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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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?
This poem by Susan Wicks was commended in our members’ competition in 2020, and published in Folio #74.
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.
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.
This poem by Marian Christie won third place and was published in Folio #74
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.
This poem by our member Peppy Scott was placed second in the 2020 Folio competition, and published in Folio #74.
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!’
This poem by John Arnold was published in #Folio 73 in 2019OrizuruHiroshima 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.