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
Warning: This is longer than my usual blogs as it is trying to cover the Poetry Swindon weekend, rather than just Quiet Compere event.
I knew before I arrived at Poetry Swindon this was going to be the friendliest place to spend my 40th birthday weekend having met a lot of the crew at a Jo Bell, 52 workshop and reading day in Birmingham in January. I was collected from the station by Maurice, then I symbolically posted some work receipts. After we had negotiated the ‘roundabout complex of Swind’ Maurice showed me to my Holiday Inn room.
After rainbow-painting my nails I went over to the Richard Jeffries Museum. I arrived to a loving welcome and hugs from all directions. Friends from Exeter and Bristol, Oxford and Liverpool, Birmingham and Stone. And Swindon. Oh, and there was mulled wine. Hilda went to check if it was ready and there was one in my hand within five minutes. I walked into the Tent Palace of Delicious Air and found more friends there. I perched on a leather bean-bag with my mascot, Kendal. Stephen and Mark were jealous of my nails. After four hours travelling I was there and slightly dazed. I marvelled at the wall hangings, lectern and lighting.
I had to source a big stick shaped like a moose before Quiet Compere started and parked this outside The Sun Inn warning a local not run off with it, unless he wanted to write a poem about a moose and use it to perform that! This is the poem it was for and it is dedicated to Hilda and all the work, love and fun she pours into Poetry Swindon:
The hysteria that comes
I find it often melts Frank and I
and we are lost for minutes.
Then, back even better for it.
I get the same with my brothers,
even though I see them
half a dozen times a year.
The easy hilarity of closeness.
Not so often alone,
though on Sunday
I found a small dead tree
lifted it into life
for five minutes.
Held it to my forehead
and ran around the field
pretending to be a moose.
I did a ten minutes set myself. Not that Quiet Compere then, but a few friends said “We want to hear more of you!” and I didn’t take much encouragement to step up there and give them ten minutes. I enjoyed reading some of the poem-a-thon poems I had rediscovered on the train and quite a lot of new stuff, never read.
Julia Webb gave us a bee-dress you could wear in humming praise of summer. Julia’s collection is called ‘Bird Sisters’ and she invented sisters and told us about the one who stayed up all night at the crematorium plaiting flowers into your mother’s hair. and water as ‘an inside out, a nothingness.’ and ‘The moon thinks of itself as an emergency’.
Catch Julia here: http://juliawebb.org/blog/
Anna-May Laugher: read us a Wile Coyote poem a cartoon mother should never look down. and fitting with National Poetry day theme of the day earlier: the word message has its own chaos. In ‘The Crosby Men’ the line even my tears decay you hits me hard.
More about Anna-May: http://www.petersfieldwriteangle.co.uk/guests_annamay.html
I enjoyed the imaginary sister poem and the phrases mizzle morning, craggy ground and a clattering charm of jackdaws. Loved her dress too.
Susan has/is running workshops using the contemporary ceramics exhibition as inspiration . The link is here: http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/event/from-where-im-standing/
Susan’s web-page: http://www.susanutting.com/
In ‘Surburbian Alien VHS.’ Sam was playing science like conkers, smashing apart and noticing beautiful irrelevancies like 16mm film. Another poem about Leaving Swindon called ‘In my absence’ he gives us the advice to let anything grow that does not stunt another. And from ‘After the swings’: not forgetting how high/we swung. Where you landed.
Sam interviews Robert Peake here: http://www.robertpeake.com/archives/poet/sam-loveless
I love the fact there could be something so important I will want to press the creases out of all my clothes for the week. I don’t own an iron and relate to this. I was only talking about Gladiators and trying you name them last week and Angie talks of watching Jet from Gladiator with quiche and jam tarts.
Find Angie here: https://angiebelcher.wordpress.com/
Quiet Compere: Hilda Sheehan took over as host for the second half
Hilda read us a couple of poems and in the middle of Hilda’s tube poem about her first vibrator the lights went out. I think she had intended the black-out as it resulted in some memorable photos. We may have overloaded the electrics with heaters and lighting and mic, but I like to think it was the shock of Hilda’s poem that did it.
Here’s Hilda: http://hildasheehanpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/
The attention to detail in ‘Home and Away’ stuns me, especially the line and when I moved afar he expanded his research accordingly, learned my temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and humidity. And from ‘And Now for a Kind of Song’:
a tune one murmurs in distraction, without thought
a song in the body, the body in Illinois
These are from Carrie’s manuscript in progress, ‘The Weather in Normal.’
Carrie is here: http://www.carrieetter.com/
Nick tells us I meet you where waves end, where tears begin. And in ‘Bewildered Nick’ that I have heard before but is always a listening pleasure where death and bewildered Nick are subject to a horse-racing commentary style poem and death always wins by exactly one length.
Nick co-host a new night in Swindon here: https://www.facebook.com/OoohBeehive/
Cristina immerses us into a world of gaps and bones with style and charm. Cristina requested I not share her lines.
Read some poems by Cristina here: https://cristinanewton.wordpress.com/
I fell for the idea of telling your mistakes you love them. And his instructions of how to act in nuclear war poem, particularly fold the tea. Wow and a pop-song duration remains. His poem about a friend who died was difficult to listen to, especially the line Volume up. Brightness up. And the moths her children in the wardrobe sit between cotton and wool./I tease. Watch you turn to dust.
Had his set hijacked by exes in the days before there are none more circumspect than former lovers. In his poem ‘The Game Parade’ there is no place more dangerous than the recent past… long joined up stories/like railway carriages…one derail/ could uncouple everything.
Website here: http://mauricespillane.ie/
Mark Farley (Photographer):
OK, so I am usually proud of the photos I manage to get at Quiet Compere events, but someone did it better this time. Mark Farley, I like the internal rhyme in his name too. Go on, repeat it a few times. See what I mean? Also, this meant I have a dozen or so photos of me reading, with my ‘moose’ stick and listening in the audience (was a little concerned about this because I am not always sure what my watching face looks like). He has probably kept the gurning ones for bribery purposes, I know I do.
In the interval Sam led me to the kitchen, where there was a large box of ale, I thought he meant I could have a pint or two. “No, he said, it is all for you A birthday gift from me!” Ah! The loveliness continued again and again all weekend. I may or may not have had a constant half in my hand for most of Saturday and this meant I missed having an evening meal with John and Nina, but it also meant I got to have some of Maurice’s excellent curry and get a lift into town for the evening sessions.
Poetry Swindon link: http://www.poetryswindon.org/
Andrew McMillan’s honesty workshop made me cry twice, but I came out with six new, strong, tough poems that may not have existed unless I had pushed myself to higher levels on honesty than I usually pour into my poetry. Anne-Marie Fyfe and Roy Marshall were both poets I had not heard or met before and Anne-Marie told us ‘the sea is always with me.’ I met an ant and beetle in the tent. Roy’s poems spoke to me as they were medical and post mortem (my 17 year NHS career came back through his words). I was a little distracted by Louise Campbell’s stunning red patent leather boots. Nina and I shared some of our poems from Andrew’s morning workshop on a bench near the boat in Richard Jeffries gardens.
I fully intended to join John and Nina for a meal in Swindon, but time trickled away in engaging conversations with a dozen poets and the ale box slowly and constantly filled my half pint glass. Maurice arrived with his curries for the volunteers and I managed to wangle a portion before we all climbed into cars to go into Swindon for Keith Hutson’s Troupers, a show about the characters in the golden age of the entertainment industry and then Cristina and Daljit presented the Battered Moon awards, it was good to see friend, Ken Evans won a prize in it.
Back at base we all gathered in the Tent Palace and then in Hilda’s Lounge. I was handed a Babysham in a Babysham glass and Sam and Mark kept topping my pints up from the never ending ale box. I turned forty in a lounge that looked like my childhood among a raft of old and new friends and hugs and kisses were everywhere. I decided to spend the night in the Tent Palace and Sam piled up the blankets and asked me if I was sure I wanted to stay out? I did, and woke up on the morning of my birthday in the luscious tent. To be honest, I slept very little, it was cold and uncomfortable and around 5am I decided to go back to my Holiday Inn bed and grab an hour or two of sleep, before returning to the Museum to find Mike Pringle making me a bacon sandwich and Sophie and Tess had baked and decorated a cake for me. I was given a medal for services to Richard Jeffries Museum and a bunch of flowers from the festival. I left notes of love, thanks, the rest of ale and a couple of beer-mats with poems on and Quiet Compere badges as thankyous to all the lovely people at Poetry Swindon. I exchanged lots of goodbye hugs before a lot of friends went into Daljit Nagra Masterclass. I walked by the lake and returned to find the masterclassers had been released for a break and I gathered another bunch of hugs before Maurice drove me back to catch my train.
I left with a Swindon Skin and will be back very soon
I will leave you on a final line from Maurice Spillane: like the sun may catch you, hallowed in the dark room and wonder at the magic of it.
After a walk along Kleeve Walk beside the Severn and through the locks I found Ye Olde Talbot where I stayed last year and had a slow pint in the pub garden gazing at a small square of blue sky from the courtyard. As soon as I left to bask the rain pelted me until I took shelter outside an estate agents with a couple of dozen others.
Martin Driscoll and a committee were all at The Hive when I arrived after an afternoon of pootling around Worcester and welcomed me with wine and organisation, a happy combination and below are reviews of the guest poets and some lines I liked from support poets and open miccers. I have included links to their sites where I know them.
In Jess’s Good Will Hunting poem I enjoyed Jess raising her hand to own up to borrowed lines, much less intrusive than mentioning it all the way through or not at all. From Learning how to cry: ‘Identify the elephant in the room./Name it ‘wolf’.
I do a little dance at this line now!
Jess made me cry twice. Her quiet style makes the poetry shout so much more. The words work hard and don’t need shouting.
Ah! ‘as jumbled as a Brummie’s accent.’ and the image of the poetry teacher hiding behind the picture books. ‘a whole row of Elmers’ adventures. The elephant in the room ‘explodes in multicolour.’ Love the ‘twist of fate and paper.’
‘Take the same landscape in as if it were breath.’ ‘A stone-rush of butter and red-bricked memory.’ Loved The Pelican,a pub ‘divided by accent and arrival time.’ and ‘cider shouting through me in apple sorrow.’ Wow! Makes me want to try some cider for the first time in 15 years! http://adamhorovitz.co.uk/blog/
For Holly tongued fingertips ‘sausage stumble the keyboard.’ and ‘time sloths’. ‘Wet-lipped uncles at someone else wedding’ Yuk!
‘an arc of arms throwing punches of light’ was so surprising and visual.
‘with love I am begging for you to hurt me.’
‘it’s similar to a kiss, like the ones we share’.
‘the scent of sweet apples gift-wrapped in old newspaper’.
water described as ‘all claws, teeth and current.’
‘Our emotions carried on F sharps and B flats.’
‘The weight of hours in his loft’ grabbed me particularly.
“I’m the girl who stepped into the black, And found a welcome there”.
I enjoyed Adelstrop and Exclamation Marks and the Leaving assembly one.
‘I would steer by the stars, but the constellations have moved.’
This was Anne’s first ever performance at a poetry event and there is no link for her at present.
‘a seduction, a secrecy and suggestions of stealth.’
Lacuna launch is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1280938665267803/
Polly put me up and made me a fry up. It was lovely to meet Polly’s daughter and Mabel the dog too. They took me on a walk back from their house across Diglis Bridge and I was inspired by the love-locks and now have two poems of Love for Worcester (though I have only visited twice). Thank you Worcester. I will be back. xxx
More about Worcestershire Literature Festival here: https://worcslitfest.co.uk/
Firstly, The Nutclough Studio was a perfect space for a Yorkshire-sized audience, the venue was truly a 12th performer on this night, adding it’s personality to the event and we had a visit from the lovely Fern Bast to check we settled in and again at the end of the evening to see if there were any issues with the venue. Settees, blankets, tall stools, a rainbow light with a tree in it and high windows all added to the evening. And all this before we add a line-up that had been making me a little giddy for a while! I hope to capture a flavour of the evening below in case you couldn’t make it.
Greg White: ‘We tend to spend our lives in the back rooms of ourselves.’ Then from Books ‘And I, in turn, entrusted you/with my whole self in manuscript.’ and I like that by my reading of The Source, my new poem, I gave him permission to read Leaving, his follicular calligraphy poem. No link available.
Stu Freestone: made us hungry: ‘You remember those crumbly sausage rolls that would just fall apart in your hands, almost like a paper waterfall folding its way through the cracks in your grasp’ and then ‘We are the graphite drawn from those pencil tips sketching picture perfect postcards.’ Hee hee! ‘seasoning pleases me… …I want to bathe in an ocean of Bisto!’ Course he does, I do too! Stu hosts Say Owt Slam! in Leeds. The next event will be on Friday 27th May at The Basment, York. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stu-Freestone-Spoken-Word-Poet/293008464226457
Rose Condo: Rose’s Sexual Assault Helpline poem was inspired and hard to listen to, it was an automated machine making all kinds of judgements about the caller, with no facility for response, talking them out of the claim before they had even made it. Particularly through the lines questioning the caller’s ‘level of voice or intensity of eye contact.’ ‘Is he just known as an affectionate guy?’ Her Richard III speech was excellent and would have loved to make Shakespeare slam to see everyone’s take on the Bard. http://www.rosecondo.net/ Rose hosts Queenie’s Coffee House Nights in Huddersfield. The next is tonight with Tony Walsh and Alix Alixandra at 7pm.
Winston Plowes: Winston’s war series (first published by Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax in The Writing Room 2016) was moving as it took us through saying Goodbye to someone going to war ‘I’ve buried you like an/acorn in the foxhole/before the winter/burns me.’, how it was like for the person left behind ‘Gagging on every thorny paper kiss… my life is decorated with the long wait for you.’ and the third poem was on the return from war ‘Eyes that blink to orders/since the sand unmade you……you brought a war back with you/In your blood and thunder.’ I had noticed Winston’s Memory Box earlier and thought it was part of The Nutclough décor. He took lines from it in any order they came out and gave us snippets of memories ‘silverfish racing passed the gas-fire.’, ‘mustard mixed with a tiny wooden spoon.’ and ‘flying toys that collect dreams.’ http://www.winstonplowes.co.uk/
Clare Shaw: When thinking about the recent Hebden floods I had thought about the things, shops and homes lost, but not the people and that death was part of it. The resilience around Hebden and the messages of Thanks on windows made me cry and smile, Clare did too. The directness: ‘I am that one car, floating. I am the phone’s blank screen. I am the neighbour with the cigarette. I am too wet to smoke. I am the mother knee-deep. Clare also brought out one I remember from when I first heard her read from ‘Straight Ahead’ Bloodaxe, ten years ago, in which the protagonist dared ‘to dance the wrong kind of dance with the wrong kind of man. To dance the wrong kind of dance with a girl.’ http://www.clareshaw.co.uk/
I got heckled for heckling! Apparently, I might have been a Quiet Compere, but I was a not so quiet audience member when Winston was hosting. The audience were so warm and open I decided to perform a new poem. Not my usual style or subject matter. I am going to take this to Manchester monthly slam (Word War at 3MT) on June 7th. Terror and good butterflies mix in a giddy cocktail of anticipation.
Brendan McPartlan: I loved The Madman in the Corner, Brendan introduces us to the Madmen in the corner and gets us into the centre of the room and tells us “Well this room has got four corners and/I’ve shown you everyone,/so you’re probably thinking that the madman’s gone/ Well sorry, you’d be wrong/because tonight I have moved to the middle of the room because I wanted to talk to you.’ Love the family love in the Lenny poem ‘The boy catches me watching/he smiles a smile full of peas/ and says “More more more!’ This made me cry. No link.
Hannah Stone: Hannah’s set had so many stand-out lines for me, why say pregnant when you can say ‘her belly heaves with legitimate pride and unfamiliar hormones.’
From ‘Reunion of the broken parts’, ‘Who can find one deity to hold it all together while his flayed back knits itself together.’
Hannah’s collection, Lodestone, is now available through Stairwell books here: http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk/html/collections.html#Lodestone
Matthew Hedley Stoppard:
Accents are hard to describe, but not to Matthew, ‘Round East Midlands vowels, as if my head’s been shoved in the hollow of an oak.’
‘Bruises beneath feathers, while holding a rook in a headlock’ made me smile.
Becky Cherriman: From Austerity: ‘You woke one morning, aching with it.’ Becky read a number of poems from her pamphlet from Mother’s Milk, Echolocation http://beckycherriman.com/?p=1142/
One of these was All princes were monsters once which held the line about her son: ‘It is as though this is the first accurate mirror/I have come across.” Wow!
David Jarman: Dave’s Stuff poem got me this time. ‘It’s form fell apart, it’s structure fell away’. ‘cut into the bark, stark, square, sketchy letters.’ ‘For we are never nothing!’ These lines in particular grabbed me by my slightly drunken ears and made me listen. I also love his people on the route to work poem Against the Tide: ‘middle-aged looking five year old with her Mum.’ ‘nothing can wake me like mist on the tracks in the morning.’ http://www.jarmanpoetry.com/
The next day I spent an hour with mallards, pigeons and ravens by the River Wharfe thinking about the floods and nothing and everything, watching the ravens have water baths. Then I had chocolate cake and wine and caught my train home. Thank you Hebden.
Blog here: http://tenyearstime.blogspot.co.uk/
Editor at: http://threedropspoetry.co.uk/
First collection ‘The Density of Salt’ http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/kate-garrett/4591581784
Melanie’s collection with Sara Miller: http://www.flapjackpress.co.uk/page20.htm/