Monthly Meetings Are Now on Zoom

In the current situation, we can’t hold our monthly celebrations of poetry live in the Vittle and Swig, so we are holding them remotely by Zoom. An email is sent out to members with the details ahead of each meeting. The details are also added as a short post to this page of the website, usually a week or two in advance.

If you are a non-member and would like to attend, please pay £3 using the PaypPal button on the right, and email kentandsussexpoetry@gmail.com before the event, to give us your name and payment reference number. We will email you the Zoom link.

Meantime, we are also going ahead with our monthly workshops for members on the first Tuesday of each month, also by Zoom. Members interested to take part should contact Eileen Morrissey at lobbed@btinternet.com

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Kent & Sussex Poetry Society on the BBC!

A few days ago, our treasurer Phil Vernon was invited onto BBC Kent’s Dominic King Show, to talk about our Open Poetry Competition, about the Society, and about the role of poetry during these strange COVID times. If you’d like to listen, the segment is from 2 hours 11 minutes, to 2 hours 24 minutes in the BBC Sounds clip here.

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Sevenoaks Graffiti, by John Arnold

This poem by member John Arnold was selected for our 2020 Folio # 74.

Sevenoaks Graffiti

It had all gone awry…
Down the street, I stopped
to refuel and have a piss.

The graffiti above the urinal told me:
There’s nothing for you here in Sevenoaks.
Leave now!
So I took the A21,

drove south on autopilot
down the length of a late summer’s evening,
till road ran out – as always – in Hastings:

its cliffs, its flint-faced cottages,
its tubby fishing boats, its gentle sea
basked in a dwindling light.

I bought fish and chips and a Coke,
without being sneered at, shunned
or turned away;

and knew at once that somewhere
in this achingly beautiful world
was a place I would not have to leave.

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Still Life with Peaches and Avocado, by Mary Gurr

This poem by Mary Gurr was commended in our members’ competition in 2020, and published in Folio #74.

Still Life with Peaches and Avocado

In memoriam Maurice Weidman

Cross-hatching their ripeness,
dimpling the rugged pear rising
like an island, a hardened hill of lava
ominous and black amid the peachy lush.
Remembering Mr Weidman, eyes sharp
for the structure of a curve, the countless
still moments that make up a line.
            I drew him once, engrossed
in someone’s apple, picked out the light
reflected on his arm and on his brow
against the dark white studio wall in shadow,
and his face, eyes fixed forward, hand raised
in full engagement with the fruit,
in his element, harvesting.

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Home Grown

Something special to look forward to!

On January 19th. at 8 o’clock we have our annual poetry feast, celebrating 3 of our own members’ writing. It is always enjoyable to hear a selection of poems by the same writer, as it illuminates their identity as poets so much more than the single workshopped poems, and it’s great to see how some of those poems have changed since we first heard them. There will also be plenty of writing that is new to us.

This month we are inviting into our homes Marian Christie, Sonia Lawrence and Graham Mummery. The evening will be divided into halves, with each poet reading twice. What better way could there be to spend a winter night?

Happy New Year to you all.

Vita Sackville-West, our first patron.

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Poetry after Auschwitz, by Phil Vernon

This poem by our Treasurer, Phil Vernon, was awarded first prize in our members’ competition in 2019, and was published in Folio #73.

Poetry after Auschwitz
‘Poetry is pointless – like kicking a stone’ – overheard at a poetry reading

At the start and the end of this long, straight road:
a silent child, a house in flames,
a leafless tree, an empty town

He kicks a stone to watch it leap
and skitter on the flattened clay,
then slow and stall and go to ground

Along the forest edge stand those
he’s failed to save: he sings his song;
his unknown patrons hear no sound

and yet he feels their silence deep
beneath his feet, and sees beyond
the tree, the child, the house, the town

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Falafel, by Susan Wicks

This poem by Susan Wicks was commended in our members’ competition in 2020, and published in Folio #74.

Falafel

Slowly today our two paths are converging –
you with your rucksack on a Turkish bus
towards Antalya, while from our terraced house
I zigzag to our daughter’s, then to school and back
to where our grandson scoots his circuits of the grass
and backwards-climbs the slide, zip-wiring out
towards the place beyond the heavy trees
where you are getting nearer – waiting in a line
then shuffling to your seat and flying into sunset, dusk,
the dark of Sussex lanes criss-crossed by headlights –
home, and never anywhere to park. A quiet cough,
a click, a footstep on the stairs; through sleep
I’ll feel the silence change, your weight
Tipping the mattress sideways like a lurching boat.
I’ll taste the salt and smell falafel, dream
I’m in a country where we read and swim and laugh
and could be happy if our journeys were to meet.

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Midnight Mass at Orford Church, by John Wright

This seasonal poem by our member John Wright was selected for and published in Folio #74 earlier this year.

Midnight Mass at Orford Church

By candlelight
in Orford Church
you tucked
marsupially
into my Barbour
in a sling
breathing in time to
Hark the Herald
Angels Sing
shuddering a wee
and snuggling closer
to my chest
The Reverend
Winterflood
gave blessings
even to the
heathens and
touched you
on the head.
Then home we
went to mince pies, Scotch,
and a five foot,
cold feet bed.

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Turbulence, by Marian Christie

This poem by Marian Christie won third place and was published in Folio #74

Turbulence

Upstream in pools where the water barely flowed but for a gentle kissing
of the rocks, a tremor in the mirrored clouds – water transparent as air, sprung
from the mountain’s flank, too cold for bilharzia-bearing snails –
we found a duiker
its hide beginning to flake, its eyes glazed,
its legs stiff. We tensed too, my brothers and I,
in the cold shock of our discovery. I had not known
death before. Not this close. This unexplained.

The sun’s heat bounced off the rocks, drew out the fragrance of the grass. Death
did not belong here. Take its legs.
Our feet slipping on riverbed pebbles, we dragged the duiker through the pools
to where the stream began to quicken, to leap over hidden rocks,
swirl in eddies against the banks. Near the precipice
the river’s tug became too strong and we released the carcass to the current.
It floated haphazardly, tiny hooves bumping alternately
against the wavelets and the sky. We ran along the bank
to where the river abandoned all containment and hurled
down a vastness of rock. The duiker disappeared
in that foaming plunge towards the mist-green Honde valley. Above us,
white-necked ravens rode rollercoasters of air.

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Fairness, by Peppy Scott

This poem by our member Peppy Scott was placed second in the 2020 Folio competition, and published in Folio #74.

Fairness

She pondered on the mystery that made
two sisters so distinct, one from the other,
though raised in the same home, by the same mother,
to one strict set of rules. They often played
together, but their dissociated eyes
saw territory they were meant to share,
aware of being bundled as a pair,
begrudging the involuntary ties.
Wondering at this, she understood
that loving equally meant she must feed
each child according to her single need,
filtering the milk of motherhood.
Appropriately, she dispensed her care.
Each sensed discrimination, cried: ‘Unfair!’

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Orizuru, by John Arnold





This poem by John Arnold was published in #Folio 73 in 2019

 Orizuru
 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 Hundreds of them,
 maybe a thousand or more –
 perhaps as many as those rainbows
 of folder paper cranes
 trapped behind glass:

 schoolkids – eight years old or less,
 with clipboards, quizzing foreigners
 on their attitudes to war and peace.

 And my daughter and I –
 seemingly the only western faces –
 are at once surrounded.

 Hello, how are you? (stiff bows)
 What do you think about war?
         Oh, it’s bad, very bad.
 Do you think there’ll be another war?
         I hope not.
 What do you think about nuclear bombs?
         Bad, very bad.
 
Still the children come,
yet still a tiny fraction of those
who vanished in a moment
of total light that August dawn.

And still they ask the same again, again.

I want those origami birds
to fly away, to flock and circle
the skeletal remains of that dome.

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