Vodka, patient ghosts and the key of self-destruct

The Bird Cage had a chippy that delivered to the venue. Happy Sarah installed with fish and chips and a Punk IPA. As Catherine Woodward was not available as the date moved nearer, she massively helped promote it but left me in the trustworthy hands of Rufus Lunn. Rufus was a lovely co-host and helped the event run smoothly as did Robbie (Tech for The Bird Cage), the venue was just the right size for the event. Every poet in the Norwich line-up had a different style, approach and theme. Kept the audience engaged and I thought there were only three types of poet until that night made me reassess my thinking. Ramona Herdman: @ramonaherdman The line that particularly struck me was “You look like you know the way out of the weight of the world” Loved all Ramona’s drink poems and the line “you hope it is a genie, but it is more like a ship.” And the poem about her Dad: ‘I leave a glass of Bells out at night – like kids, / I hope, still do for Father Christmas. It makes / the morning smell of you.’ Sophie Essex: @furlinedghettos Sophie’s set was sex themed, particularly the lines “somethings mouthed into her as though she is an orchard pregnant with tomorrow’s architecture” and love the juxtaposition of the care and the surrender in “red lips and wild caution.” Stuart Charlesworth: Stuart’s set was a medically tainted set. Having been a histology and post mortem secretary for 17 years and only ever known hospitals and hospital offices as a work environment his poems felt familiar.“It behaved like any wounded thing.” “it manifested over 6 weeks like a patient ghost.” “A cocktail of chemicals in your brain mimicked a power the moon had over the sea.” And “Two doctor’s signatures trapped your name.” Julie Gardner: Julie surprised us by “twisting the key of self-destruct” and made me laugh by having a character wooed “with homemade bread and poetry” Who would that not win over? Rufus Lunn: @LiveAndLunn As well as being a funny, organised and bouncy co-host Rufus performed an excellent set. From The Sentinel: “I swear by sword, or word of kiss. I will stand. Still.” Wow! And in Berlin, “Enclose me in a barbed wire embrace and prove to me you can disappear a person.” Russell J Turner:            The ‘Locking up Dancers’ poem stunned me. “shaking your sadness at the sun’s mistake.” “doomed to be the unwed wife who paints the walls of Plato’s cave.” And in The Dead Start Fires was the line “The dead have the consolation…of the quiet and the flames because the dead play games.” Julia Webb:                                        I enjoyed Julia’s sun theme. “You are on fire. You have accidently swallowed the sun… you could drink an ocean. You settle for a double vodka. The Sun approves.” I think the theme of drink ran somewhat deep in the sets on Thursday. The break-up poem “My account has been locked because of too many failed attempts.” Beautiful metaphor. And “The moon thinks of itself as an emergency.” Elizabeth Lewis Williams:                Elizabeth took us into Antarctic Convergence where “oxygen dances. It seems the water has swallowed the night sky.” “silence closes around the space you leave.” “slow spun tendrils of whale song.” and “Wilson’s petrels brooding over a universe of crushed stars.” Huni: No link available Huni was the hardest poet to make notes on because I was being pulled into the next line as I tried to note the one before. Lines I particularly like were “I am just a single breath in a hurricane, but I’m blowing though.” “I embrace the deeper parts of my unravelling.” “all the forests I burnt down creating space to plant new seeds.” “Let me at the horizon because I wanna soak up everything.” “I don’t wanna say too much, but I can never say enough, so I’ll let me actions do the talking and my tongue gather dust.” Richard Lambert: I loved the line from ‘Outskirts’ that has “sheets of newspaper cartwheeling to mishap.” And from ‘Swallow in the rain’ “ It is not that she likes me, more that the insects she likes rise at my heels.” I loved Norwich and the lanes and was reluctant to return home after a brief wander. I must go back for the poetry and the place.

An Allen key called Allen, nothing but storm and a trace of stars

I had an adventure on my way to The South Bank. Trying to find the shard I wandered into the familiar site of a Hospital (17 years in the NHS – I seem to be drawn to them) looking up and forwards all the time. I turned around and there was 100 stories of shard. Impressive and poetically non-existent! As I left the shard I decided to get myself a little lost and found a three hundred year old wooden staircase up to The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. Give somewhere a title like that and you give a poet and an ex-medical secretary no option. I paid the entry fee and took notes and photos, peered into cabinets at ancient cures and sneaked into a sixth form lecture and was told off for answering a question about surgery (forgetting myself). Then I went to The Poetry Library alone, yet spent hours among friends and rediscovered the poetry magazines I love and those I dislike. I left with a renewed enthusiasm for sending entries to Interpreter’s House and Popshot and notes about many other publications and the type, length, style, subject matter they choose. All with me in ink. Then a trip on a London bus, a swift pint and to the Hackney Attic to soak in the buzz of another Picturehouse (The first Quiet Compere gig away from home was at York’s The Basement (one of The Picturehouses group). Clarissa Aykroyd:                Clarissa captures a lack of choice beautifully with ‘He had to fly into the storm, because there was nothing but storm.” And from her Cairo poem “I am sky when I breathe, road when I run.” Loved the space between notes and Chopin poem and particularly the “Trace of stars across the keys.” Claire Collison: I worked at The Christie for 8 years as an Oncology Secretary and admire the honesty of patients sharing their experience, especially about the reactions of others: From Rules regarding leaning from windows the line: “they crave convention – all their mothers have highlights” and the gut-punch that here there is no hair to highlight and the final line “We all have nightmares of crones in orchards, don’t we?” I have a note about space being “leaky with joy”. Nicky Phillips: Tube poem – having been on enough in two days prior I appreciated this one. It was my first time traveling alone in London. In Circle Line, Nicky is “Deep below the chatter and excitement of a London Monday morning” “catch a smile – pin it to my face”. I enjoyed her Sunflowers that “bow this way and that, like a confident teenager”. Find two poems by Nicky here: Tom Gill: Loved a lot of his word play: Especially in the poem about Fashion: “Just give them more choice/They’ll all be trying them on soon.” “Let’s invest in a dress for anorexic buyers. Bring out a new Size 5 and pretend that that’s fine.” from #Magazines Also, Intuition Fees here: Gary from Leeds: For Christmas Gary wants his own bus-stop countdown timer so “ people will view my future sitting down, as not just sitting down anymore, but sitting down with purpose.” and the Allen key “he’s called Allen, frankly it suits him.” In the Life Achievements of Big Dave, the Dave of the title “Downed ten snakebites, swam three lines of the resort’s septic tank, went out without a shower, talked his way into the VIP Room, without a guestlist.” Gary here at Evidently Salford: Nina Simon: Loved the internet dating guy who took Nina “to a cheap Turkish diner in his dented Golf” though he had a Ferrari on his photo!” Her ‘space’ poem started… “Every night I stand at my window counting stars, one for each skeleton from my past” Natalie Shaw: Clytemnestra is steeped in passion and the raw anger “If you knew what it was to stretch yourself to fit a life, to watch a body you have made find itself and move and grow, you’d not make this, this nothing.” I also loved the line “It is when I describe you that things unravel” and in reminded me of talking about the parts of films that make me a cry and crying just talking about it. And a brilliant vision of all the babies watching the stars. “a whole new constellation just before baby massage began. ” Clytemnestra in Interpreter’s House Issue 58. Susan Castillo:    The poem about the American South, Ruthie, was heart-wrenching – the “no-one shouted. No-one raised their voices.” I can see how that attitude would “break your heart and drive you crazy.”. Loved Bibliophiles version of heaven “Caress their spines… never stop at endings.” Susan’s second collection is called “Abiding Chemistry” (Kelsay Books) Math Jones            Math was a gothic steamroller end to the evening in the best way possible. The lines that played me were “”…saw shoulders bright as the dripping moon at full.” “And I, with skin of broken scree.” “Saw colours deeper than the folded rose tipped with the beads of dew.” And “So naked with sorrow that I cannot raise my eyes to the sting of heaven.” All quotes are from the story of how Freya spent a night with each of four dwarf silversmiths, and was gifted the necklace, Brisingamen. I had bought some heart-patterned tights in Hackney and had had two days negotiating London with pride at avoiding crush-time on platforms and tubes. I asked directions to Whitechapel tube station and then tripped down a kerb in the middle of pavement. Who put that there? A short poem about clothing gathered on the tour (usually randomly because it is the item I forgot that time): Places dress me Small axes lie at my neck in Knutsford. Hull tattoos roses and lisianthus on my skin. Hackney ties my legs with trails of hearts trips me into the sting and pulse of playground knees. Leeds provides heels and feeds patent leather needs. Sarah L Dixon 2015 Never stop at endings! (Susan Castillo 2015)…

Inappropriate shoes, Star Trek Clerihews and spaces between the rings of Saturn or Camden Blog

Having arrived a couple of hours early I took my book The Ghost Map with me and searched out some streets on the map from the cholera epidemic of 1854. It was eerie listening to the sewer noise on the streets that suffered so much from not having this infrastructure. I had a pint of ale in the John Snow (the safer drink of choice in 1854 as the brewery had a dedicated water supply and this was not contaminated by the Broad Street pump). I had a pootle around Soho and bought some badges –like a teenaged Sarah! Then the venue. Phoenix Artist Club has twenty different types of seats (including aeroplane seats) and a low and heavily fabric-draped ceiling making it feel like a cross between being inside settee and being hugged by a huge bear. Emma Simon Emma started the night with a poem about inappropriate shoes “We’ve all spent nights under glitter ball stars in red stilettos!”. In  I loved the lines from The Circus of Possibilities “I’ve recruited women who dance with tigers and fire-eaters (perhaps too many fire-eaters).” and ” need the bite of winter on your skin, the struggle to pin down guy-ropes in a storm.” And I am not surprised The Parts of Ourselves We Leave With Former Lovers was commended in 2015 Battered Moons competition Laura McKee @Estlinin on Twitter In Laura’s space poem she says “I’ve lost the moon.” and “we all fall off the edge and get smaller.” In Secondary Modern you had perfect skin more space appears in the edible line “as if I were splattered with chocolate milk, as if I were made of stars.” Laura’s poem He asks me to call him was nominated as Best Single Poem in the Forward Prizes this year: Fran Isherwood From Safe as Houses “perspiration races down faces of lace-petticoated window panes.” and the story of the successful singer who gave it up to own a tripe shop in Bolton “ the stages of London, Paris and Rome. but Bolton, Lancs, was always his home.” And a space clerihew or two: “Captain Kirk/Travelled to work/By being teleported/No traffic jams were reported.” Zelda Chappel In Deciphering the sea for my baby so many lines grabbed me, these ones particularly, “she is the expanse we feel slipping through our digits. The clarity of cold would draw you up.” and ” a scream between two caves” “There are stories she needs to tell that don’t stop at fingertips”! From Love begins in Winter “so show/ me spring through tiny frames.” The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat by Bare Fiction is available here: Joshua Seigal The line about the most embarrassing moment ever ” I wanted the sea to wash over me like a shallow rock pool and I never wanted to cuddle anyone again.” Ahhhh! He got a lot of empathy for that one. And the comment about his only audience being Mum and Dad – I think every poet knows that gig!! Loved his best heckle “if you were a monkey, what kind of astronaut would you be?” Susan Evans All of Susan’s poems that grabbed me are published so please have a read of #Irony about the person who could not afford to go on the austerity march here: Silly Shoes is here: From her poem Brighton published in Prole 15 the line ‘It’s little London by the Sea, it’ Bombay Dreams, it’s Gay Paree!’ Cathy Dreyer No link available The poem for two voices with the contrast of the peril of not quite following a recipe correctly and life in balance was striking. And the poem about her girls: “life was so much heavier and faster than any one of us ever expected. We are their early universe. Trying to make the bouncing be dance.” Lucy Furlong “Look at electric constellations, drifted into space, vanished, came down as someone else.” Spaces between rings of Saturn have names – I love the space between things and find this a fascinating concept. “I fell through existence.” “I counted all the moons and became friends with all the satellites.” Ella Jane Chappell         Twitter – @ellajchappell Ella stood in with four hours’ notice. The fact all her poems were space or science-based was a happy coincidence for the space theme. I smiled at the rhythm of the phrase “fool-hardy carbon” and the poem ‘Hokum Sands’ where ‘thoughts only of the goodbyes we need to say, and the wind that will sweep them away’ and then, “She tastes of a note echoing in the hallway.” “A thunderstorm within a marble”. Jamie Spracklen I like the fact being told he couldn’t read made him a poet. I felt the rawness in these lines about anniversaries “navigating grief – The final tragedy which tattoos you,/Eternally, in some sort of frozen grace… Undone and naked/ By the sheer fragility/Of your final fire.” “I found your embrace again/ In the quiet of the unhurried sky”.