Dobby! Whatever are you doing in the Poetry Basket?! Bring it over here straight away!
Grr! Asleep on duty!!
We’re looking at the Poetry Basket today because there’s a rather special poetry review in it! By, if I say so myself, a rather special poet. Yes! I’m in the Basket myself! Sharron Green has give my pamphlet ‘Bunty I Miss You’ a cracking review! Thank you for that, Sharron.
So flip over to Poetry Basket Reviews and prepared to be blown away!
Here I am, about to return to Memory Corner. This time we go back to 1st December 2019 for Poetry at the Adelaide. A great evening of events.
That night, not only did we have the wonderful French Lessons playing, (see Anne Warrington on your right, the amazing founder of Poetry Performance) but we also had two incredible Lucy’s as guests:
The very talented Lucy Lyrical bowled us over with clever and witty songs.
I swooned over Ms Lyrical when I saw her at Soho Poets in 2018! Once I told Anne about Lucy, we nabbed her as soon as we could! Lucy is also a prolific writer, and her novel Three Women is a fantastic read!
One of the joys about this wonderful world of poetry is that you constantly get to know new and gifted people, and Lucy Gaster was one of them!
Lucy accompanied Lucy (Lyrical) on the cello and the rapport of the two artistes was quite tangible. Making it a vibrant and memorable night.
This was alongside a night of beautiful poetry, natch!
That evening seems so long ago, due to this bizarre switching off of life. Let’s hope the lights will go back on again soon, and we see the return of the Lucy’s!
Whoops! How did this gatecrasher get in here?! Honestly, some poets are just ruthless!
NOW, SETTLE DOWN, TREASURES. TONIGHT, WE HAVE THE EXTRAORDINARY AND GIFTED POET, MATTHEW PAUL !!
SO LET’S MAKE OUR TALENTED GUEST WELCOME!!
(STANDING OVATION AS MATTHEW DESCENDS THE LIGHTED STAIRS)
Matthew! Welcome to the show. So good to have you with us!
I see you got up Carnaby Street after all! Cool crushed velvet bell bottoms!
Thank you, Heather. Yes, they’ll hopefully go with my fringed waistcoat.
Is this guy cool or what?!
(Whistling and woo-hooing from the audience).
(she sweeps everything off her desk with her right arm) (Audience gasp).
Let’s get down to it! When did poetry become a part of your life?
A long time ago, Heather, when I was 15 or 16. I had an inspiring English teacher, who encouraged wide reading. Plus Adrian, the younger of my elder brothers was studying American poetry and he got me into William Carlos Williams and the Beats. I’ve loved poetry ever since, and I can’t imagine it not being an intrinsic part of my day-to-day existence.
Around 2010, I vowed to myself that I’d go a whole year in which I would try to read hardly anything but poetry, and books about it. That immersion was so immensely enjoyable and helpful for my own writing that I carried on with it. I’m sure that practice has improved my poetry by osmosis alone, as well as by more conscious looking at ‘technical’ aspects of what works well – and sometimes what doesn’t.
What an amazing journey, Matthew. We can see that it’s paid off too.
Which contemporary poets do you most admire?
Blimey! That’s a tough one, as there are so many, all of whom plough their own distinctive furrows. I like their poetry in varying ways and to different degrees, depending on the mood I’m in, but I happily revisit their poems. The following spring to mind, but there are many others besides: Mike Barlow, Liz Berry, Alan Buckley, Julia Copus, C.L. Dallat, Nichola Deane, Martina Evans, Paul Farley, Vicki Feaver, Anne-Marie Fyfe, Roger Garfitt, Geoff Hattersley, Tracy Herd, Ramona Herdman, A.B. Jackson, Matthew Hollis, Anthony Howell, Keith Hutson, Christopher James, Zaffar Kunial, Nick Laird, Frances Leviston, Ada Limon, Richie McCaffery, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Marion McCready, John McCullough, Derek Mahon, Glyn Maxwell, Sinead Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Alice Oswald, Pascale Petit, Kathy Pimlott, Clare Pollard, Jacob Polley, Roger Robinson, Ann Sansom, Peter Sansom, Emma Simon, Gary Snyder, Jean Sprackland, Matthew Stewart, Rory Waterman, Susan Wicks, Tom Weir, Hugo Williams, Tammy Yoseloff and Belinda Zhawi. I must make my reading more diverse.
There’s also my fellow Red Door Poets, the regulars at Anne-Marie Fyfe’s Coffee-House Poetry nights at the Troubadour and the brilliant poets, like Carole Bromley and John Foggin, at the Poetry Business Saturday workshops; and several excellent local poets, including you – blush – (I wish I was even half the poetry performer that you are, Heather), whom I have the good fortune to see/hear read regularly.
How about that?! From the coolest poet!! (wild spontaneous applause) I’ll be dining out on that one, Matthew, up the Marquee tonight! Thank you so much.
Your slick collection, The Evening Entertainment had a very strong voice. It was deservedly well-received. How long did it take to compile?
Well, it was out for a year before it got its first review (not that I’m bitter!) – but when it came, it was a very kind and thoughtful one from Greg Freeman, who, as another south-west Londoner, completely understood the milieu in which I grew up, so for me, it was worth the wait.
The answer to your quesion is a lifetime, in that the collection encompassed many aspects of my experience and interests. But I began writing poetry seriously at university where I had access to amazing poetry books in the library, and to have the encouragement of the writer-in-residence, Martin Lynch.
Aged 20, the first poem I ever sent off was published by Dennis O’Driscoll in Poetry IrelandReview and I thought I had it made.
Unsurprisingly there were a lot of stops and restarts before The Evening Entertainment was eventually published 30 years later. I’d finally got my act together after attending fantastic courses led by Pascale Petit and then by Clare Pollard 10-12 years ago. I was then selected by Ann and Peter Sansom to participate on their Poetry Business Writing School programme and that enabled me to write about a third of the collection in the year before publication and revise the rest substantially.
I can’t thank Ann and Peter enough for their wisdom and knowledge, always conveyed with great charm and humour.
What an amazing learning curve, Matthew! And you really hit pay dirt!
Now, my favourite is The Winter of Discontent, with its authenticity of a winter’s morning. What is yours?
Thanks, Heather. It was meant as a period piece of sorts, about that winter of 1978-1979, a pivotal point in British History from which we’ve never recovered, but I’m glad you detect a more timeless wintery feeling to it.
It’s hard to have a favourite of your own poems, isn’t it? It would probably be one of the poems I wrote about my father, perhaps ‘Sunday at The Oval With Dad’, where the form – it’s a sonnet – enabled me to say exactly what I wanted; or maybe ‘The Surfers of Rock-a-Nore’, because it was the sort of hefty, Existentialist poem which my younger self would have wanted me to write.
Yes, of course! “Crisis? What crisis?” That unforgettable period! That was such an endless winter! I was so reminded of my own Dad shaving and listening to Wogan! Yes, those are also personal, strong pieces.
So, Matthew, tell us about co-editing Presence magazine.
Presence is, I think, the UK’s best journal for haiku, tanka and associated forms, such as haibun and renku. Martin Lucas who co-founded and edited it from its inception roped me in as reviews editor about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, attracting other reviewers was difficult so I ended up writing many of the reviews myself, for better or worse.
When Martin died, in very tragic circumstances, in 2014, we were in the throes of producing issue #50, which was good going for a mag which had had no funding, apart from subscriptions. My fellow poets Stuart Quine and Ian Storr and I pledged at Martin’s funeral that we would continue the journal as a triumvirate, and do so in the collegiate, inclusive and outward-looking spirit which Martin had engendered. I’m very glad that we did. As well as carrying on as essays and reviews editor, I dealt with the postal submissions, which I enjoyed because I usually tried to offer what I intended to be constructive and helpful feedback. Poetry can be such a lonely business.
Stuart dropped out an issue or three afterwards, and very sadly died from Covid in March this year. I stopped my editorial involvement a few years ago now, but Ian, with other’s assistance, is still doing a sterling job with it and continues to nuture a worldwide community of haikai poets.
I still write haiku occasionally, but I feel like I’m on a bit of a sabbatical, whilst I get my longer poems into their best possible shape for publication for my second collection – which may be a good few years yet at the speed at which I progress.
Lumme, Matthew! That is so bitter-sweet. I’m so sorry you lost your friends like that.
Well, we hope we don’t have to wait too long for your next collection (spontaneous applause – “Get penning it!” and other acolades). Now, tell us the best poetry gig you have done, then the worst….
The best reading I’ve given and the most enjoyable poetry occasion are one and the same: in March last year, the celebration event at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, at the end of the first Poetry Business Writing School programme, I undertook. Peter Sansom introduced each one of us, and I took heart from the lovely words with which he introduced me.
For once, I managed to get my timings and emphases spot-on, and the laughs and other audience reactions came in all the right places too. It was a very satisfying and rare feeling!
I can’t remember having had such an especially awful gig, I’m glad to say. Where I’ve read less than my best, it would have been down to having a drink beforehand, which I try to avoid these days for that very reason.
I should end on a positive note and say that, like you, I really enjoy the intimate Coffee-House Poetry evenings, where so many fine poets read; and the exemplary, generous atmosphere of the Write Out Loud Woking open mic sessions – Greg Freeman and Rodney Wood, both terrific poets themselves, do a brilliant job of welcoming and valuing the contributions of all the diverse poets who read there – a few of whom are often newcomers to poetry.
Some might call open mic nights ‘grassroots poetry’, as if they’re the poetic equivalent of non-league football perhaps; but that’s condescending claptrap. I would argue that they are vitally important – poetry is always a solitary activity to start with, but then it becomes a dialogue with whomsoever is kind enough to give their undistracted attention to it. Taking that step from the private to the public can, for various reasons, be understandably very challenging for some people. So it’s very much to Greg and Rodney’s credit that those who do so at the Lightbox (or online now) feel safe enough to do so, in a democratic space where they can feel the warmth in the room.
What a fantastic summing up, Matthew. Yes, the Lightbox have been wonderful. (deafening applause) Well, what can I say? Thank you for such a fantastic interview. Now, are you up for the Marquee? Pickettywitch are getting a round in!
I’m still waiting for my sideburns to grow, Heather, so I’ll listen to them on my Eight Track on the way home. Goodnight
HELLO, POETRY LOVERS, INSPIRED BY TRISHA’S AND SHARRON’S LOVELY PIECES, I AM DETERMINED TO MAKE A TRILOGY OF THIS CLOTHES AND WARDROBE BUSINESS. SO JUST HUMOUR ME. HERE’S A POEM OF MY OWN THAT I KIND OF SEWED(!) TOGETHER
Mum had a wardrobe full of mini-skirted suits
with fur-edged sleeves,
and stockings and panty-girdles.
My sister’s had long hippy dresses, no shoes.
Woodstock uniform, though she never even made it to the Isle of Wight.
Mine had tank tops, and flares
and later, vintage pieces from Portobello and Camden
garments that turned to beige.
Subtle, they said, meaning invisible.
Allcrammed in next to daughter’s cold cut work blouses.
I slam the wardrobe door shut,
and leg it to Primark.
Heather Moulson 2020
Phew! I think that’s out of my system (but don’t get your hopes up).
Next episode features a fantastic interview with the wonderful poet, Matthew Paul. Stay tuned!!
NOW WE SEEM TO HAVE CREATED A POETRY WARDROBE WHICH IS VERY FITTING(!) FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL POEM BY SHARRON GREEN.
SHARRON IS A VERY PROLIFIC POET AND HAS A STUNNING COLLECTION – Rhymes_n_Roses, AVAILABLE FROM SHARRON’S WEBSITE . http://rhymesnroses.com REALLY WORTH A READ.
A Tight Predicament
My underwear, has gone somewhere
I don’t know where it’s gone,
the drawers are bare,
there’s nothing spare,
what’s left feels put upon.
The wardrobe’s staged a sit in,
all comfy clothes on strike,
my going out are wearing thin,
I can’t dress how I’d like.
I feel adrift ‘tween sizes,
already going large,
I’ll know the hell, of XXL,
if I don’t soon take charge,
I’m blaming it on lockdown,
a lack of exercise,
no outings to dress up for,
too many shepherd’s pies.
In truth I should be keener,
the latest masks to model,
with luck I won’t be recognised
as round the shops I waddle.
Sharron Green 2020
WASN’T THAT WONDERFUL?! SO WE’VE HAD IRONING, AND CLOTHES. IF YOU HAVE ANY GARMENT RELATED PIECES YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE, DO SEND IT IN VIA COMMENTS (MY CONTACT PAGE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE FUNCTIONING, SO I’M EXPECTING THE REPAIR MAN ROUND ANY MINUTE. BEST GET THE KETTLE ON!)
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE AMAZING POETRY DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL!!!
HELLO, POETRY LOVERS. TODAY WE’RE GOING TO GO THROUGH THE POETRY DOOR AND WE’D LOVE YOU TO JOIN US.
I HAVE FOUND A STUNNING POEM BY THE LOVELY AND TALENTED TRISHA BROOMFIELD. I’VE BEEN A GREAT ADMIRER OF HER WORK FOR SOME TIME, AND THIS ONE PARTICULARLY BLEW ME AWAY.
AND YES, TRISHA REALLY DOES LOOK AS GLAMOROUS AS THIS!
I LOVE POEMS OF EVERYDAY THINGS, ABOUT OBJECTS AND TASKS THAT’S SIMPLY PART OF OUR LIVES. CLEVER TRISHA HAS REALLY HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD WITH THE CHORE OF IRONING, AND HOW TENDER WE CAN FEEL ABOUT THESE RITUALS.
I HOPE YOU LIKE IT AS MUCH AS I DID
Still warming to you
The iron presses down on sheets
the size of sails.
Rain pelts the windows
my mind wanders
cocooned in our mortgaged kitchen.
I picture your face,
or try to,
catch the threads of your voice,
smell the fresh air;
think that I remember
And when I do
that after all this time
warming to you.
Trisha Broomfield 2020
TRISHA’S LATEST COLLECTION WHEN PETER SELLARS CAME TO TEA PUBLISHED BY DEMPSEY & WINDLE IS AVAILABLE NOW.
Thank you everyone, it’s that time again. Today we have an interview with the talented and awesome Thomas McColl.
Welcome Tom (pandemonium from the studio audience) Take a seat, Tom. LOVE those platform shoes but you came a bit of a cropper down those stairs!
– Yes, I may not get to the discotheque after all!
(The Host brutally sweeps everything off her desk with her arm. The guest poet turns pale)
Yes, Tom, be afraid, be very afraid. It’s down to brass tacks now..(audience gasp)
So, tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a poet and short story writer who’s so far released two poetry collections – ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’ (2016), and ‘Grenade Genie’ (published in April this year) – and I live in Stratford, East London, with my partner, Firoza and cat, Silky.
I’m 49 and although born in Hammersmith, we moved to Birmingham when I was 2. By the age of 20, I became a student and returned to my birthplace to attend The University of North London where I studied History. After graduating with a 2:I, I was a City banker, then bookseller then ended up working at the House of Commons. I started off at the Parliamentary Bookshop, then moving to the Vote Office in the Palace itself.
When did you discover your affinity with poetry?
It was while I was living in Birmingham, my first publication was at the age of 17, in 1988, in the West Midlands Arts magazine, People to People with a poem entitled ‘Upon Leaving the Clean Bathroom Life’, and for that piece, I was paid the princely sum of £10.
Although things went downhill from there, my course was set. I’d always enjoyed writing, and from a very young age, loved the idea of writing a best-selling novel. I discovered my affinity with poetry when I realised I didn’t have the energy/staying power/confidence to actually write one. At least with poetry, I could learn how to write, edit and start getting published and build up a track record. Thirty years later, I’m still attempting to do that!
So am I, my sweet! I know that journey well!
Which contemporary poets do you admire?
There are various poets on the scene who I admire (including your good self, Heather) blush! and none of us (unbelievably) are famous. Sometimes I’ll look at contemporary poets who are, and I’ll wonder why, as when I read their poems, I always think they’re not that good. But what can we do? While the world as ever, ignores true genius in favour of charlatans, poets of our calibre will never be appreciated in the way that we deserve to be (standing ovation from the audience).
Well said, Tom.
Your second collection Grenade Genie has been well-received, deserverdly so, tell us how you conceived its powerful 4 chapters – Cursed, Coerced, Combative and Corrupted.
Thank you, Heather, and yes, it has to be said, it has been well-received – including on your very own Poetry Basket Revewis page (which I was thrilled about and is very much appreciated) – and as you say, the book’s divided into 4 sections/chapters, per the book’s very alliterative subtitle: ’25 Brief Studies of the Cursed, Coerced, Combative and Corrupted’.
And the reason I’ve been able to divide ‘Grenade Genie’ up like that is that there’s a very definite theme running through the whole of the book – this idea that, ultimately, everyone and everything is expendable, but while this knowledge can generate either a sense of hopelessness or the nothing-to-lose strength to rail against it, one strength of poetry is that even if only the former gets expressed, the latter is automatically achieved, and that’s the thing: sometimes you just go for it and do something, make a stand, even if the situation really is hopeless – and the book’s grim-sounding sub-title is very definitely borne out of that.
In the last few years, I’d been starting to write poems which were much more political and trying to make sense of the world we’re in, and I soon discovered that a fair number of these poems could form a collection, one that I envisaged being assembled into sections under one broad theme, though it was only pretty much just before I submitted to Fly on the Wall Press that I actually came up with what turned out to be a very alliterative subtitle, and if nothing else, it’s definitely dramatic!
Well, it worked Tom, it built it up into a very powerful collection. My actual favourite is The Greatest Poem. What’s yours?
I think that probably is the best poem in the book – it’s certainly the most ambitious – and it’s been the best received, both by readers and reviewers. I even ended up getting on to the BBC Radio Kent (on the Leo Ulph show) as a result of sending an audio recording of that poem in. The poem refers to the Nayland Rock Shelter in Margate where, in 1921, T. S. Eliot wrote much of The Wasteland, the greatest poem of the 20th Century. In the poem, I state my intention to visit the shelter in 2021, on the 100th anniversary of that great event, in the hope that I’ll end up writing the greatest poem of the 21st Century. Then I started worrying that the inverse may hapen and I’ll end up writing the worst poem of the 21st Century!
My personal favourite of the collection though, is ‘The Phoney War’ which is ostensibly a simple poem about two young brothers in the 1970s, in their living room, playing at being WWII Tommies fighting the Jerries. It took a long time, and many drafts, for me to get the ending right, but I seem to have managed it, as various reviews of the book have described the poem’s ending as ‘devastating’ and ‘heart-wrenching’, which was very much the effect I wanted to achieve. Especially as it’s based on a true event, so the ending isn’t just a device, it’s something real, something that was really felt by the person concerned.
Gosh, Tom, that ending was so moving. Those memories of the war were still very painful for some in the Seventies.
Now, you’re an experienced performer of poetry, what is the best live gig you have done so far?
My feature slot at Write Out Loud Woking last September was probably the best. I felt relaxed and confident, and everything flowed perfectly -the way I read the poems, what I said between the poems, and the reaction of the lovely friendly audience (which included you, Heather. Thank you so much for making me feel so welcome!). It feels so long ago now, especially with us having lockdown which has made everything feel from another age! I guess we’ll soon bounce back to normality, and it’ll be like lockdown never happened (he says unconvincingly).
I was honoured to be there, Tom. You were so sharp and witty and astute. A stunning night that was. I’m almost loathe to ask this, but what was your worst poetry gig?
Yes, I was bracing myself for that! My worst one was back in 1996, at a poetry night called The Hard Edge Club, which had run for much of the 80s in Soho and, after a lengthy hiatus, was being revived. Two of the organisers, Tim Wells and Joe Cairo, came along to the open-mic event Poetry Unplugged and, picking out the best performers, asked those people perform at their re-launch. I was there, but wasn’t singled out, but I still went along, and as it turned out, none of the people they’d picked had turned up. So there I was, the only poet – abiet someone who’d invited himself – and though I was painfully shy, with little charisma and my poems a little half-formed, Joe and Tim agreed, on account of me being the only person to turn up to the relaunch, to give me my first paid gig the following week for what would now be the relaunch of the relaunch.
Well, that first paid gig went okay, and I went along a few more times as an open-micer as audiences picked up, and Tim gave me a second paid spot. However, I decided this time, to try to be like the performance poets who dominated proceedings and memorise all my poems and think of lots of things to say in between them. On the night I just couldn’t do it – I froze on stage, forgot my lines, and started talking gibberish – I just didn’t have the temperament, or the necessary talent, at the time to cut in on what was fast turning out to be a raucous take-no-prisoners event, where some of the people who’d end up becoming well-known performance poets in years to come were starting to make their names (that year, even John Cooper Clarke appeared there, at the start of what was to be a successful comeback). But sometimes biting off more than you can chew – and in the process, making a prat of yourself – can lead to good things.
Already, by that point, Tim had published me in the latest issue of his new magazine Rising, and though I no longer went to The Hard Edge Club, whenever I sent Tim poems, he always wrote back with cheery friendly letters and published me four times in total, which really helped me to keep going through lean times in terms of the writing, and also means I can now say I was featured in what has become a legendary mag that had published early poems by spoken word legends such as Salena Godden, Nathan Penlington and Francesca Beard – but poems by the great Doctor John Cooper Clarke as well. So that definitely was a silver lining, and it’s always nice to end the worst on a happy note!
(A moment of awed silence, then loud applause)What an amazing story, Tom! That’s incredible! So bitter-sweet! Tom, I could talk to you all day but the discotheque is open now, so lets give this gifted poet a big round of applause! (Standing ovation, loud whistling etc) Now, Tom, I hope you’re coming along to boogie. Middle Of The Road do a jam session there sometimes, and K C and the Sunshine Band might look in!
Tom stands up, limping painfully in his high platform shoes.
Er – I think I’ll give it a miss tonight, Heather. Thanks anyway.
This is a picture of me walking into The Memory Corner, where I recall times past. When we could be in a room full of people and poets! I expect most of us took this for granted!
This is me reading ‘The Call’ by Jessie Pope at A Commemoration of the Armistice Centenary of the Great War: 1914-1918. This was on Sunday 11th November 2018 at The Coach House in Twickenham. It was a wonderful and unforgettable event.
Lumme! Where does the time go?!
Do they have online scrap books? Well, they do now!
Drop me a line through the contact page if you have any poetry memories you’d like to share.
WELL, KEEP TUNED FOR MORE MEMORIES AND AN INTERVIEW WITH THE INCREDIBLE POET, THOMAS MCCOLL. DONT TOUCH THAT DIAL!!!
THE POETRY WINDOW HAS RE-EMERGED, AND THROUGH THE GLASS I CAN SEE A WONDERFUL POEM BY PHIL WILLIAMS. PHIL HAS COME OUT THE OTHER SIDE OF A PRIVATE HELL, AND HERE HE IS WRITING POETRY LIKE A DREAM! KEEP WRITING, PHIL! NOW A REGULAR AT POETRY AT THE ADELAIDE, WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING MORE….
HAS YOUR BEST FRIEND EVER TRIED TO KILL YOU?
"WE BECAME BEST FRIENDS WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN.
YOU GAVE ME SUCH COURAGE AND STRENGTH THE LIKE I HAD NEVER SEEN.
WHEN I LED THE SCHOOL TEAM TO VICTORY.
YOU AND I PARTIED ALL NIGHT. IT WAS A JOYOUS SIGHT.
WHEN I GOT THE GIRL.
I GAVE YOU AN EXTRA TWIRL.
WHEN I GOT THE TOP UNIVERSITY PLACE.
IT WAS ONLY YOU THAT PUT THE SMILE ON MY FACE.
WHEN I GOT THE WIFE, THE HOUSE AND THE CAR.
YOU NEVER WENT VERY FAR.
WHEN YOU HAD ME ON MY KNEES.
YOU TOOK AWAY ALL MY MONEY AND MY KEYS.
WHEN YOU HAD ME CLOSE TO DEATH.
EVERYONE COULD SMELL YOU ON MY BREATH.
I LOVED YOU ONCE.
AS I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME.
YOU TRIED TO KILL ME.
BUT TODAY, WITH GOD'S GRACE, I AM FREE."
FABULOUS, PHIL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.
LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING MORE SOON.
BACK SOON TAKE CARE