who don't like words!
Timothy Adés, the poet and translator who wrote this little rhyme, is one of the guest poets who's been disappointed to lose the chance to feature as our guest at Poetry at the Bar des Arts in 2015 - 2016.
We have to apologise profusely to all our followers and the guests we had booked up to March 2016. We were only given nine days' notice of the change of ownership and name and the discontinuation of our events. We have always financed our own events, used our own technical equipment and our own money on these evenings, so that we could offer poetry and the chance to read, free to all comers.
It’s the end of our beginning as The 1000 Monkeys, and though we’ll be sad to lose the use of Sara Burks’ elegant venue, we’re seeing this as the stimulus to build up our other monthly series, at the Keystone Pub in Guildford, where we've been hosting a separate series since September 2014. We'd like to make The 1000 Monkeys’ presence there as popular and enjoyable as Pop Up Poetry became over three and a half years and 40 events.
Images of holes through which to fall, which must be stitched or embroidered, of soft fabrics, dark pockets, crisp cotton sheets, run through many of the poems. Spiders are there, with threads packed into their abdomens, creatures whose carapaces are regularly shed, soft creatures stripped of their shells, metaphorically and physically (The Muscle Feast), the sea, its features and its creatures (Deciphering the Sea to my Baby; Dungeness). And there are meetings , mostly, it seems, of discovery (The First Time We Went to Bed; Renaming, Afterwards), with all the risk and hope that implies.
Above all, these are poems about longing, loss, discovery and memories of emotional and physical contact. They are intensely sensual. This is a book to be absorbed slowly, by frequent re-reading and leisurely unpacking of the treasure in each line.
Zelda Chappel, our first guest, read from her new collection, “The Girl in the Dog-tooth Coat”. Her readings gave a taste of Zelda’s voice on the page: tender, precisely pitched, detailed, concise and original. Zelda catches the complex layers of feelings in relationships and inner lives, in a net of deceptively simple phrases about ordinary things: A morning newspaper "lies spreadeagled" on the breakfast table, "conspicuously unread" (Afterwards); a moth, speaking for itself in the poem of that name, expresses the vulnerability and frustration brought about by the fragile, overlooked creature's longing for warmth and light but also for protection:
I cannot leave my word
so I leave holes for you to stitch, my scent.
I need you to know me ..."
Owen’s dynamic and totally charming performance had everyone in fits of delighted laughter. His first song, an appeal on behalf of zebras for political correctness (“Half white, half black”) nearly brought the house down. A Russian pop song (Owen-style), collective nouns for animals and for human beings’ jobs (“An ego of musicians” he sang!) and a twenty-first century love affair with “SIRI”, Apple’s new "intelligent" search engine, inspired other brilliant songs.
Owen’s musicianship and singing voice are as impressive as his sense of humour. No wonder his show at the Guildford Fringe was so successful in July this year!
The Open Mic ...
Dónall's opening introduction included "Shadows Hold their Breath", his recent poem in tribute to his own father who, when Dónall was an earnest little boy busy discovering poetry, would call him into his workshop to help with practical creativity.
Dan Smith was first up to the mic, He's popped up after moving back to Farnham having completed his post-graduate degree in Newcastle. Dan, flirty as ever, tried to entice another welcome old friend, Sue Kucko, to ignore the Bar's phone and be seduced as "The Girl at the Bar". Sue was Entertainments Manager when we first started up Pop Up Poetry and was working on the bar tonight for old times' sake. She escaped Dan's clutches but later sang us her Naughty Poem (what a great voice she has!)
Alex de Suys followed up, said Farewell and killed a few of those fluffy bunny rabbits and some bigger animals.
Alex Twyman was acclimatising, he said, and had crossed out DISCIPLINE; Kyle McHale's poems sat crumpled and beer-stained on his bedroom shelf, despite his old Professor's contention that poems don't get lonely because they read themselves in the meanders of poetry rivers. Brendan Clarke, a new face in Guildford and a compatriot of Donall's, told us how things were making sense.
Gareth Toms, one of the Portsmouth contingent, had tales of scarecrows in chairs and insisted he didn't want to die where he didn't want to die. Richard Williams, who with Richard Peirce should have been featuring in November, insisted that the media have never seen his Africa, nor indeed very much of the experiences of politics and society that he owns.
Janis Haves had an impassioned plea to smokers to take ownership of their own fag-ends. Geoff Pimlott, a very loyal member of the 1000 Monkeys whose experience of spoken poetry began in the Bar des Arts with Pop Up and the 1000 Monkeys' encouragement, read some of his earliest poems, including his surreal conversation about Alice, the rose and the transfiguration, a "found poem", courtesy of his mother-in-law Margaret's anxiety.
But Andy B J had won the last ever Bar des Arts Raffle and was walking away with hard-cover copies of "Go set a Watchman", "The Girl in the Spider's Web", et al. exuding (he admitted himself) smugness and the sweet smell of success.
Last to arrive and almost last to read, Andy V Frost added his own tribute to the general mood, and a personal poem, "The Prodigal".
"All good things come to an end" was the theme of one of Dónall's opening poems, Louis MacNeice's wonderful "Bagpipe Music".
All good things do indeed come to an end. Goodbye, Bar des Arts.
We continue at the Keystone, 3 Portsmouth Road, GU2 4BL, on the first Monday of each month, where 1000 Monkeys Poetry Open Mic is welcomed and the drinks and meals are brilliant - and affordable!