Dónall was hosting as always, with an introductory set that included poems from his own new collection, Gerry Sweeney’s Mammy and a poem inspired by the painful tooth he was waiting to have extracted that week, which he called “M.O.T” – which concluded that at least his hair was in good shape, if nothing else was! But his hosting mechanism was as functional as ever. Here’s the video.
Timothy Adès has a new book of his translations of the work of the surrealist poet Robert Desnos. He’s entitled it Robert Desnos, Surrealist, Lover, Resistant (Arc Press, 2017 and read poems that express all those aspects of this remarkable poet’s life. Timothy’s enthusiasm is infectious and his readings are vigorous, especially those from the original French. In his second set, he aired some poems from his translations of Victor Hugo’s work.
His account of the exploits of Desnos as a resistant to the Nazi occupation (which led to his imprisonment and death on a forced march between concentration camps) was very moving. Desnos’s unrequited love affair with a beautiful Parisian entertainer inspired some of his most touching love poems. Timothy’s translations, most in rhyme, corresponding with the original French, stand as works of poetry in their own right.
Wendy Falla’s first collection of poems was published in October by Dempsey & Windle. Wendy comes from the Channel islands and in “The Venus Pool” she tells stories of Sark, the tiny island where, still, no cars are allowed. We were charmed by Wendy’s poems, which are narrative and evocative of the people and landscape of her childhood home. “A Letter from my Mother” was poignant but Wendy’s dryly humorous slant made us smile despite ourselves. In “Grumpa” we met a fine old character; “Cidre” and “Black Butter” told of traditional channel Islands cooking; all Wendy’s poems are based in personal experience and the more appealing on a universal level for that.
Bobby-Jo delivered her dramatic poem pleading for mercy on “Mother Earth”. Her delivery was impassioned, her word-picture of global pollution and climate change apocalyptic, an impressive performance.
Richard Hawtree's poem “Helping Syllables” was a meditation on those extra syllables used by Celtic English speakers to soften clipped speech and in “Shedding Tears” he recalled a schoolboy’s response to Book 11 of the Aeneid.
Gareth Toms had come up from Portsmouth again and read his poem about woodlouse Immigrants, a political parable.
Eddie Chauncy read “Off”, a plea for pause, for quiet contemplation and silence to “let the evening speak / make you afraid…” and “get used to your mind until it’s part of you”. In “The Job Interview” Eddie imagined Eve being interviewed for the job of Adam’s partner in Eden. This made all of us smile.
Kyle McHale read two new poems: “Scraps” “inspired by two very Surrey ladies” ; “Jurassic Coast, “where it all joins together” and “The Ruin”, a poem edited from one that Kyle claimed I had rejected unceremoniously from his pamphlet, And no Bird Sings. He’d fixed it up nicely, anyway.
Next month is almost upon us – on Monday 4th December we welcome John Wheeler back as a guest, alongside Marc Brightside, the author of Keep it in the Family (Dempsey & Windle 2017).