Poetry ID are contributing to the 2015 Letchworth Festival with a reading at David’s Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3DE starting at 7.30 on Thursday 18 June.
There will be a dozen different readers with poems ranging from the most serious to the most light-hearted in tone and subject matter. The evening is guaranteed to stimulate your imagination and enrich the fabric of your existence with an exchange of ideas, emotions and all the qualities that make life worthwhile.
The evening will also see the launch of our latest anthology (the third) of members’ poems. Coming into Leaf contains over 60 pages of poems by 22 poets, and copies will be on sale for just £5.00. More details if you click on this link Coming into Leaf
Tickets for the reading cost £3.00 and are you can buy yours from David’s Bookshop (01462 684631), from Letchworth Tourist In formation Centre, Station Road Letchworth SG6 3BB (01462 487868) or from Kim Simmonds-Hurn at Wild Roses, 61 Norton Way North, Letchworth SG6 1BH (01462 674956).
Do come, and bring a friend. You’ll be very welcome!
On the Ile de Ré this September there were several fabulous sunsets and I managed to film one of them from the beach at Les Grenettes from the moment the sun touched the horizon out at sea until its disappearance just over three and a half minutes later. It’s a process that cannot but focus the imagination into a poignant realisation of both the beauty and the brevity of life, and the poem I wrote subsequently is the outcome of this realisation.
My video now brings the film and the poem together, and I hope that for all its rough edges it expresses something greater than the sum of its parts.
You can find it on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7kRamBeejI
Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation are arranging an exciting autumn festival for the schools’ half term on the themes of Fire and Fright, and Poetry ID are delighted to be taking part.
Four poets from the group – Rose Saliba, Barbara Wheeler, Clare Crossman and John Gohorry – will be offering free drop-in readings and workshops at the Festival’s special installation in Broadway Gardens.
We will be on hand at the installation on Monday 27, Wednesday 29 & Friday 31 October, 10:00 to 12 noon and 16.30 to 19:00. The morning sessions will be aimed at families with children from 4 upwards, the afternoon/evening sessions at families with children from 7 upwards.
With Diwali and Bonfire Night in mind, we will be exploring the character of fire, and thinking of Halloween we will also be looking at ghosts, ghouls and gremlins, along with whatever else makes our hair stand on end.
Come and enjoy as many of the workshop sessions as you like. LGCHF will be putting together an anthology of writing produced in our workshops and in other creative venues during the festival, so you might find your work in print afterwards.
Poetry ID are celebrating National Poetry Day, Thursday 2 October with a reading at David’s Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3DE starting at 7.30 pm. Admission is £3.00.
The evening is compered by David Van-Cauter. There will be an open mic element, and all are welcome.
Copies of our 2014 anthology, From Different Skies, will be on sale.
So come along and enjoy a great evening out. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Bang Said the Gun: an open mic adventure
Five minutes’ walk down Great Dover Street in Southwark – the route Chaucer’s pilgrims would have taken on their way to Canterbury nearly 7 centuries ago – is a pub called the Roebuck. Upstairs on a Thursday night they have a poetry evening which they call Bang Said the Gun. The choice of title for this weekly event gives a clue that this might not be the kind of poetry reading experience I am familiar with. Nor is it: when they say Bang, they really mean it. It’s “stand-up poetry for those who don’t like poetry, especially the stuff about thwarted love and daffodils”. Or how about this: “It’s poetry not ponce, it’s not pornography but it’s still pretty good”. Beginning to feel about as dated as one of those Canterbury pilgrims, I decide to give it a go.
I walk up the stairs at just gone 8 pm to sign up for the open mic slot. The only space left is the first, so I’m doomed. Why don’t I just go in as audience, and see if it’s for me before making a complete fool of myself? But then I curse myself for a chicken, and sign. I sit through the first acts on the bill in a state of mounting panic, fight-or-flight states alternating, sweaty palms, rapid breathing. This is definitely not like any poetry events I’ve been to before. The place is packed, for a start. Everybody in the room seems to be under 25, though one of two of the performers are definitely over 50. Several of the acts have their poems by heart, and most have a breathtaking lack of self-effacement or false modesty. Some of the material is filthy, some political, radical. The stuff that appeals to me is surreal and bizarre rather than loud and in-your-face.
The scariest element in this first half is that on every table is a paper-covered plastic bottle containing pebbles. Someone chosen as cheer-leader for the evening conducts audience response to the acts. We’re encouraged to cheer, shout, rattle, and make the loudest noise possible. At first I cringe, then decide to join in. Pretty soon I notice the audience, during each act and regardless of content, are listening attentively, laughing and responding. With no heckling or booing, the atmosphere is supportive and encouraging, loud but not raucous for its own sake. The whole thing is rather good-humoured and lively, and I like the fact that the performers don’t go in for apologising for their material in advance, something that irritates me at some poetry readings.
It’s not all great. Naturally enough the quality is very uneven. There are plenty of cliched stand-up routines, about such things as embarrassment and complaints about features of everyday life. And some of the older performers seem to have self-denigration about their age as part of their presentation, as if getting in first before the audience can. This I find a bit depressing.
After the break, it’s my turn. I get up and read my poem. I wish I’d learnt it: I wish I’d put some make-up on. The lights are fierce and I’m very nervous. But the room feels supportive, even kindly, and I don’t feel as if I’ve let myself down. The other one-off poets vary hugely in style and content, but all are treated magnanimously. This isn’t gladiatorial combat, I’m thankful to realise. There’s the equivalent of a public vote for the best open mic performer, won hands-down by a petite, pretty girl whose poems are very short, witty and shrewd. She wins the Golden Spud Gun Award, which she gets to keep for a week, and on the following Thursday she will be featured in her own, longer slot, which she thoroughly deserves.
At the end of the evening I stagger out with a strange mixture of reactions; part of me horrified and embarrassed, though not as much as if I’d gone with friends, part of me enlivened and excited by the experience. It’s intriguing being so much older than most people there, and I start to consider what it might be like to do this regularly. Would I have to tailor my material to suit the environment? Would I need to write poems bewailing my advanced age, decline in sexual conquests, moaning about the raft of inconveniences for seniors? Or maybe gloat about privileges like my Freedom Pass on public transport, or exult in my permanent holiday from gainful employment? I can’t see it, somehow. Still, Brian Patten is performing there next week, so I might just go along and see how he gets on. Bang Said the Gun is at http://www.bangsaidthegun.com/ if you feel like giving it a try. I might see you there.