This was the night we celebrated Eddie Chauncy: not only a recent milestone birthday, but also his long-standing status as one of Guildford’s most talented poets. Eddie has been reading at our events since we started out at the Bar des Arts in 2012 as Pop Up Poetry. We had persuaded him to appear in the showcase evenings we set up at G-Live (in 2014 with Apples and Snakes and in 2015 as The 1000 Monkeys, with the Guildford Fringe) but this was the first time he’d been billed as a feature at one of our open mic evenings. We were not disappointed.
Eddie’s poems have a meditative quality. His powerful emotional intelligence is held in balance with a feeling for the richness of the English language, by his sure sense of structure. Many of his poems are sonnets; some are rhymed, others not. Eddie pays tribute to his English teacher, Peter Way, for inspiring him to write when he was a teen-ager.
And then, the usual magic happened. Audience and readers materialised out of the damp night until we found we had an audience and a list of thirteen readers and I had to put back the chairs I’d taken away. In short, this was no longer just a “small intimate gathering” (in Eddie’s words) but another brilliant meeting of poets and audience and a varied menu of words, moods and songs.
Mixing it all together, Eddie's poems often have the feel of an everyday conversation, but contain many layers of philosophical challenge and verbal playfulness. He compares the art of a poet to that of a jeweller: the wish to make something of beauty that can catch light from as many angles as possible, but, above all, be useful to someone, somewhere.
Eddie delivers his poems with directness, quiet humour and a candour which always engages his audience. He sang two songs accompanied on his guitar. “It’s not my Land’, with which he finished his set, is an open yearning for peace and understanding which epitomises Eddie's character as an artist.
Eddie prefers not to have his work published, even in the 1000 Monkeys Anthologies, but this evening he had a pamphlet of twelve of his poems to sell at £2 each, in aid of the MacMillan Cancer trust. You can buy one here: https://www.justgiving.com/EddieChauncy, in aid of this excellent cause.
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2016 being the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, Dónall got into reminiscent mood with "Oor Hamlet" written by Adam McNaughton, which he performed after telling us many tales of favourite productions of the play. (Arnold Schwartzenegger's version was a surprise to most of us!)
Dónall's own poems are on the clip on the left.
Our open mic readers proved to be as diverse as ever. Our American friend, E Amato (Beth, below) read a new poem that the City of Pasadena recently commissioned from her, a city soundscape full of bells and sirens, the urgent sounds of the streets and the bustle of crowds. She also read “Sky's”, a poem by an old friend, FrancEyE, who was the mother of Bukowski’s daughter.
Richard Alleyn (right) made a welcome return with a new poem inspired by a news story about a fight for justice against wrongful conviction in the USA, and a poem to encourage young people to learn at school.
Jim Carter (below) read a John Cooper Clarke classic, “You’ll never see a nipple in the Daily Mail", and also treated us to a “Brief Encounter” with the “Bloke who isn’t there”.
Tony Baker (below) told us about his failure to get a thrill in Woolies (or was it woollies?) back in 1988, had advice about power hair-styling and discussed the uselessness of chewing gum and string to hold the average worker in emotional shape.
Karen Izod read two poems, in the second of which she memorably told us how in her pink dress she’d travelled backwards on a train back to her future. We loved both poems.
The saddest thing
that I ever did see,
was a woodpecker peckin'
on a plastic tree.
He looks at me
and "friend" says he
"Things ain't as sweet
as they used to be".
( !!!! it's the way Kyle tells 'em! )
And don't forget to send something in for our poetry competition!