28th January 2016, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN
In spite of the Coach House being as full as I've ever seen it (familiar faces, new ones, and even a dog!), this brilliant edition of Words & Ears was one characterised by absences. How so? Well, first we had Carrie Etter's beautifully read selection of poems from her student and friend Linda Lamus's posthumously published collection, A Crater the Size of Calcutta. Linda's rich imagery and imagination, and her over-riding sense of compassion, positively defied her physical absence from the room, and many lines, such as "a suit tight as a widow's wedding ring", will linger and linger.
Speaking of widows, there was, as is often the case at readings, a weird synchronicity afoot, and poems about death, grief and family losses of different kinds were numerous among the excellent open mic contributions. That said, there was much to cheer us, not least Matthew Stewart's witty behind-the-scenes poetic guide to wine (ably assisted by Stephen Payne) - though sadly, any actual wine-to-be-tasted was another absence from the Coach House. And then there was the memorable poem about woodlice to distract us (thanks, June), and some of Carrie's own, powerful poems about the effects of climate change in Illinois, from her work-in-progress, The Weather in Normal.