The Jean Brodie Room, The Grand Witches’ Ball and poets ready for rain or The Quiet Compere Exeter blog

I arrived in Exeter late afternoon and checked into my accommodation. I was delighted to find I had been allocated The Brodie themed single room, with private Brodie bathroom and quotes and film posters on the wall and a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in the bedside cabinet along with the bible. I read half of this book before checking out and had to buy a new copy on the way home to continue on the train! On arrival at The Phoenix all was fabric and pendulous sparkle as The Grand Witches prepared for a ball! I dragged myself away to host poetry in the room upstairs. Tom Sastry: started with a poem about filling the empty space of a new house “we can eat pizza from the box and test out the air-bed” because he is starting up anew poetry night and is thinking about how to fill the space with poets and audience, love and atmosphere. I loved the pace and dark humour of Complicity and best of all I could read it again on the train back on Sunday in the Best of 52. Read Complicity and other 52 poems here: Susan Jordan: described death as a ‘final thread reeling out of the goodbye they’ve been saying’ and ‘lurking in dark, he was badger, dust-scuffed and branch-strewn, sunrise turned him into a dazzled vole.’ Clare Hepworth-Wain: performed Bonnard is banished and I love the music in the lines “Creamy tiles/soured to beige./Pine panelling/shrunk to grain.” To read the whole of Bonnard is banished buy The Broadsheet here in October : Hannah Linden: told us about a woman who “could take summat ugly/an ide it in Lancastrian” and then read poem The Stars Are Cherry Stones that Have Lost Their Colour. about her son and how “The idea/of no one counting up to the beginning of time frightens him”. Hannah Linden is hosting a night of 52 poetry at Swindon Poetry Festival Alasdair Paterson: In Pier Head, Liverpool is “a good place to get your heart broken and find a song to patch it.” In Nomenclature every line was quotable and the phrases “barely-dented laughter” and ” a willed dishevelment” were so fresh. Matt Harvey: The speed, the timing and the humour in Prune Stone Oracle pulled us all in. After hearing Where earwigs dare where Matt ‘first went freelance, then gently feral.’ I want my own shed to go feral in. His time lapse love story with flowers was genius and reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Magnus Mills. The specific types of flowers were so carefully chosen. I love it when you can tell poets have gone out and done some research. Rebecca Gethin: Owlography is soon to come out in Three Drops from a Cauldron. Rebecca explained that maps look as if they are in the daylight…being white but an owl’s map would be of the night and therefore grey or black! ‘valleys of their anatomy, tours of their feathers’ ‘calls rip apart the vertebrae of stars pencilled on to the night of this map. Gram Joel Davies: Gram opened with Oops, Sorry, a sex poem ‘this is exciting, like biting on lightning.’ His set continued with passion hinted at and blatant. In his rain poem, These threads are the singing: “the curse of being melts from you in torrents.’ and in Turn the Wheel and Look to Windward (T.S.Eliot): “Both mariner and miller/could reckon/this way of lacing work/with cords of air, its flavour/of minerals and grass.” Simon Williams: Simon started with a Niels Bohr quote “Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.” And the one about Neann (the Neanderthal) at school was genius. ‘Though we don’t encourage it, she’s very good at wrestling.’ Mark Totterdell: Mark’s poem Spinosaurus was luscious “all monochromes, skewed limbs, the whiff of glue” ‘what is long dead continues to evolve.’ Loved the descriptions Animal antics grey squirrels – ‘all scuttle and fluff’, wild boar ‘all snuffle and bristle’, beavers ‘all chisels and paddles’ and my favourite – lobster ‘tie-dyed t-shirt of chitin’. Many of the poets hung around in the bar to banter and admire the fabric and flair of the witches and drink ale. The following day there was a 52 gathering at a local pub. The blog about this will follow soon. I am off to read the last chapter of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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