This week, I’m suffering from a bout of cabin fever (life stuff, eh). Just about everyone in the poetry world is sharing the love at Verve Poetry Festival (or so it seems, as social media serves to fuel my envy). I’ve also missed two Midlands poetry open mic nights and Saturday’s South Leics stanza meeting.
I’ve not been totally bereft of a poetry social life, though. Thanks to the kindness of a fellow Soundswriter who gave me a lift, I attended our poetry reading/discussion/workshopping meeting on Tuesday. And there have been ‘injections’ of poetry to sustain:
A Valentine’s Day gift from my husband (okay, I did drop a very specific hint about this one):
I was pleased to find this sassy little number includes Jo Bell’s ‘The Shipwright’s Love Song,’ which I think I first experienced as a film poem, a few years ago. (It might have been this one).
The latest e-newsletter from the Academy of American Poets comprised a themed selection of love poems; among them, Wislawa Szymborska’s ‘Love at First Sight.’ I love the narrative that belies the title of this poem – the premise that Chance has been toying with them/now for years. I’ve copied the last four lines into my notebook, to savour:
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.
Current reading also includes issue 58 of The North (I know, I’m really behind with my reading of poetry mags). I nearly punched the air on reading Anthony Wilson’s ‘I Come to Your Shit’ Hell, yes! (If nowt else, I hope I’ll be remembered as a supporter).
Whatever you’re reading, I hope it nourishes the parts etc 🙂 x
It’s been three years since the publication of Liz Berry’s Black Country collection. I remember devouring it in one sitting (that was greedy of me; it’s a rich dish, the better for savouring). It became my 2014 favourite, and remains high on my list of favourite poetry collections.
An infrequent Twitter visitor, I was pleased to spot a retweet for Saturday’s Warwickshire Poetry Voices event (thank you, @NineArchesPress) and promptly bagged a free e-ticket. After a short drive across the Leicestershire-Warwickshire border, my sat nav obligingly located nearby parking and I had time to enjoy a coffee beforehand.
The programme began with readings of favourite published poems and own work by members of Rugby poetry group (fresh from a workshop with Liz Berry, the lucky creatures). I particularly enjoyed hearing Maya Angelou’s empowering Phenomenal Woman and laughed aloud at Sophie Hannah’s If People Disapprove of You, both new to me, both striking a chord.
Liz Berry’s was a short reading in the time allotted, but a joy nevertheless. She gave her audience full permission to stretch [your] legs and have a good wriggle (proving that you can’t take the Primary teacher out of the poet 🙂 ) before opening with ‘Bobowler’, (a large moth) a poem commissioned by BBC local radio for National Poetry Day, celebrating the Black Country’s favourite dialect word. Berry followed with ‘Homing’, her love poem to the Black Country accent with its consonants/ you could lick the coal from. ‘Birmingham Roller‘ celebrates this dull grey city bird, the tumbling pigeon, in a dialect poem rich with gems such as tranklement and jimmucking. ‘Stone’ is a love poem for a rarer gem, the husband who gives a milk pan (and, more recently, we’re told, a glue gun) as a Christmas gift. Before concluding her reading with’Christmas Eve,’ Berry explained that, in writing the poem, she wanted to do for the Black Country what Dylan Thomas achieved in Under Milk Wood. And doesn’t she just!
Throughout, I barely glanced at my copy of Black Country. It was clear from the outset that these are love poems to the local language this Dudley-born poet grew up hearing, borne out in Liz Berry’s responses to questions from the audience afterwards.