On dry lips.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud” (Wordsworth)
“I do not like green eggs and ham” (Dr Suess)
“They sent me a salwar kameez” (Alvi)
In January or February of this year I participated in my second ever poetry reading. I wanted to be involved in this, because I enjoy hearing others read their poems. I also feel a sense of achievement from reading my work to groups as well. It was a surprise on the night of the recital, at least to myself, that I was not moving around awkwardly in my seat in the 10 minutes before meeting the audience. I had feared that I would succumb to nerves which would affect my ability to recite what I’d practiced reading, the whole week before the recital. Thankfully these nerves, never, came. And so it was that with light shoulders, and clear mind, I read three of my poems: Truth, Driver’s Bed Time, and Patch.
I believe now that the reason my confidence was heightened at this second recital, was three-fold. Firstly, I actually knew many of the people in my audience. This was handy as these recognisable faces gave me something to focus on, when I suddenly realised it was my voice that was the sole sound in that room full of people. A second thing that put me at ease was that I was not first to read. Indeed there were other readers before me, which gave me time to compose my thoughts. Despite this, I still hit a cliched ‘sticky patch’. My printer broke down when I was about to print my work! My decision to take photos of my poems with my phone so I could read them, worked! Until I was on stage and my phone took ages to switch on. Thirdly I was more relaxed as I arrived in good time for the start of this event, unlike my first time at a reading when I had been unavoidably detained for the first hour and a half. That time, I had created a movement within an audience who were like chemical particles. This second time however, I took my seat before the event even started, and actually had time to talk to those people I knew.
When it comes to what you hear at poetry readings, it’s true that one is in danger of being seriously inspired and experiencing inspiration overload. One particularly energetic school teacher at my first reading passionately used his physical and vocal presence as a way of engaging the audience. At the second event, we also sat stone still as a woman read a poem whose vivid imagery and detail meant it could only have been about one topic; the Second World War. Another person used one of their poems to tell us about their appreciation for one part of Britain.
Since the above was written I have read at my third event. This was Women’s Voices Ring Out in Wakefield. I had an amazing evening at this event too since I was on the same bill as about 10 highly talented writers, and once I’d read I was part of the audience that was treated to their array of topics. As was equally true at other readings I’ve been involved in, each poem that the writers showcased at Women’s Voices Ring Out was an inspirational piece of work that had the ability to explore real human feeling and emotion. As before, there also was a mountain of literary treasures: from the works of the writer who reflected on the thoughts of various people in society, to a moving poem about motherhood, to the other beautifully written examples of poetry and song in between.
In conclusion poetry readings are a nice way to be involved in your community and to meet people – whether you’d like to read, or simply listen. Granted not everyone eagerly jumps up at the chance to do public speaking. The great thing about poetry events is that the choice of involvement is wholly personal, and someone can have any level of participation they chose. If you’d like to be a part of poetry readings then you’re sure to take something positive from what you hear, and to grow in confidence if you do share something. Poetry readings are then in my view, ultimately a brilliant use of anyone’s evening. It’s for this reason that I am due to read at my fourth.
Long may creative spirits reign!
By Amanda Lynsdale
Photos by one of the Women’s Voices Ring Out event organisers, Hamila Mayat.
1.Poetry reading “Women’s Voices Ring Out” 18.5.2015 – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=826499440771133&set=pcb.826500717437672&type=1&theater – accessed 25.5.2015
2. Poetry reading “Women’s Voices Ring Out” 18.5.2015 – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=826499174104493&set=pcb.826500717437672&type=1&theater – accessed 25.5.2015
For the next three days you can see members of Leeds Survivors Poetry featuring in last Sunday’s Songs of Praise.
In its 20 year history Leeds Survivor Poets haven’t made TV very often. There was the Poetry World Cup in 1998 which merited a mention on Calendar. (We were runners up and got the Poetry Saucer, after I couldn’t find a rhyme for ‘orange’ in a poetry shoot out). But last Sunday we got a whole 3 minutes on Beeb 1 as they had a special programme from Leeds. They featured various Leeds religious folk and the things they get up, including Leeds Carnival, hip-hop, photography, and they followed the lovely Sue Matthews, one of LSP’s regular members, as she came to one of our workshops at the Civic Hall.
Here’s Sue at a previous workshop, and (below) at one of the group’s readings in Kirkgate Market a couple of years ago.
LSP continues to meet every first and third Friday evening at the Civic Hall, 5.45 to 7.45, next meeting on Friday 5th September.
Our bit of the Songs of Praise programme comes after 24 mins 30 seconds.
I recently received an invitation to attend a free bloggers brunch, complete with Bloody Mary’s. A cynic might have concluded, “there is no such thing as a free brunch” and declined the offer…I did not!
The stated aim of the venue offering the brunch, was to test run the menu prior to the its launch date, scheduled for a week hence. They were keen for those present to comment on the quality of the food, the menu’s proposed pricing and service. I’d considered they might expect a favourable blog review. Didn’t they know I wasn’t a food blogger? I wondered how, as an amateur blogger, more used to writing about my ways of remaining well, I’d pitch my piece.
What I’d particularly liked about the invitation was that it stated the event wasn’t primarily about networking. The brunch was advertised as an opportunity for we guests to have a leisurely Saturday breakfast, with friends or family. The manager, and another very attentive member of staff, only interrupted discreetly to ascertain our viewpoint.
Other food blogging events, I’ve attended,…..(I like food)
had networking and brands as a significant part of the interaction. (not quite my cup of tea). Most in attendance at those previous gatherings were more concerned with eeking out an existence from small indie businesses, rather than making mega bucks.
At times I’d been hesitant to attend, would I be the only un-glossy person there? Although PR, food criticism and photography might be considered glam jobs, and professionals do frequent these events, I found them a decidedly unstuffy bunch. Their passion for food, writing blogs and photography was most in evidence.
Naturally enough discussions about mental health are not a feature of these events. It can be disquieting to step out of circles where discussions on lived experience of mental distress are commonplace. When I do attend, I try to dispel any discomfort I feel by reflecting that of the 20 or so present, most will have experienced life events that are equally difficult. Additionally I keep in mind, 1 in 4 members of the population are affected by mental illness at some point in their life, thus making it highly probable some in attendance are similarly affected. Appearances can be so deceptive.
Eating nutritiously, having an absorbing hobby, and sharing ideas with others has and remains part of my journey on the wellbeing route. Eating nutritiously is perhaps the one I do least frequently or well. I love tasty food and shopping for ingredients, but carrying them often sees me too tired to cook them straight away. Other interests, an inadequate kitchen space are all other excuses I make! Fortunately I know some quick fix recipes and some of Leeds cheap, quality back street eateries.
My companion and I were first to arrive for the brunch, a few blogging/foodie, cultural types sauntered in a bit later. I thought perhaps a nod of recognition would suffice, however many seemed more honed on the Bloody Mary’s, or Bloody Shames!.(all juice, no booze), Pleasantries were reserved for the farewells, perhaps it was the post brunch, soulful, bluesy live guitar music, or the affect of the Bloody Mary’s, but people did seem more convivial by then. More used to seeing some with their other hats on, it was nice to find out a bit more about them while in leisure mode.
I felt a level of obligation to write a blog about.Soul Kitchen, my friend and I both enjoyed the Johnny cakes with eggs that we had chosen, however writer’s block had me seriously in it’s grip. Other writing and reading goals had me challenged, but I recalled the comments of a professional writer who’d said they were dubious about people who say that writing is their passion. He quipped they couldn’t be doing it right, which implied he too found writing, his chosen profession, hard. These comments helped me to stick with my attempts to transfer the ideas which swirl in my mind, in to typeface or on to paper.
In summary eating from the Deep Southern, Carribean, Creole influenced menu was no hardship, it was a very pleasant experience. I’ve since returned, the quality and taste was just as good. The pricing might mean it will be an occasional treat. Those watching pennies and calories, might choose the Fruit Loops. The venue, Soul Kitchen is situated in the airy space of the The Wardrobe bar, (opposite the bus station), an aptly named place to slip into something casual….perhaps not your pjs.
Soul Kitchen also serve evening meals.
Hello again. On this dark wet afternoon, here’s a dark poem! Some of you might be familiar with the title
SHINY BOOTS OF LEATHER
The only men
Who are fully grown
And never childish
Are evil men.
I watched a film
Made by Hitler’s chums.
They thought the Aryan man
Was a macho man.
But in the discos
Of San Francisco
A moustachioed Nazi
Flecs his pecs
Admires his glistening chest
Scans the club
For the submissive.
Some ladies in the corner
Wearing stupid wigs
Just laugh at him.
‘Not to my taste darling,’
‘The seventies are over honey’
But the Nazi does not
Go home alone
He’s got himself
Something nice and naive
Who wants to see his camp.
Call it youthful folly.
But the folly
By the Iron Crosses
‘Don’t worry,’ says the Nazi
‘It goes back to my punk rock days,’
‘We all used to do it.’
‘Before my time,’ says the folly.
The Nazi grinned, showing gold teeth.
‘Your my time is now, my love.’
Daniel Tavet (c)
( image from http://www.howardmodels.com)
On 11th December the Arts and Minds Network celebrated the idea that creativity can be a light in the darkness. It was a winter (not Christmas) celebration with a twist. Yes, there were mince pies, but we also had the chance to turn our hand to creative writing, with the expert guidance of Linda Lewis. Continue reading
Just at home, got a bit of internet time, which I don’t normally have. Thought you might like another poem.
A forty-something male
Gave a patronising smile
A twenty-something male
Smug in his belief
That his age made him wiser
And his class
Dean covered up his indignation
At the staid hoary suit.
The grey pinstripes
Of a man with no blood.
See him tower
Over the powerless
Or those with wide eyes
And lolling mouths.
“Automatic good manners
Serves a purpose,”
“It goes back to the Normans
Kept the peasants in check.”
Dean was a stranger here
And thought best to do as the Romans.
Once business was done
He’d soon be home
Playing computer games
And smoking dope.
Had a hard day’s work ahead
And was dependent on trainees.
“Where’s my temp with the nose stud?”
She was in the car park
What to make Dean
For his tea.