Sun, rain, sun, rain…it’s almost as if no one told the sky that half-term was coming up. And to top it off, I now have a cold.

Despite this, I’ve still been busy badgering away at editing, and planning a new very scaleable solo reading format/almost-mini-show that I’m hoping to test out at a reading later this month. But, more on that in a later blog, first:

#100kindsofhappy (cont’d)

62.
cidering outside
grass softens hard earth, birds sing
pink clematis clings

63.
summer sun slows hours
as if our life span widens
when time’s spun from light

64.
saying no, knowing
that the world won’t end-
orse those offended

65.
being yes, no less
acceptance in known cells, no
thing except fizz bliss

66.
gentle hammock sway
head rested in sunshine birdsong
leaf dance on my page

67.
crease of bone achings
joints that creak rust, then loosen
eased by soft kneading

TO BE…continued

Wild and Foxy with V. Press Poets + Guest Poet Antony Owen

It’s Droitwich Summer Festival coming up next month, and I am again organising the live lit evening. Having had six months out of committee work while I finished my MA, it was rather a shock landing to get back into things with just 10 days to organise something before the festival brochure deadline. I am rather proud with what we do have organised though. Last year’s event was such a great event, with an amazing atmosphere, that I want this year’s to be at least as good, if not better. So we’re at the same venue with a few differences – a theme, fewer headline poets and more open mic slots. I have a few advance slots still up for grabs – so email ASAP on lifeislikeacherrytreeATyahooDOTcom, if you’re interested. Event details are:

“A DROITWICH café-bar is set to get Wild and Foxy for a special out-of-this-word festival celebration.

The FREE spoken word evening at Park’s Café on Saturday, June 28 is part of this year’s Droitwich Summer Festival line-up.

The Droitwich Arts Network (DAN) live lit event will be headlined by V. Press poets Catherine Crosswell, Jenny Hope, Ruth Stacey and Sarah James, with guest poet Antony Owen.

The four Worcestershire poets will be dishing up a range of poems for a range of tastes, revealing the theme’s literal and metaphorical flavours.

From nature and wildlife to poetry that’s a little more saucy, the evening will feature a small sample from the group’s V. Press anthology, as well as new performance work and poems from their individual collections.

Meanwhile, this year is the centenary of the start of World War I and Coventry’s Antony Owen will be bringing the wild side of war and urban life to the live lit event.
All three of his published poetry collections focus heavily on people overlooked in society and conflict. He will be reading from his latest collection, The year I loved England, a collaboration of poetry with Birmingham Irish poet Joseph Horgan that will be published in July by Pighog Press.

The night, which runs from 7pm-9.30pm, will also feature an open mic section, where other writers, or acoustic musicians/singers, can share their interpretations of ‘wild and foxy’ (though please note, not too much sauce!).

Already signed up for these are Worcester poet Amanda Bonnick and Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2013-2014. Tim Cranmore.

These slots (of six minutes maximum) can be booked in advance by emailing DAN secretary and event organiser Sarah Leavesley on lifeislikeacherrytreeATyahooDOTcom.

Food will be available. Please contact Park’s Café on 01905 776 633 to reserve a table at the restaurant in Victoria Square, Droitwich.

There will also be the chance to buy books by the poets and get these signed.”

Microreview – Of Being Circular, & Poetry

The one advantage to being ill is the chance to catch up on some reading, so this week I have been enjoying Scott Thurston’s Of Being Circular (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press).

The pamphlet has a quiet but very appealing design – a piece of art by Stacey Dunkinson that evokes connotations and questions before I even turn the page. And the opening pages do not disappoint. These first five poems, starting with the title poem, are linguistically and philosophically challenging and thought-provoking – exactly the kind of thing I love. The other thing I like is the shifting nature of the ‘you’ in these poems, which sometimes feel like another side of the ‘I’ in a poetic monologue/introspection. Yet, at other times, I’m not sure isn’t actually another person or even a universal you. The range of possible interpretations and narratives I can make from these as a reader is exciting, and increases the relevance I can take from them.

The sparser, more pared-down lines of ‘The Young Designer’ sequence is intriguing in different way. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about modern art, fashion and design. But within the elements of description that evoke individual ‘assemblages’ which evoke that kind of world, the sequence builds to an overall word assemblage depicting modern life in general. And this in a way that naturally evokes unspoken questions about the validity, or not, of this society. My own particular favourite is ‘Dome Head’, which compels me to return to it again and again.

From this, naturally in a manmade way, into ‘For The Love’, a clever and darkly humorous piece about capitalism, the economy, insurance and risks.

‘A Dance’ then, appropriately for the pamphlet title, brings us back from society to the individual. This dance at first an energetic, word, rhyme and sound charged, rapid twist and twirl, giving way towards the end to a slower, gentler, stiller pace.

Overall, for me, this pamphlet is alive with pace, dance and wordplay. The speed of it is exhilarating, the stiller moments peaceful and the questions it raises about life, thought-provoking and relevant.

Other reading this week includes the American Poetry Foundation’s Poetry. I’ve enjoyed the online poems for several years but this year decided to try a subscription. There is still, for me, nothing like poems on the page that can be held in the hand. I’ve not been disappointed. The shape and feel of the journal is just right. As well as the poetry, I also love the cover art, the back cover quotations and the inner cover tributes. This month’s is particularly appealing. Among my favourite poems in this issue, you can read Bob Hicok’s ‘The pregnancy of words’ online here and Jessica Greenbaum’s ‘For a Traveler’ here. I also particularly enjoyed the poems from Katharine Coles.

And, with that, here’s hoping for a half-term with more reading but less rain and cold!