What a way to end our year!

There were fifty people in the Elwin Room when we counted at 3pm – FIFTY people on the day Bath Christmas Markets opened, on the day of the Artisan Fair outside the window in Queen Square, on a day when most sensible people –  unless they wanted to go Christmas shopping – might well have avoided Bath.  We had a marvellously engaged and responsive audience, made specially lively by the colourful contingent who came to hear Larkhall star, artist JUDE WISDOM answer questions about her work.  This followed a powerpoint presentation of selected pieces to accompany ANN PRESTON’S eloquent Appreciation, which we might be permitted later to include in the blog.

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One of Jude Wisdom’s artworks included in the show

The Realms of Gold concert was also mesmerising with some of our finest readers and most admired poets delivering a powerful programme of prose and poetry.  We all love drama, except perhaps an organiser waiting at 1.55pm for the arrival of  the always reliable CONOR WHELAN who had promised to open at 2.00pm with a recital of Kubla Khan from memory.  The piece really mattered to establishing the meetup theme.  Only the wonderful talent and good temper of STEPHANIE BOXALL saved us from listening vainly to the silence of the void.  Hers was a marvellously sensitive and compelling reading and it gave our afternoon a flying  (albeit for this organiser a nailbiting)  start.

The shared tea was unusually spectacular.  Many thanks to VERONA BASS for taking charge of managing the tables, to all the generous providers, and especially to FLORY WISDOM who had been baking for us for days. FLORY will be presenting her poems for the first time on March 23rd next year, our youngest contributor so far and also definitely one of our culinary stars.  It was quite difficult to coax the audience away from the food and each other’s company and back to their seats for The Letters from Mexico .  

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One of the slides for The Letters from Mexico with grateful thanks to Frederick Lord Leighton and Henri ‘Le Douanier’ Rousseau

This must surely have been one of the most delightful launches, for an author, that anyone could have had. Other than the little pieces of linking narrative, all I had to do was listen, enchanted, as friend after friend delivered my sonnets better than the author could have done, while PETE SMITH serenely showed the slides.  The Letters from Mexico has now, under GRAEME RYAN’S excellent direction in Taunton,  been a costumed play; had a formal launch at the excellent Teignmouth Festival of Poetry; an outing to the Beaufort Bookshop with audience spilling out on to the pavement and the glorious accompaniment of an overhead thunderstorm; and now presented itself in Queen Square, to a wonderful audience who had travelled, among other places, from Dublin, Exeter, Reading and Appledore.

Many thanks to all the writers and artists who played a part in this excellent afternoon: VERONA BASS, CHRISSY BANKS, AMA BOLTON, STEPHANIE BOXALL, CLAIRE COLEMAN, CLAIRE DYER, NIKKI KENNA, ANDREW LAWRENCE, MIRANDA PENDER, ANN PRESTON, GRAEME RYAN, LINDA SAUNDERS, SUE SIMS, PETE SMITH, CONOR WHELAN ( much better late than never ) and SHIRLEY WRIGHT

Many thanks, too, to the people who provided such a wonderfully supportive audience, among whom were CAROLE CATLING, B&NES Senior Arts Development Officer ANN CULLIS, poet MARILYN FRANCIS , botanical artist CAROLINE FRANCES-KING, Walcot State Choir’s BRIAN GOODSELL, singer CAROLINE KAY-MOUAT, poet MERETTA HART, Secure Broadcast CEO HELEN LENNON, SIMON LENNON, writer and teacher MICHAEL LOVEDAY, poet PAT MILLNER, artist MARK PENDER, author PETER REASON, writer and publisher TESSA STRICKLAND, JILL SWALE, writer JUNE WENTLAND, DAISY WISDOM and  LUTHER WISDOM, all of whose presence was such a pleasure and such a joy.

The next scheduled appearance of The Letters from Mexico will be at The Swan Hotel in Bradford-on-Avon on Thursday 26th September 2019.

The next fully programmed meeting of Bath Writers & Artists group will be in the BRLSI on Saturday 23rd March 2019.  The day is already rich in themes and interest. Please visit the programme Page to see the details if you would like to play a part in this.

 

sue boyle / organiser bath writers & artists group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not like clockwork, thankfully!

Yesterday afternoon’s meetup went precisely to plan, thanks to the hard work, talent and unfailing good temper of all participants.  We even had time in hand for a longer than expected Question and Answer session with the four aspiring novelists – SUE BOYLE, LOUISE GREEN, MIRANDA PENDER and JUNE WENTLAND – and to extend the discussion very happily to embrace the audience.  It was a terrific asset to have NIKKI KENNA on hand to manage this.

But like clockwork it was not!  For a start, there was such variety of mood and pace in the programme, from the beautifully considered commissioned pieces in Writing Home – from AMA BOLTON, MARGARET HEATH, MICHAEL LOVEDAY, SUE SIMS, CONOR WHELAN  and SHIRLEY WRIGHT to the rousing exuberance of Sam Hinton’s Amphioxus Song, so ably lead by our two singers, working together for the first time. ( How nice it would be if this was not their last tandem appearance on our stage. )

We also had four solo songs in the programme, two each from MIRANDA PENDER and ANDREW LAWRENCE, Miranda with her own rivetting compositions, Andrew treating us to powerfully persuasive performances of Britten’s setting of Down by the Salley Gardens and to a second hearing of Patrick Kavanagh’s Raglan Road. There will be another chance to hear Miranda on Saturday 24 November when she will be contributing her own settings of four of the sonnets from The Letters from Mexico. ( Link to invite here. )

MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S launch reading was excellently designed to showcase his book Three Men on the Edge while supporting the two themes of the day – Home and Wilderness – with an arresting presentation of the idea of Edgelands, beautifully illustrated by his own suite of photographic slides. Thanks to Michael, there was a coherence and common energy running through the whole programme which hugely strengthened the impact of the afternoon.

The concert of readings, Writing the Wilderness, was eloquently and professionally  performed by the six group members, working together so smoothly it is almost impossible to believe that nothing in meetup presentations has ever been rehearsed.  Everything has to happen for the first time – necessarily,  when perfomers are gathering from so far afield.  Yesterday readers came from Sherborne, Beaminster, Bristol, Corsham, Wells and Stoke St Michael, in addition to those who simply dropped in from Bath.  When things work well, this creates a lovely sense of invention and spontaneity which seem now a really important part of the successes of these Queen Square afternoons.

The Writing the Wilderness concert has now been posted on the blog, in full, with pointers to the sources of the readings for people who want to follow up on leads.  We are also inviting SUBMISSIONS for a future meetup on the theme of Wild Places, to shape into a new concert for one of the early meetups of 2019.  To remain true to yesterday’s meetup, whose title was The Poetry of Prose, all submissions for this should come in as prose, please,  though nothing would prevent them appearing elsewhere as poetry. Please read the blog ‘concert’ before you submit.  You will see that the pieces need not be fully developed. They can have the characteristics of extracts and should not exceed 200 words, though you can obviously submit more than one.

As well as the concert and the reading list, I have included the three wilderness slides which we shared yesterday, and which may well prompt pieces of writing for this new set.

The Morning Workshop also featured prose.  We are all busy now sorting and sifting our thoughts on the sixteen fascinatingly varied submissions. Ama, Sue Sims and I have already posted our personal lists. I will be collating the others as they come in and eventually sharing an overview of workshop members’ thoughts.  ( Contributions written by members of the group will be handled VERY tactfully throughout, and not identified nor identifiable unless the author wants to declare themselves.)  It would, though, be very good to share the extracts from published novels with the blog.  Most of you already have these in Word Docs, so I would be hugely grateful if you would mail them through with title and author when you can find the time.

I will soon preface the Poetry of Prose collection with a few of the ideas about good prose which surfaced yesterday.  Here is the slide about how easy it is to write.  Which by the way is NOT by Ernest Hemingway.  Fake News didn’t start with Donald Trump. ( link to workshop page here)

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Many thanks as always to yesterday’s brilliant contributors and to our generous, kindly and responsive audience.

sue boyle
sunday 7 october 2018

Season of mists …..

and certainly fruitfulness for the wonderful Bath Writers & Artists Group!

The October meetup is fully programmed now and we are looking forward to another excellent afternoon on 6th October with seasoned performers and new friends. The full programme details are now on the 6th October Page. ( Please click link.)

Remarkable to realise that our four 2018 meetups will soon have hosted SIX launch readings – MICHAEL LOVEDAY’S launch on Saturday is following in the dazzling footsteps of books by SUE SIMS’ son, DR MARK SIMS, poet novelists CLAIRE DYER and SHIRLEY WRIGHT and pamphlet poets ANN PRESTON and VERONA BASS.

Spurred on by their examples, perhaps, four hopeful first-time novelists will be appearing on Saturday, talking about their projects and inviting questions from the audience. This will be Bath Writers & Artists’ first Q&A session and I am very grateful to poet-artist NIKKI KENNA for offering to manage it with KINDNESS, FAIRNESS and FEROCITY.

The October meetup is also hosting some remarkable specially written contributions on the theme of home and a powerful concert of readings from major writers on the theme of wilderness, compiled from pieces submitted by members of the group.

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Chaqmaqtin photo by Matthieu Paley

NEWS

I am delighted to be showcasing CAROLINE FRANCES-KING’S forthcoming talk at the BRLSI on the evening before our meetup.  (You can read much fuller details on her Page.) I am hoping to persuade Caroline to present some of her work to us in a future meetup – with November in mind because her botanical adventures would team up so eloquently with the presentation of The Letters from Mexico – whose artist, JUDE WISDOM has already agreed to answer questions about her work , following an appreciation generously written for the November afternoon by ANN PRESTON, author of  A North East Light. 

I am delighted, too, that Bath Writers & Artists may soon have a visit from PETER REASON, who is proposing to help design a hugely  important day for us next year inspired by the question from the great poet Mahmoud Darwish. ( For ‘poetry’, of course, we will be also reading ‘art’.)

WHAT CAN POETRY SAY IN A TIME OF CATASTROPHE?

 

THIS IS WHAT PETER WRITES ABOUT HIS MOST RECENT BOOK

To recover from ecological disaster, we humans must transform our sense of who we are in relation to the Earth. In Search of Grace is the story of an ecological pilgrimage in my small yacht, Coral, from the south coast of England round the west coast of Ireland to the far north of Scotland. It explores themes of pilgrimage: the overall pattern of separation from the everyday, venturing forth, and returning home. It tells of meeting wildlife, visiting sacred places, confronting danger, expanding and deepening experience of time, of silence, of fragility

AND HERE IS ONE OF THE REVIEWS

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Peter Reason

In his years at the University of Bath, Peter Reason rose to prominance as a brave pioneer of Action Research–a participative approach to scholarly and whole life inquiry, that refuted narrow reductionism. Now, in this meditatively written and rich interwoven account, he takes his inquiry futher. Sailing his boat around the seas of Celtic lands, he gains insights into these our troubled times, as glimpsed through the cracks of a deeper grace belonging to this planet Earth. Alastair McIntosh, author of Poacher’s Pilgrimage: An Island Journey

 

FINALLY 

A huge welcome to this blog to the members of Moor Poets who came to the Sharing Our Bright Fields workshop in Devon on 14th September and are now allowing me to see some of the marvellous poems they began that day.  Such good writers, devoting themselves to such a good topic, with prompts from such masters of the craft…. it is a real privilege to invite them to join our blog and – perhaps – one day, to join us not just in virtual but in ‘real’ reality.

sue boyle 30 september 2018