Lost and Found: An Evening of Poetry

Our poetry group has blossomed. At the end of 2013 it was an endangered species. The library, where it began under the protective eye of David, a library assistant who is also a published poet, has been closed for over a year due to a devastating fire in the building next door.
We were moved to a library some distance way. Numbers fell. To be honest, they had already fallen when David was moved to a different library and a new library assistant was assigned to us. Celia and I, with our dying mothers, had other preoccupations. In November, the local authority decided that if only a couple of people were going to attend, it was no longer viable. The group would close. Perhaps, when our library reopens sometime in the distant and unspecified future, it might start again.
Could we, we suggested, run it ourselves in the interim? Suspend it rather than close it, let it loose in the community until new stabling is found?
So we sat in the pub and discussed how we would do it. We needed a venue. The pub landlady, asked for her opinion, was happy for us to meet there. In January we marked our new group with an outing to the TS Eliot Prize readings by the ten short-listed poets. In February we were at the pub. It was the same night as a Labour party fundraising quiz night, and pretty noisy. But there were three of us, and later Reuben and Emily came to find out what we were up to.
This was a lucky moment, as they have a gallery space nearby, and said they would be happy to host us. We had already arranged that March would be at the poetry library, so on a chilly night in April, five of us sat at a round table at Hotel Elephant with our poems and some lager. Ronnie, Reuben and Emily’s new puppy, was so delighted to see us he peed on the floor.
When I say our poems, I mean poems by others we had chosen. Some of you may remember this post. And maybe this one too.
Call it craven, call it cowardice, call it both, but we did not relish another evening of poems hymning the praises of Diana, Princess of Wales. So the rule is that you can only read poems by others.
And last night it was our May meeting. Another chilly evening given the time of year, but with red wine and a portable heater, we soon warmed up. And there were nine of us. Nine. This is a return to the numbers pre fire, to the days when David gave us copies of thoughtfully selected poems on the month’s theme.
It was such fun. Ben brought pictures. Our theme was lost and found, and Ben explained how artists, and he gave examples of works by Rubens and Seurat, deliberately lose lines, so our eye has to imagine what is there, work with the artist to enter the picture and understand it. It grounds us so we can comprehend the painting in stages like a story.
You could feel the attention play around the table like electricity. Shaughan read a poem by an American librarian that had Sandra whooping and snapping her fingers. It was in praise and defence of libraries, and when I speak to Celia, who is our secretary, making notes in stern balck of the poems read and matters arising, I shall ask her for the author and title. Guy read one about a father smiling nose to nose with his days old baby that got my emotions all stirred up. Liz had a poem about a man who was a political refugee, having to give away, bury and otherwise dispose of books he loved. It described their new lives on shelves in other people’s houses, or mildewing in a suitcase buried in the garden, and prompted a discussion about knowing poems by heart, and how Brian Keenan and John McCarthy made up new words to songs and poems to which they could remember only the first two lines during their long captivity.
Four of the people last night were new. All said they enjoyed it. I do hope they come again. Celia and walked home on air.
Time passed in a blink.

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9 thoughts on “Lost and Found: An Evening of Poetry

    • Well that will the decision of the group. I must admit I am rather enjoying our new surroundings, but the advantage of the library is that there are poetry books we can reach for, and the chance of greater cross pollination.
      That’s a long answer to say I don’t know. 🙂

  1. Glad to hear it’s thriving. I keep hoping life will slow down some so I can sit in. maybe this summer, after the move. I’m pretty quiet in groups, though.

    • I am really missing my little Olympus. On Sunday I am seeing Octavia and she is lending me her spare camera. I am keen to get another weatherproof one that is fairly robust so I can use it in all conditions and carry it around with me. Wifi would be nice too, but not a must. Small enough to carry about, a good lens, macro. The ones with super zooms tend not to be waterproof, so I can rules them out. At the moment I am considering an Olympus TG and a Lumix.
      If you have a group of likely neighbours who would join you in monthly poetry evenings, I would recommend it. It is uplifting and stimulating.
      Our theme next month, chosen by Guy, is farms and farming.

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