4th February 2019 Puzzle Poets Sowerby Bridge
28th February 2019 Uncut Poets Exeter
29th March 2019 Word Club Leeds
More dates to be confirmed
‘Here dance the figures of anger, frustration, resentment and desire, following the skewed steps of Surrealist spells and charms for coping. Dixon’s pithy and often unsettling poems are populated by creatures and people on the threshold of metamorphoses, having been pushed to the limits of themselves and in doing so reach for revelations that lie beneath the rational order of things.’
A cabinet of curiosities, Dixon casts her spell in spilled wax and wash days, roses pegged to washing lines and days that start without knickers. These poems search for alchemy within the domestic, they dig through the ash to find stars. Angela Readman
Sarah Dixon’s second book is one of dizzying, dream like fantasy, edged with vulnerability. These strange, often humorous, often moving poems swim like goldfish in a pond, rising to the surface to greet the reader in flashes of light and love. This is a collection of sharp surprises and tongue in cheek observations of life and love, where one is never quite sure what is real and what is not. A perfectly lovely collection of Monty pythonesque poems. Wendy Pratt
Electric rain sparks off Wedgwood carpets as the everyday is made strange and startling. These poems nestle together in a mosaic of dedication as tributes to transformation, and the testing (and shattering) of boundaries. Steve Nash
Thanks firstly to the festival staff for looking after us so well and for getting a brilliant venue for the event and finding some funding so I could pay performers a fee.
We champions of Pallion,
we builders of ships,
we pipework wranglers.
We sons of Hendon
and Roker daughters
caught by the nets
of a slaughter trawler
who stripped our streets,
shutdown our shops,
took food from the mouths
of the bairns of the town.
We stand sundered
made from the stuff
the south cannot dream of.
The tide is ours
and it is due in.
by Harry Gallagher
Harry told us ‘the sun is a ghost’ and ‘Miss Cassidy chuckled at the softest of heroes ‘. Then, Harry ‘puts an arm around midnight’ and ‘the dark is reclaimed by frosted foxes.’ Harry’s poem ‘Sundered’ above was written in response to a prompt to write a piece about the local area and he was so quick of the mark with it that is was used in the promotional material for the festival too.
Judi Sutherland: Judi’s take of sundered land was a political piece that talked of ‘the chasm running through us that is wider than a river.’ and ‘the toss of a coin that is double-sided’. In her Jo Cox poem the line ‘ all your future selves collapse into a bullet-hole.’ stunned me.
Find more about Judi here: http://www.judisutherland.com/
Tony’s poetry was largely about the fact he has had head and neck surgery and the value of having a voice. Lines that particularly stood out for me were: ‘Still I’m honoured to keep my gift of a voice.’ and then about spoken words ‘My life, this voice, spoken words, I savour every one of them never knowing if it will be my last.’ I loved your line in the local industry poem about ‘bottle glass works offer gifts from the sea, of ultramarine amber and ruby gems.’
Tony’s page is here: http://tonygadd.com/about
I loved the refrain of a poem Bob co-wrote with children ‘We’ll send a ship across the sea from Sunderland’ and I particularly loved ‘a piece of sea-coal from Seaham sands.’ Bob’s poem about the National Day of Mourning in Estonia, Leinapaev ‘the trees stand singing songs that run through their rings’. Oh, and the music in his words in other poems ‘into each season’s amnesia ‘ and ‘murmurs the mottle logic of eggshells.’
Listen to Bob here with music by S J Forth: https://soundcloud.com/projectlono-1/leinapaev/
Juli stepped in 6 hours’ notice and so did not have a piece about the local area. Juli told us of her time spent working with adolescents in a secure forensic psychiatric unit ‘dress it with dignity, dress it as if it was your child.’
And she her talk of ‘when we meet it , hot breath and cold glass – flashing your fishing-hook smile’ reminded me of a recent return to the world of ‘dating’ and the shock and melt of hot breath and contrast of fabric and skin. Then, Juli tells us of ‘spring amidst the grey winter of routine.’ A simple moment of pleasure when a patient who couldn’t communicate verbally seemed to ‘dance’ in her wheelchair.
Find Juli’s assemblage pieces here: https://juliwatson.weebly.com/poetry-assemblage.html
Poets who were sadly missed due to lurgy and house moves were Pippa Little, Mandy Maxwell and Laura Lawson.
Thanks to Bob Beagrie, Tony Gadd and Juli Watson for stepping in at short notice. Thanks to Judi Sutherland (and Big Frank) for letting me stay and feeding me and Harry Gallagher for the pint on Newcastle Brown Ale.
The Quiet Compere and beyond Sunderland
I performed a short set too about belonging and movement. As I had never been to Sunderland before I wrote a poem about buses as I thought that was safe territory, rather than muddling up local myth and history and industries. The bus poem is below.
What next for Quiet Compere? I have bids in to Huddersfield Litfest and am preparing one for Swanwick Writers School. I am a regular visitor at Marsden Poetry Village and hope more will happen in that direction over the next few months.
I have been quite tied up with moving area, house, job and Frank moving school and the pamphlet plans – launch is 24th November in Leeds.
Watch this space…
Park Lane Interchange
The classical music
and choreographed buses.
all the waiting home
or closer to that.
35A, Black Cats 2, 60 Drifter,
Stagecoach, Arriva, Go North East.
Silksworth, Marley Pots, Barnes.
Fred Stratton is missed
with his Marshall-bodied Dominators from Darlo,
Dennis Lancets from Blackpool
his Leyland Lynxes, Titans and Olympians.*
The classical music
and choreographed buses.
all the waiting home
or closer to that.
and the slow promise
of a destination.
*Redby of Sunderland Flickr
These are beautifully crafted poems which will speak to everyone. Telling the story of the loss of love – and a return to life – “The Sky is Cracked” is as beautiful as it is sad, as delicate as it is plainspoken. Sarah Dixon’s poetry holds the reader close, and then offers up its rich layers of meaning. Like good whisky, I could taste this short collection long after I’d read it – and I wanted more.
This is poetry that “shimmies along the dado rail” to speak memorably of “the grumble of gravel under trainers.” Rich in imagery and with a wealth of truths, we’d be poorer without these poems.
Photo by Kev Howard
Bob Beagrie lives in Middlesbrough and is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University as well as being a co-director of Ek Zuban Press & Literature Development. He has published eight collections of poetry to date and his work has been translated into French, Estonian, Spanish, Finnish, Dutch, Danish and Urdu.
Pippa Little is Scots but settled in Northumberland. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her second full collection Twist came out in March this year from Arc.
Mandy Maxwell is a poet from Northumberland. In 2009 Mandy completed an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle Uni. Mandy has performed in venues across the UK and has been published in pamphlets, zines, anthologies and online. In 2015 Mandy began running The Stanza poetry and spoken word events to bring new and established writers with their words and voices to the stage in the North East.
Judi Sutherland is a poet who lives in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and in a chapbook which she shares with Lancashire poet, Jim Burns; ‘Dark Matter VI’ from Black Light Engine Room Press. She is the proprietor of The Stare’s Nest poetry webzine and she is working on her first pamphlet for publication early in 2018.
Sarah L Dixon runs regular events in Manchester/Huddersfield. She hosted a medical-themed poetry event at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2014. Sarah has toured as The Quiet Compere since 2014 and received Arts Council funding for 24 events in 2014 and 2015. Quiet Compere events enlist established poets and emerging voices.
The Quiet Compere introduces them with little fanfare, so the poems (and not the poet’s track record) tell you all you need to know.