Last week, I took a fascinating poetry building blocks course with the wonderful Poetixu on Instagram and learnt some interesting new forms of writing poems.
The one that really stuck with me was the Cyrch a Chwta, an old Welsh form.
An Octave (8 lines), 7 syllables per line, all rhyming except the penultimate (line 7) and then the last rhyme has to rhyme with it at some point. Read on, hopefully for the uninitiated, this will be clearer than my muddled explanation.
Your performance was so dire So Like a funeral pyre It did not set me on fire And don’t call me a liar I knew you were crap prior And I heard all this via THE CRITICS WHO SAY YOU STINK! I think that’s on the flyer
And then we were set a bonus task with using rhymes that aren’t necessarily the same sound
Why do you look so gaudy? You flaunt it so completely People will think you’re bawdy And look at you so strangely I just think you are greedy You make all the girls angry Don’t go out looking like that Please don’t act like a floozy
H Moulson 2022
What fun! See if you can attempt that yourselves, and send them in on a postcard. Dobby will sort them, so be diligent. Thanks for tuning in, Poetry Lovers. We’ll be back real soon…..
Yes, I know. Another treat in the talk show studio. Today our guest will be Chris the Postman Poet! (Rapturous applause. Security is called)
(Chris glides down the lighted stairs effortlessly)
Thank you so much for coming on the show, Chris
The pleasure’s all mine. (Standing ovation. Host silences them with a look)
May I say I love that long hair. Do you blowdry it regularly?
Oh yes, I took great tips from Vidal Sassoon and Timotei
Well, it’s paid off. Lovely flowing locks there. Also adore the shirt. What a cool guy! (Audience cheer) Now, Chris, take that comfy seat and tell us about your background
Secondary education was largely a disaster for me. Doing the wrong thing with the wrong people. Less of a school – more of a regime. However, there was a brilliant undervalued art teacher who offered praise and encouragement and let me use his own watercolours. There was also a young forward-thinking English teacher, and I was lucky enough to be taught by him for a year. He read us Little Johnny’s Confession by Brian Patten. I didn’t realise how important this was at the time.
School finished abruptly for me after coming last in ”O” levels. A relief really. Then I was at the Ministry of Agriculture for seven years. Art took centre stage for me in pen and ink and watercolours, and I developed my style and started selling my work.
That’s amazing, Chris. There’s always a small ray of light, isn’t there. Some teacher with saving graces. Then you came into your own as an artist.
When did poetry become a part of your life?
During this time I was quite happy reading and enjoying poetry, along with other classic literature. Graham Greene, Thomas Hardy, Mervyn Peake, Iris Murdoch, so many great wordsmiths. Such great music and textures in words – The Tingle Factor! I was a sponge soaking it up. I became a postman nineteens years ago and it was a lifesaver! Painting and reading again. When you stop hitting your head with a hammer, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I started writing poetry four years ago.
I’m loving this journey, Chris. It wasn’t an easy one but you got there.
Who are your biggest influences?
Roger McGough, Adrian Henri, Brian Patten. How could they not be?! They’ve been simmering away in my head for decades! The mighty John Cooper Clarke. Always there. I love alliteration and the sound and rhythm of words, as he says: ”If it don’t sound good, it ain’t good.” The tragic Kirsty MacColl. She could write a funny and thoughtful story and put it into three minutes. And anyone who throws me a good line or idea.
That’s an impressive list, Chris. Are you working on a book or collection at all?
I probably am working on a book and if you’d asked me two years ago, I would have shouted Yes! The plague knocked my confidence and doubt crept in. When a live performance is up and running again, and I can do a proper gig, ask me then.
I know, we’re really living in limbo at the moment, aren’t we. And what live poetry there is now, it’s all very tentative. Well, I really hope you do. Your work is so funny and poignant (Audience cheer in agreement) Okay, we come to that most anticipated question; what is the best gig you’ve ever done, and the worst…?
Two gigs, if I may…. A few summers ago I was asked to do a 45 minute poetry slot at The Harry Edwards Healing Sanctuary open day. The building exudes a calmness and serenity, it felt like walking on air. The time went in a flash and was blissful. Forty people went away happy and smiling.
Dorking is Talking in November 2019, Isabel Morris’s brilliant poetry night – please come back! The Dirty Carols were the main feature and were staggeringly good. I was the first featured poet and after a shaky start, it went well. Isabel asked me back to do ”Cyclist” and the response was overwhelming. Thank you so much, Isabel.
As for the worst gig, my poetry is lightweight and I make no apologies for it. Although I do address serious issues. I want to make people laugh and perhaps take away a line that sticks in the mind. Sometimes open mic gigs can be very dark and claustrophobic, I want to run away screaming. I wrote ”The Poetry Imposter” after one of those gigs. Not a poem for a live set. Not yet anyway.
Ah Chris, you took me on another journey there. Yes, Dorking is Talking, what a great concept by Isabel Morris. Took me back to those heady and unsuspecting autumn days of 2019.
And you’re so right about some open mics, only another poet can understand that unwelcomeness.
Thank you so much for coming on the show, Chris (outstanding ovation from the audience. Security look nervous)
Now you must be going off somewhere really cool. The Lightbox disco perhaps?
I’ve got to condition my hair tonight, so I’ll probably give it a miss.
Me too. Feet up and watching Simon Dee for me. Thank you so much, Chris. You’ve been a lovely and insightful guest, hasn’t he, Poetry Lovers! (Pandemonium- Security are called). Our esteemed guest is smuggled out the building.
Wasn’t Chris the Postman a great guest?! Do catch him when you can, a lovely, funny and engaging poet.
Thanks for tuning in, PL’s, we’ll be back real soon….
A belated National Tea Day to you. Last Thursday I believe, and how could I not acknowledge such a cherished institution?! Especially with this wonderful piece from talented Trisha Broomfield and her beautiful poem that sums up how we feel about this lifesaving drink.
Thank you, Trisha. Please keep them coming. Read on, readers, this will ring true with all of us, I’m sure……
Who drinks my tea? (It’s National Tea Day!)
I prop myself up on one elbow take my first sip of tea
thank my God for a new day the bed is heavy
dreams fall away in jig saw pieces people I’ve never seen places I’ve not been, I take another sip the mug comforting my hand.
Aches of age harden morning shapes itself lighter than the night brighter
and there’s no going back, another sip a daydream and suddenly it seems my mug is empty
I am today and someone has drunk all my tea.
Wasn’t that just terrific?! Thanks again, Trisha, and thank you, PL’s for tuning in. We’ll be back real soon with more poetry adventures…..
Hannah Lowe Poetry Club Supported by the TS Eliot Foundation The Coronet Theatre 5th April 2022
I have to confess that apart from seeing this wonderful poet, I had an ulterior motive to exorcise memories of that former flea pit The Coronet. A cinema I frequented in the late seventies, a grim setting with unforgettable films like Jubilee. It was a dive, don’t be fooled by that sanitised image above.
Despite The Coronet now a theatre and beautifully cleaned up, the winding corridor still gave one the claustrophobic aura that a small cinema exuded. It was oddly appealing and something one once took for granted.
In the Coronet bar, where the reading was to take place, there was such gothic splendour and bohemian detail that complimented the fitting intimacy for this occasion.
The bar itself operated over a grand piano, which made it worth buying a gin and tonic. A dimly lit ambience embraced the audience who, like me, were eager to see Hannah Lowe, the 2021 Costa Book Award for Poetry winner. Having seen her read previously in 2019 at the Slip Off festival in South London, I looked forward to revisiting her work.
The radiant former teacher, incredibly modest about her prestigious award, greeted us on the stand and warmly began to read from the award winning The Kids, her collection of sonnets from her experience as a teacher in an inner-London school. This rang out clear with strong pieces like Simile, with the quote Timothy Winters has ears like bombs and teeth like splinters but it really focused on a girl no-one liked, Bobbi Bonniwell who the poet couldn’t forget – and now, neither would we. The startling All Over It opened the doors to the poet’s own family life with pupil, Dwayne. We were urging him not to back out the room as he does exactly that in the last line.
After the humorous and descriptive Pepys where classroom roles were reversed, Hannah Lowe gave us the joy of The Sixth Form Theatre Trip and the comparison of taking out dogs. Troublesome ones, disruptive ones but ones a teacher truly loved. Then we come to The Only English Kid where the pupil John is just that, his young shoulders carry the brunt of alienation and racial identity.
On this vein British Born gave us the irony of children bought up in cities of England and the bitter tang of racial prejudice. Very cleverly written and read. My heart lifted when the Art of Teaching was read, my personal favourite of this collection and the audience wallowed in such rich detail of this profession and pupils she knew so well, and looked into their souls. As a summary the theme was how to deal with bored kids, and lovely details of London slang.
I was so dreadfully moved over In H&M, and a teacher recognising a former pupil and how it stayed with them, and the girl shutting down before her. With great yoga class imagery and questioning the term Masterclass, Kathy, Carla was slickly projected and an ideal way to wind down this delightful session of poetry. A powerful book of sonnets and I would say parables too.
The Kids by Hannah Lowe published by Bloodaxe Books is worth a read and I’m pleased to say we’ll see a lot more of this prolific and talented poet in the near future. The next Poetry Club at the Coronet will be on 14th June. Well worth a visit.
Welcome back to the Poetry Basket Review. Today we have an absolute stunner by the very talented Pratibha Castle titled A Triptych of Birds & A Few Loose Feathers. Her award-winning debut pamphlet gets a well-deserved hot review.
Pratibha has been highly commended in various poetry competitions, and longlisted for The Bridgeport Prize 2021, and joint winner of Hedgehog Poetry Press competition, Nicely Folded Paper in 2019. This is an impressive background and worth reading on;
A Triptych of Birds & A Few Loose Feathers by Pratibha Castle
A striking title and clever subheading, I was immediately engaged by Pratibha Castle’s award winning pamphlet, and jumped willingly on board for this journey. As much as I urge you to join me, do not be fooled into thinking this is an easy trip. There is a painful and dark bumpy ride before us, quickly becoming a mission you cannot resist, and wouldn’t dream of alighting from. The text opens up beautifully as the very visual Heartsease greets us, drawing us in gently. Merging nicely with the landscape and emotions of South Downs. When we reach Sparrow Love, our route takes on a tender and painful child’s view, and revealing to us the underlying pitfalls of human behaviour. The recurring birds draw a painful parallel.
Padraig – Who Drove The Snakes Out of Ireland is such a powerful catalyst making our voyage take an intense turn. Padraig meaning noble and Irish for Patrick, the reader is drawn in to the poet’s skill that weave between nature and childhood. A vivid piece, ending with dry humour of the father’s alleged sainthood. Loved it. However, the bitter turning point in the last verse emphasises how life changes for our narrator. The convent school that is as corrupt as any corporation. Ending with a very profound last line.
Descriptive powers come through in Riddles, my favourite line being ‘She purses citrus lips..’ Just one of the detailed descriptions that keeps the reader rooted. A difficult relationship with parents rings loud, and Homework only highlights this with the interaction with her father. This title can mean so many things to us, so intricately described as the conflicting emotions during commonplace routines. I particularly loved the ironed copy of The Times and the disturbing end stanza.
Soaking in this intensity, we say no to a rest stop and go on to read Koala. I tried not to let feelings of envy choke me, as I have always yearned for one of those – or do I now?! The dark connotations from a seemingly innocuous toy becomes something more complex altogether. Exodus is atmospheric with the terror of confession combined with the image of Mary Quant lipsticks. Only skilful writing could do this. This piece unravelled more about the poet constantly moving houses, facing another school of strict nuns and bullying.
Plums is so symbolic and intriguing and the reader feels the discomfort of that grim red leakage. The nature of birds that sits alongside human emotion is put over very succinctly. However, my absolute favourite Hippy Chick Blues gives us the atmosphere of Portobello market, and borders on the romantic. The ardour is dampened down by her mother’s caution. Love this poem right down to the need-of-repair jeans.
The Only One Who Loves You takes us to London in ’68 from squalid bedsits to dubious communes. Most vitally, it is a razor sharp perspective of a young girl trying to embrace the sexual revolution. Love is an ether you can choke or float in is an unforgettable line. Swans excels by poignant descriptions of living in a Finchley flat that is never a real home. Underlying Catholicism and Irish heritage are laid bare as a mother bakes. The subtext has a real sense of these things slipping away from under our noses. The writing works beautifully. On Reaching Heaven we arrive at a stunning tribute to a lost mother, emphasising the pain of separation that moves us all. The reader’s eye goes straight to the emotional structure and its moving message.
Refuge is a fitting stop to our journey, engulfing ourselves with surrounding beauty and descriptions. An incredible and intricate account of nature and emotion is a good way to conclude our trip, leaving us with so many images. I’ll happily jump on this poet’s bus again.
Today, we have a beautiful touching poem from the lovely Trisha Broomfield that’s on such a personal subject and so much a part of us – our skin.
I couldn’t resist sharing this moving piece (and illustrating it too!). After this poignant poem, there is a second one not nearly so (skin) deep but still skin related and the things we used to put up with.
Anyway, read on;
My skin is my mother’s, soft and yielding
scored by bra straps scarred by childbirth
it is my father’s, strong and pliable repelling the outer world protecting his home and family
my skin is thin lets others in too sensitive by far but my skin is my mother’s soft and yielding
my skin is my father’s strong and pliable repelling the outer world.
Trisha Broomfield 2022
Red marks under breasts from cheap bras
Shoulders indented from their gruesome straps Patterned knickers from Bargain basements
That folded into young buttocks. Sanitary belts pulled on cramping stomachs
Later, Nikini pants that chafed between thighs When those marks of living faded, And before the winceyette nightie
was pulled on over greasy hair You could finally see skin
H Moulson 2022
Wasn’t that just wonderful?! Thank you so much, Trisha. Please keep them coming.
Thanks for tuning in, PL’s. We’ll be back real soon….
Okay, Poetry Lovers, settle down! Welcome back to our talk show studio where we are expecting the lovely poet, Douglas Graham Wilson! (Pandemonium)
(The host raps a ruler on the desk There is rapt silence)
Now Now, you don’t want me to interrupt Security’s fag break, do you?! Lets give a very warm welcome to our guest today, Douglas Graham Wilson!
(Studio shakes with ecstatic applause)
Douglas glides elegantly down the lighted staircase
So, Douglas, welcome to the show. I admire your velvet bellbottoms
Oh thank you, you don’t think it’s a bit much with the loganberry cravat?!
(Audience emphatically disagree)
If a cool guy like you can’t get away with it, then no-one can! Isn’t that right, aud?!
(Ecstatic endorsement from the audience Five minutes of applause)
So, Douglas, thank you so much for coming on the show, tell us something about yourself. Such as how did poetry become a part of your life?
Thanks for having me. I began writing poetry around 12 years old after I was encouraged by my English teacher, Mr Black. We had to write a poem for an assignment and he was really impressed with my poem. I have been writing ever since.
My biggest influences are TS Eliot, Rumi, June Jordan and Charles Bukowski.
Very impressive influences .Teachers can be such a part of who we are. They can go one way or another, but for you, Mr Black sounded like he went the right way!
Now, tell us about your wonderful new collection
Of Love and Other Maladies consists of poetry selected from a larger manuscript of my poetry spanning around 20 years of work.
A highly commended collection, what is your personal favourite?
My personal favourite in the book is the poem Decomposition
Ah yes, a very powerful piece. Mine was Ethan because of the strong and heartrending interaction between two lovers. However, I had a wealth of favourites in there, including Decomposition
What is your next step? Live readings? Are you working on something else now?
Yes I will be doing readings at the next Celine’s Salon in Soho, and there are other plans in the works for other venues. I am also busy compiling another manuscript.
Excellent, we’ll watch this space. I can’t wait to read more work from you. Now,
(nervous gasps from the audience),
tell us the best gig you’ve ever done, then the Worst!
The best gig I ever did was the opening night of my debut performance poetry show, IndirectConfessions in Cape Town, South Africa. It was jam-packed and flowed so beautifully with a truly appreciative audience.
The worst gig I ever did was the closing night of my debut performance poetry show, Indirect Confessions, in Cape Town, South Africa.
We extended the run too much so audiences gradually dwindled; on the last night there was just a handful of fidgety people and for some reason sirens and garbage trucks outside kept on interrupting my performance at poignant moments! We live and learn…
Oh no! Don’t those moments go on forever?! And in the same venue as your hallowed one too! Yes, we certainly live and learn
It’s been terrific having you on, Douglas, and a great experience. Now, you must be going somewhere really happening afterwards…
I’ve got to practise walking in my new platform shoes first, so it’s straight home for me.
Ah me too. Feet up in front of Z Cars Well everyone, give the lovely Douglas a big round of applause and er – take care up those stairs. What are those heels? 4 inches?
I will! Thank you and goodnight
Douglas cautiously climbs the lighted stairs
Wasn’t he just a wonderful guest, Poetry Lovers and studio audience?! Stay tuned for more poetry antics real soon….
Today, I would love to share this moving and poignant piece from the wonderful poet, Trisha Broomfield who I had the pleasure of meeting up with last week at the Cranleigh Arts Centre. Not only did we have a lovely slab of orange polenta cake but so many memories of reading poetry there returned to us.
Titled A Letter to my Daughter, I found it stirring and profound. It put me in mind of Dorothy Parker too, and the details of how a young girl has to live. Do have a read, and tell me how much you learnt these things in life the hard way! I know I did!
Letter to my Daughter
Don’t wear white to eat
beetroot or bolognaise,
drink coffee wearing black,
wear lipstick to win an argument
glasses to return expensive items
to a shop.
Carry a bottle opener in your bag,
in case you meet
a lonely Aussie.
your sense of humour,
pack a smile, use often,
it baffles those who have no smiles of their own.
Learn how to swear in different languages,
how to do a handstand,
how to sew and cook,
find a partner with these skills.
Learn to change a bulb,
do not be defined
by those around you
you are your own person
and being alone is actually being
Learn to be unafraid
do not say ‘I don’t mind’,
you have mind,
exercise your right to use it, lose it
and change it often, (see line 23).
Fill your heart with love,
you will never have to search
others for it.
Buy the best you can afford,
clothes and carpets,
give freely to those who cannot afford
remember your name
and give it a clear voice,
it may have been my choice
but it is
Isn’t that a stunning piece?! Thank you so much, Trisha. Lovely poem, especially with all the life details in it. Please keep them coming…
Thank you so much for tuning in, PL’s. We’ll be back real soon from inside the studio – yes! There’ll be an interview! Book your tickets or get queuing now!!!
Welcome back to another Poetry Basket review, and today we have an absolute belter, Douglas Graham Wilson’s new collection Of Love and Other Maladies. A wonderful poet and friend, Douglas takes us on a real journey of emotion and human situations, and I’m proud to present a hot and well deserved review ;
Of Love and Other Maladies
Douglas Graham Wilson
I was thrilled to receive the first poetry collection from that vibrant poet Douglas Graham Wilson. Succinctly titled Of Love and Other Maladies, it is sleekly presented and designed by the relatively new Wordville Press.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing this skilled poet from Cape Town read his absorbing and intricate pieces live. I also recall he was the first person I spoke to at Soho Poets, such memories!
We open with the very visual Lucien in Alabaster, essentially a sensuous title for a sensuous piece. Followed by A Teaspoon of Honey which eclipses the weight of sensuality. The Field, one of the longer pieces in this book, cleverly combines emotion and a description of the elements. The cleverly inconsistent structuring truly works and jumps out at the reader. While Undertow reveals a common human situation told with tense pacing.
I adored the wistful nostalgia of A Walk through Regent’s Park, because despite a real presence, the reader knew something had gone. This is welcomed by the spirituality of A Deep Blue Truth. Another longer piece Ethan, is a razor sharp insight into a relationship or potentially the end of one, which flows while being uncomfortably authentic. The poet gives us a clear window into these painful situations. I loved the concluding two profound lines that spoke volumes;
it began to rain,
as you left
The Realisation carries rocky intimacy and the power balance from a relationship.
The pain is conveyed vividly, and well written. Human longing and the pain of separation follows us in Love at Long Distance. Wilson has a beautiful use of language and details our basic human longings.
So, we come to a fitting climax with A Shattered Heart. A powerful title for a powerful piece. Yearning, wanting, longing. Such a strong piece to leave us with. This flowing free verse works for the poet, and we are happy to absorb it.
Beautiful classy book of poems. Highly recommended. I hope we don’t wait too long for the next one….
To get a copy of this wonderful book, please click below ;