It's a cracking story, replete with psychological implications, as were the original classical myths. As Bethany pointed out, you can't have myths without blood-letting and battles. There are physical gender battles, too, as Demeter tries to defend her daughter.
Bethany's reading was, as always, dynamic and driven, appropriate to her epic writing style and her poem's vivid images of violence and sex.
The book demands reading from cover to cover: we heard enough tonight to ensure we'll do that.
Bethany Pope is an arresting figure and a sensational poet. Her latest book of poetry, The Rag and Boneyard (Indigo Press), is a rewriting in 17 cantos of the Persephone myth as a family tragedy that intersects with her own troubled childhood. Born in North Carolina and sent to an orphanage for three years at the age of twelve by her own parents, Bethany transforms the Greek myth into a tragedy of familial betrayal, set in the bootleg Southern States of America, with Persephone the innocent teenaged pawn of adult gods and goddesses transmuted into gangsters, her mother Demeter trying in vain to rescue her from them as Demeter the earth goddess pursued her daughter when Hades forcibly married Persephone.
Kyle McHale had a story from his Mediterranean holiday, about "Cretan Hilda", who ran away to the island in search of her self. His observation of a face in a train window also made a haunting poem.
A new reader at the mic, Danny Smith, overcame his fears and read an entertaining set, finishing with his poem about Tottenham Hotspur being beaten 5-1 by Newcastle (only football supporters will understand why this was good news for Arsenal, Danny's team!) It was becoming a night of football teams: Alex Twyman had been awarded the Lone West Ham Supporter's prize and Greg Freeman was to devote a poem to two Alfs - Garnett and Ramsey, England manager in 1966. Greg also had a poem about the night buses that are used as overnight accommodation by homeless people.
Geoff Pimlott was in defiant mood, claiming to be a "bad-ass poet" : he proved it by refusing to be sent off by Jan's assertive flashing of a yellow card - followed by a red one! He and Lorri are off to their other home in Thailand in a week or two, and Geoff was making the most of the open mic, so we forgave him! He was all for "confirming who you are", he said and celebrated "Beautiful Freaks" and his mother-in-law, vividly, before being escorted from the stage area!
Alex Twyman gave a wonderful reading from a work by Max Porter, entitled "Grief is the Thing with Feathers."
Eddie Chauncy had lovely measured philosophical poems. "So you wait" was about delaying acceptance of what life offers, for too long. "Secret Us" reminded us that what we are is more than a social or public person.
Richard Hawtree gave us more of his elegant translations from Greek texts, this time from Anacreon, and followed up with his poem on Selbridge Priory.
Karen Izod read seasonal poems: "August", with nods to T S Eliott and H E Bates, "The Garden Goes Over" and "Microcosm", which dealt with a sense of lassitude that grows over a week spent on holiday.
Josiah, newly returned from London, was in a skittish mood but read clearly and well. He risked a risqué poem called "Ten Tips for achieving Bad Sex" which was funny and strangely moral in that it turned good advice on its head as a warning. His more serious poems were interesting: the meditation on a religious site where many gods have been worshipped over ages was very thoughtful.
Michael Cutchey had a new crop of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, including `'necrobiosis", a description of corpses reviving and resuming their flesh in graphic terms.
Owen Osler reminded us of Nemesis - the passing of time - in his usual ironic way, and Martin Jones read some of his own juvenilia, including a poem on different kinds of love, with the sad refrain, "The absence of love".
Last but not least came Andy V Frost, fresh back from biking in Scotland, with poems about the experience.
Jeremy Loynes read about his transition from the rural landscape of the West Country to the city, and in a poem echoing with Gerard Manley Hopkins assonance, he denounced the "steel in the sky". Jeremy also had a poem that most of us related to easily - how the small things can be the most important factors in relationships.
Alex de Suys had a cross political set, which he delivered with admirable sang-froid. I enjoyed his measured rant, "Conspiracy Theorists" - an inverted ironic poem that made everyone grin and agree with its opposite ("why would bankers want to take all the power, all the money, ???"). "E-Poets" and "Buy British for all your defensive needs", also raised smiles.