31st January 2019

Ben Banyard
Carrie Etter

28th February 2019

David Cooke
Ian Royce-Chamberlain

28th March 2019

Philip Gross
Lesley Saunders

25th April 2019

Rachael Clyne
Janet Sutherland

30th May 2019

James Davey
Jinny Fisher

27th June 2019

Martina Evans
Aoife Mannix
Richard Douglas Pennant
Stuart Silver
Helen Moore

25th July 2019

Alison Brackenbury
Shirley Wright

29th August 2019

Michelle Diaz
Jonathan Edwards

26th September 2019

Sue Boyle
Maggie Harris

Paul Deaton

Guest Poet: Paul Deaton

Paul Deaton was runner-up in the 2010 Arvon International Poetry Prize judged by Carol Ann Duffy and winner of the SaveAs Writer's Prize 2016. Regularly published in The Spectator, and magazines including PN Review, The London Magazine and The Dark Horse, and is included in York Notes GCSE study guides. His debut collection, A Watchful Astronomy (Seren) published October 2017, is a Poetry Book Society winter recommended read.

Ramona Herdman

Guest Poet: Ramona Herdman

Ramona Herdman's pamphlet Bottle, which is about intoxication and obsession, was published by HappenStance Press in November 2017. Her poem My name is Legion: for we are many won the Poetry Society's Hamish Canham prize 2017. Her first full collection Come what you wished for was published by Egg Box. She lives in Norwich and is a committee member for Cafe Writers.

29th March 2018, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN

There were lots of rich points of connection at Words & Ears last night, both between our guest poets, Paul Deaton and Ramona Herdman, and the open mic readers - poems about fathers, being out in the elements, and both actual and inner journeys all gave the evening that gorgeous sense of connectedness which just seems to plan itself.
Ramona's relaxed, open reading style gave us an easy way in to the emotional layers of her pamphlet Bottle. In her poems about her father and his obsession with alcohol, there is both bluntness ('you shouldn't be so dead') and the complex ache of loss (a glass of whisky left out at night because 'it makes the mornings smell of you'). There's also much humour, and a terrific use of metaphor, in particular in her sequence about the circus (the freak show, for instance, gives us 'that man who lives by his hurt', while trapeze artists 'hold each other up with your beserk belief'). And in a powerful gear change, she delivered a gorgeously playful, sassy second half set (I loved the ferns' 'cool wet plant sex').
Paul also writes about his father in A Watchful Astronomy. 'He's', for example, is a list poem that deftly hurdles list poem expectations with line after line of fine, arresting images - he's 'crooked as the cat', 'an old gun with one last shot', 'a land where it's always raining'. His ability to see things with fresh eyes - that poetry thing we all do, or try to - is relentless and, I think, exceptional. I loved in particular the yellow-flowered gorse that 'goes up like hot fat' - and how about looking up at Jupiter, 'the same size as the stone in your shoe'? Great stuff.
Thank you to Ramona and Paul, and to all those who turned out on a very wet night to join us, including Linda Saunders, Brian Reid , Lesley Saunders, Stephen Payne, Sam Loveless, Nigel Guy, B Anne Adriaens, Kieron Bacon and all the other attentive and supportive listeners.