Half past seven on a Monday night. We had the cake, we had Eddie Chauncy and his calm philosophical aura, we had a surprise guest from L.A. - and we had just four other poets. Fearing the worst, I tidied away the back two rows of the chairs we’d set out (at least we would have a full front row) and at 7.40, we made a start on the first Keystone Poetry Open Mic Night of 2016.
Of his other influences, he has said: “While at Cambridge, I studied the Romantic poets, and was fascinated by the ideas behind the Lyrical Ballads, in which Wordsworth and Coleridge sought to show how poetry can find richness in the language of everyday conversation. However, I was also taken with the linguistic dexterity of Shakespeare and Pope, and the metaphysical poets' use of extended analogy.”
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.
His themes are the universal dilemmas of our humanity: often an observation of everyday life leads him to a philosophical thought. In “Ant”, for example, he watches an ant climb his wheelie bin and muses upon the scale and perspective of human ambitions; in “Leaves and Flowers”, talking with an old man sweeping leaves, he’s led to consider “how optimism grieves.” In “Friends like Starbucks” and “They can’t Press Send” he explores friendship and love through modern metaphors.
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.
I took an open mic spot and read two more of Beth’s own poems, “Orion” and “Taxi by Taxi” both from her book “Will Travel” (Zesty Publications, 2013), and one of my own: “Threads”.
Kyle McHale’s “poem by someone else” was a memory from his childhood, by Shel Silverstein (quoted below): Kyle’s own poems had a more mature tone: we are, he said, the things the light becomes. He also showed us Angel Wings and a Granite House. We’re looking forward to his feature set next month, on 1st February.
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! )
Next Month - Kyle McHale is our Featured Poet.
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Janice & Dónall Dempsey
We are poets, writers, spoken word performers, editors and organisers of spoken word events, based in the United Kingdom.