23rd February 2017, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN
A huge thank you to Wendy Klein, who made a fabulous job of being our Words & Ears solo guest poet on Thursday, after Daniel Brenchi-Sluman sadly had to cancel due to his wife being unwell. We're aiming to re-schedule Dan, so watch this space for that.
Wendy has a great gift for introducing her poems with just the right measure of anecdote, and her two excellent sets were rich, varied, and spread with warm wit - with everything from anti-psychiatry to artichokes, renouncing her US citizenship to a warning about arranging to meet people tracked down on Friends Reunited. We learnt about her upbringing - her grandmother's faith in stewed plums to keep her 'regular' - and about the power of a poem's well-written, and well-delivered, final phrase, in this case, how life is 'all about/holding on/ and knowing/when to let go'. There were moving poems about her parents - some 13 in her latest collection, Mood Indigo, are about her father - and we learnt about the sex life of the bee orchid.
Thanks also to Karen and Alan Summers, who held the W&E fort while I travelled back from a course in Bath. Karen read two of her poems which are included in a new disability anthology edited by Daniel Sluman, and recorded them live as part of that project. She has kindly offered to record Words & Ears open mic contributors at an event later in the year, if that would appeal to them - a great idea for anyone wanting to include a soundbite of their work on their website. Let me know if you'd be interested in having a go at this.
And thanks to the two brave and wonderful people who volunteered to be guest hosts of the event on March 30th (with guest poets Charles Lauder Jr. and Jennifer McGowan) and April 27th (with guest poets Susan Utting and Rishi Dastidar) in my temporary absence - more on their identities, and on those two events, to follow! And also news to come soon on a Bradford on Avon Arts Festival poetry competition, in collaboration with Words & Ears. First prize £500!
Meanwhile, thanks as always, of course, to all the open mic-ers for their strong contributions - new voices Eszter and Mary, plus Sam Loveless, Kate Escher, Ray Fussell, Frances-Anne King, Gary, Jinny Fisher, Alan Summers, Karen Summers, Stephen Payne, Ruth Sharman, John Hawkhead, Josephine Corcoran, Peter O'Grady, Luke Palmer, Pey Oh Colborne, Paul Brokensha and Francis Deas. Particularly memorable were Jinny's nun, scurrying towards Duty Free, and Pey's delicate acting out of Chinese characters written into her three-part ekphrastic poem.