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.