3rd January 2017, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN
Great to hear new voices at Words & Ears last Tuesday night, making for a rich and varied open mic as always, with topics ranging from absent mindedness to refugees. And it was particularly good to hear delicious sets from guest poets Angela France and Roy Marshall. I'd only heard Angela read the odd poem here and there before, so it was a real treat to sit back and listen both to poems from existing publications and to work in progress. I think we all warmed to the idea of those real stories, with, as she put it, the kind of blood and guts necessary to get to grips with life - the bloody smear on the crystal slipper - but I also loved the gentler poems about her grandparents, her grandfather who 'counts out seeds in threes'. And I know I wasn't alone in my pleasure at hearing some of Angela's poems from her collection due out in July, based on her own, intimate relationship with Leckhampton Hill near Cheltenham, blended with the landmark's own history. And most memorable of all, her work in 'Anglish' ('English with the Latin taken out') which is remarkably effective in connecting us back with the basic essence of England's past. It was wonderful to finally welcome Roy Marshall to the Swan, he being one of the runners up in our Poems-on-a-Beermat competition a few years ago. His set was moving and thought provoking, in particular his poems based on his work in coronary care where, 'in the hospital's concrete heart', we saw 'all our futures' in vignette after compassionate vignette. Especially strong was the sense of helplessness of the health care professionals in the face of strangers' grief - it's good to know that some of this this will be in Roy's new book, out in March.