26th October 2017, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN
Our October guest poets, Sarah Watkinson and Jonathan Edwards, had much in common: they both have an interest in - and have poems about - animals; both write from various and memorable points of view (Sarah, for instance, as a dung beetle, Jonathan as a servant minding his master's seat in an 18th century theatre); and they both deliver their work with a bewitching gentleness, which made for a wonderful evening's poetry at the Swan.
Jonathan told us that 'being a poet is a bit like being a Mastermind contestant - you have to have a specialist subject', and Sarah's scientific background is certainly hers, but, coupled with her quirky imagination it produces some wonderful vignettes. 'How do you dress for photosynthesis?' she asks, imagining a woman who can live on light, like plants do. But she has some serious messages about our natural world, too, with habitat loss being 'a preoccupation'. Jonathan admitted that his speciality is 'animals that don't do stuff' - because when he observes them, they have a habit of becoming completely immobile, including lions ('sunshine with teeth) at Bristol Zoo, and hippos, which, eventually deigning to stir, are spotted by a little girl ('Dad, that island's moving'). His light-touch humour is delicious - I loved his description of his father trying to get a look at Sophia Loren when she was filming Arabesque in the village next to his in 1965. He spots her Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½wearing her cheekbones' and, watching from an imagined spot close by, Jonathan says Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½my father's breakfast is nervous in his stomach'. Great stuff.
There were some wonderfully quirky open mic contributions, too (we went into the 'poison garden' with Dominic Fisher; discovered what can be made from which tree with Dru Marland; and learned much about broken escalators from Tom Forrest), with other rich offerings on a busy night from Ruth Sharman, Stephen Payne, Deb Harvey, Frances-Anne King, Linda Saunders, Caroline Heaton, Hannah Teasdale, Ray Fussell, Mark Sayers, Jinny Peberday, Peter O'Grady, Francis Deas, Moira Andrew and Norman Leater.