A backdrop of books, fingerprints and late butterflies or Blog of Oxford event – Stop 4 Quiet Compere National Tour 2015

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.

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