. ‘Outside, under a dull sky/fat white feathers accumulate/covering the tarmac’s black gaps as I watch.’ which was mirrored at the end with ‘Covering the tarmac’s black gaps as I watch/fat white feathers accumulate/outside, under a dull sky.’ Samir Guglani: In the poem Fireworks – a striking space-themed stanza ‘a constellation of freckles/as if you were the sky/or an inversion of it, reached for,/ lived in but always just gone.’ captures a lot. Then in Fingerprints (a recurring theme of the night), ‘Look at how we start, like fortune-tellers, at the hands. Here by the window, where ward meets world, I examine this man’s, turn them over like found leaves.” Samir Guglani is the curator of the incredible and stunning conference: Medicine Unboxed: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/medicine-unboxed-mortality-tickets-16304418956 Jennifer McGowan: Jennifer treated us to a full space-themed set. From her poem Lightyears: ‘So we could prove we tried./We shone and consumed like suns/ but by the time your light reached me,/you was gone.’ Jennifer’s observation time flowing differently inside with the Italian frescos rang true: In the poem Snapshot – Yesterday: ‘I smudge/my fingerprint under Eve’s foot, here./You will see it, and know’. The idea of leaving a fingerprint for someone to find makes me smile. www.jenniferamcgowan.com Alan Buckley: I could taste the ‘peat and iodine burn of a single malt drunk from an antique flask’ and I think the first place I appreciated single malt was at the Arvon week Alan and I met at seven years ago. ‘All that/ matters is the recognising touch,/one skin finding its home/ in the other.’ https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/poets-in-oxford/alan-buckley/ Hilda Sheehan: The line ‘wealth hopes us into a corner.’ says so much about the election outcome in five words. ‘I have washing-up to finish and a front page to believe in.’ Hilda’s pamphlet Frances and Martine is available through Dancing Girl Press: http://www.dancinggirlpress.com/ http://www.poetryswindon1.blogspot.co.uk/p/news.html Penelope Kease: I enjoyed this take on the theme as personal space. I love the vision in Water Meadows of the old willows ‘at the ramshackle edges/ of the water and the land’. My Dad’s a balloon, my mother’s the string started with the lines ‘She’ll fray and break and on that day he’ll float/into new adventurous skies’. Claire Trévien: The space a person has inhabited take on the theme captivated me. ‘The house is dragged apart by the absence of your smiles.’ ‘I still sing lyrics to the wrong tune/and imagine you, furiously rescuing/each damaged chorus in your hands/like a small snail.’ The idea of skin that is ‘littered with deaths’ and the menace or promise of the line ‘only the young know my tune./and it swallows their hearts.’ http://www.clairetrevien.co.uk/ http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2013/02/the-shipwrecked-house/ Sarah Watkinson: Her poem about ‘Birds being made of light.’ came second in the 2014 Battered Moons competition. ‘Time still comes in lines, life in boxes of dates.’ we don’t know what time is, so we talk of it in terms of space. ‘My father’s bear‘ lives on my desk now. But back then, as part of a memory of her father; ‘Home from the army, you took Bear from your pocket, placed him on the pub table like a small portable comrade . . .’ – the poem came out at the end of May in Pennine Platform, issue 77. https://sarahcwatkinson.wordpress.com/ Ben Parker: Ben introduced his set with a preamble about Van Gogh sketching views from windows ‘faithful to the ordinary’ I enjoyed his randomly numbered titles – after the first that was tied to a real flat number. The magical poem about ‘fashioning your searching hand into an approximation of the lost object’ and ‘the way to hold your hands for love’ was potent. http://www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk/ Sarah Maitland-Parks: ‘If I were to make a promise, it would be to somehow make separation beautiful.’ Wow! Also, the idea in At the Checkout of the people you share all with at bus-stops or school-gates (when you need to) being ‘emergency services’. This latter poem is here in The Stare’s Nest: http://thestaresnest.com/2015/01/14/sarah-maitland-parks-two-poems/comment-page-1/ http://shinynewcomputer.blogspot.co.uk/ Sarah Bryson brought me a small glass vase with wild flowers as a gift. As I was travelling back by train I decided to leave flowers around Oxford on the way home the next day. So I left a rose on a bike, some cow parsley in a phone box and weaved cornflowers through the railings of a disused toilet. Look out for a poem soon called Leaving flowers in Oxford. Also, more than half of the people in the Albion Beatnik decamped to a local curry house and we had wine and food. Love an end to the evening when I can let go of the being in charge and I am always keen to share the post-gig poetry buzz.
Poems about hospital and kindness swamped this night and this was not surprising a week after an election shock and in a Labour Club. More poems about the good and the kind, I say. More poems about the good and the kind, I say. Yey! for nourishers and everyday heroes and random acts of kindness. Ailsa Holland: In her poem about the uncelebrated heroes and things not in the news specifics add to the news report feel along with formal language. The roads and names of those involved make it feel possible, not just an imagined utopia. Someone stole into a garden on Paradise Street/discreet as an assassin/ took down the clean washing/folded it with cold-blooded precision/ and left it in a basket under the back porch/just before the rain started./ (from ‘Fixer’ Strikes at Heart of Community) Find Ailsa here: www.moormaidpress.co.uk https://about.me/ailsaholland Midnight Shelley: In her poem Come scream with me she spoke of “words dedicated to those whose mouths never allow them to share their story.” “Come scream with me!/Clockwork the hand/heartbeat the rhyme.” In her love poem to a best friend Alex Park in the Early Hours: The Forever Space: ‘A piece of me will always be in the forever space with you.” is an interpretation of space intertwined with memory. https://www.youtube.com/user/MidnightVerses Charlotte Ansell: addressed the post-election malaise with: “This is why we can’t have nice things. It took just weeks to demolish the Bohemia… They will smash up what even in the first place wasn’t much…” then a line about the management “preferring to announce the problem than mend the broken glass. Maybe it is also an epitaph to hope.” I do so hope not. Charlotte’s two collections available here: https://www.flippedeye.net/ John Mills: John introduced Parkinson’s Disease at the outset and the fact he might ‘vibrate gently’. Little Louis, a poem about a brain-damaged child was tough on the audience and performer. The sing-song rhythm of it made the truth even more shocking. The damage happened because his Dad hit his head against a wall when he was 12 days old. I have written in my notes BASTARD!!!!! John and Liz are in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5QCnZ2ASAA Sarah Thomasin: I loved “The Quiet Woman’ and the story about the bus-stop being labelled the The Quite Woman and the reason she was Quiet is because her head chopped off. One way of stopping a compere going on, I suppose. In her space-themed poem, Horoscope, we are instructed to “look up at the sky/past the sequins in velvet./Just try it.” Her poem about misogynists wasting away because they can’t make sandwiches without women brought some levity the room. https://wordgeekery.wordpress.com/ Mavis Moog: While listening to her poem Plum Sunday I could smell the mint at my feet and the feel the weight of the plums as I reached up to test their ripeness. I also like to learn things and the Araucaria Monkey Puzzle tree cross-words poem captivated me. No Link Available. Ruth Aylett: Ooo! The scale of space here: “The long exhale of the universe/always moving apart/never coming back together.” And more space in Ruth’s Turing poem : “Write space and space and space. Where logic is not decidable. Death is.” http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html Joy France: In Joy’s set we received broken biscuits and patchouli soaked poems. The poem is in my notebook and I can still smell it now. I loved the fact Joy had done a haiku for both themes – Volume and Space. I had included both 2014 and 2015 theme in the email (Oops). See Joy here: https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=joy%20france%20home%20truths Chris Woods: Chris read two poems about not being there. Firstly, a space-themed one On not seeing Halley’s Comet and later on in his set about turning up the wrong week for a poetry event ‘enjoying the wrong time again’ Spontaneous nights are often the best. In Black Holes he described people who are “taking everything from everything.” No link available. Claire-Jane Carter could not make the event due to a last minute emergency. I read a few more poems to fill this time. The audience enjoyed the mix of styles and themes. After the event and a pint with poets and punters I started looking through 100 photos of Mid Shelley for one where she is still. I bought an extra half while I laughed to myself in the corner of the Labour Club about how blurry she could be.