Fill the stage with the earth

These words by Una Chaudhuri concluded PETER REASON‘s adaptation of the Climate Lens Playbook which shaped our morning session in the Lonsdale Room.  We opened the morning with a passionate essay  by Exeter poet CHRISSY BANKS on The Place of Poetry in a Time of Catastrophe which asked

What, I wonder, is the place of poetry in maintaining some kind of hope, reason and balance in the face of a world that seems to be spinning out of control? How can we meaningfully face climate change, war and social inequality with our words?

and offered us this inspirational answer

When a poet loves the world but hates what is happening to it, writing is a way of containing the chaos experienced –  the anger, frustration, disappointment and powerlessness. Poets can wake people up as long as they can stay awake themselves.

‘Poets can wake people up as long as they can stay awake themselves’ might almost have been the theme of the whole day.  The writings we shared were so intense with energy and commitment that the meetup simply became more and more compelling as the hours went by.  AMA BOLTON has already done a brilliant post, Of Trees and Tygers and Catastrophe, on her WordPress site Barleybooks ( link here).  I won’t be trying to add to any of her detailed account, with its rich library of useful links, except to quote the post’s final words

…..but it’s time to face the apocalypse head-on and do something about it. The expression it’s not the end of the world has gained a horrible new relevance.

Moving on …..

The Climate Lens Playbook, which Peter Reason had adapted so skilfully to the short space of workshop time we had available, proved to be a wonderfully illuminating way to think about the poems which had been submitted by VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, EILEEN CAMERON and LOUISE GREEN. We will be using it again when we have our follow-up session on Saturday 20th July.  ( link here ) We will also be using the poem Rise  (link here)   which Peter introduced in the afternoon, both as an inspiration and as a model for our own work.  The link on the Barleybooks site is excellent.  Please use it if you are thinking contributing to this Day. ( I will be messaging out in more detail how to shape your contributions very soon.)

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The two authors and performers of the poem ‘Rise’

Our audience…..

What an amazing gathering! What an electrifying afternoon!  What a responsive group of friends and strangers flocked to the Elwin Room!  I counted 43, and know that a few more trickled in for SUE SIMS‘ launch.  The atmosphere was unlike any meetup I can remember and it felt from the first moment a huge privilege to be part of this remarkable event.

Afterwards, also how good to hear that someone had written in about the pleasure she took in our inclusivity – three senior poets helping FLORY WISDOM with her remarkable debut reading, the lively Bard of Bath performing alongside an eminent academic who has now completed his formal career.

Another inspiring response from another visitor new to our events :

I feel deeply that something huge is happening – as if we are all being re-arranged. That everything is going through a huge transition where things have to be undone in order that they can be recreated on an altogether different plane. And here it’s the role of the artist to enlighten our inmost thoughts – some of which, as yet, are inaccessible for very many people.

I will be writing to these new friends and asking whether they would like to send us a contribution to this post.

And here is a lovely summing up from our very own  VERONA BASS which I was so delighted to receive in my emails four days afterwards

in BRLSI on a clear bright day

we bear witness to catastrophe;

is this blue sky thinking?

 

PLEASE USE THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS DAY.

And please make sure that you are following this blog if you would like to come to more of our events.

 

Another cornucopia of good news

So much has happened for the wonderful Bath Writers & Artists since our January post. And so many good things are going to happen soon.  I’ll write up the archive first.  But please scroll down to the end of the post to see some of the events we already have in prospect – and mail in your requests to be included in the first ‘shout’ when it goes out. For any of you following this blog, who would like to join the group, we still have room this year for a few more members. Use the contact form if you want to get in touch.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Terrific final workshop in the morning, with brilliant pieces of writing brought in by SARA-JANE ARBURY, VERONA BASS, SUE CHADD, CLAIRE COLEMAN, MARILYN FRANCIS, LOUISE GREEN, MIRANDA PENDER, GRAEME RYAN, JUNE WENTLAND, SHIRLEY WRIGHT,  and EILEEN CAMERON.

New member PETER REASON joined us for the afternoon to introduce the work he plans to do with us on The Place of the Arts in a Time of Catastrophe. This produced a wonderfully lively discussion across the Elwin Room and set the mood and theme for the dedicated meetup which is going to take place at the end of  March.

We also had time to hear open mic readings from three of our 2018 subscribers who will be moving on  – SUE CHADD, LINDA SAUNDERS and SHIRLEY WRIGHT – and from four of our new 2019 subscribers – EILEEN CAMERON, PENNY GARDINER, PETER REASON and FLORY WISDOM, whose own ‘showcase’ reading has been scheduled for the end of March.

Flory with ms

Flory Wisdom Showcase 23rd March 2019

There was a bitter-sweetness about saying goodbye to such good and longstanding friends, all of whom have contributed so much to our meetups over so many years  and all of whom have such excellent reasons for being unable to sign up for another full year’s programme  of events in Bath.

Saturday 23 February 2019

This was the day for our third  ‘Homeric Afternoon’ which this time had parted company completely for a while from its original brief to read right through The Odyssey.  It had also very sadly lost its foothold in the beautiful Bradford-on-Avon garden where it started out, and had instead to snuggle itself rather tightly into the Southfield living room. ( A move much appreciated by the resident Maine Coon cat. )

Reading right through The Four Quartets was our ambition for the afternoon. We achieved this, along with lively discussion and digression quartet by quartet, but at the expense of leaving quite enough time for the delicious food which had been laid out so lovingly in the kitchen waiting for us to break.  A few of the group had to dash away hungry – something we think we may remedy at our next meeting by scheduling a ‘Homeric Late Breakfast’ instead of a ‘Homeric Afternoon.’

Many thanks for their contributions culinary, thespian and intellectual to VERONA BASS,

Dore_-_the_ice_was_all_around

The ice was all around… Gustave Doré, 1876

CLAIRE COLEMAN, ANN PRESTON, CONOR WHELAN and SHIRLEY WRIGHT. ( Also for their indulgence of the Maine Coon cat. ) It has been suggested that we might read The Ancient Mariner at our next meeting, to continue the redemptive journey theme.  If we choose this, I have suggested we might introduce a new dimension by exploring Gustave Doré’s breath-taking illustrations, many of which are now available to view online.

Incidentally……The ‘Homeric Afternoons’ are open to everyone who subscribes to the Bath Writers & Artists group – depending only on how many an offered private venue can accommodate. Please get in touch if the prospect interests you

Forthcoming Events

The 2019 programme is already richer and more varied than ever as you can march 23 poster pm pdfsee by browsing the calendar details on the header menu on the blog.  The meetup on 23rd March will be one of the most exciting we have shared, with contributions during the day from fifteen talented subscribers, some already well-established members of the group, others new.  A huge thank you to everyone involved in creating this wonderful programme: ALI BACON, VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, EILEEN CAMERON, CLAIRE COLEMAN, ANN CULLIS, PENNY GARDINER, LOUISE GREEN, MARGARET HEATH, MIRANDA PENDER, ANN PRESTON, PETER REASON, SUE SIMS, CONOR WHELAN and FLORY WISDOM. Please look at the programme Page to learn more.

and finally…..
advance notices …..

FOUR EVENTS IN PROSPECT FOR 2019/early 2020

PETER REASON will be giving a workshop on Nature Writing later in the year.

CONOR WHELAN will be giving a workshop early in 2020 under the working title  ‘Begin afresh, afresh, afresh’, borrowed from Philip Larkin’s poem The Trees.  This workshop on the theme of renewal will be Conor’s  final appearance as the Bard of Bath.

MARILYN FRANCIS & SUE BOYLE are co-organising a meetup Day on the theme of Childhood on Saturday 21st September and will be messaging out for submissions very soon.

SUE BOYLE will be offering a whole day workshop on Memory, Imagination & Dream sometime later in the year.Screenshot 2019-03-15 at 16.27.37

PLEASE REGISTER YOUR INTEREST IN ALL OR ANY OF THESE FUTURE EVENTS NOW if you would like to get on board. They are open to all members of the Bath Writers & Artists group.

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