Saucy stamp licking for poets

By Dawn Gorman

It was a packed and dynamic evening last Thursday at Words & Ears, when Susan Utting and Rishi Dastidar took up the guest poet challenge, both reading from their brand new collections, Half the Human Race and Ticker-tape. Huge thanks to them, and to guest MC Sam Loveless, who had things masterfully under control in his lovely relaxed and entertaining way. The first half was, everyone was quick to tell me in the interval, ‘absolutely brilliant’ (really sorry I missed that); in the second, I particularly loved hearing an example of one of Rishi’s deconstructed sonnets, and can’t quite forget the poem that likened having sex with him to licking stamps: posting a letter will never feel quite the same again… Susan intrigued us by opening a window in a painting and, while telling us she was ‘Too Old to Die Young’, seduced us all with a deliciously split apricot…

Thanks as always to those who came to read and to listen, who included Pey Oh Colborne (with a poem from her excellent series about her family – loved the rats that ‘shiver through the bandaged shadows’), Sue Boyle (with a gorgeous extract from her novel-in-progress), Stephen Payne, Josephine Corcoran, Linda Saunders, Lesley Saunders, Frances-Anne King (with an intriguing poem from her sequence about the head, performed in two voices with Lesley), Rachael Clyne, Jinny Fisher, Liz Watts, Dru Marland, Ruth Sharman, John Ellison Kitching, Paul Brokensha, Luke Palmer, Hattie Parker, Francis Deas, Rosie Jackson, Brian Reid, Tom and many others…

So, we’re going to follow that, on Thursday May 25th, with an exciting one-night-only film-poem-and-sculpture collaboration between Elephant’s Footprint (aka Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery) and award-winning sculptor Liz Watts. This will feature a unique screening of UK and international poetry films within a mini installation of Liz’s work. Chaucer will read work from Elephant’s Footprint film collections on the theme of waterscapes and landscapes, to echo Liz’s current artwork from her installation Beached, Liz herself will read some of her work, and, as I’ve been collaborating with her on the Beached project for the past 18 months, I will read a few of my poetry responses from that, too. Open mic contributions, particularly on those waterscape and landscape themes, are hugely welcome.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be the chance to catch a reading by US poet Jodie Hollander, who is in on tour on the UK and has fitted us into her busy schedule. Her full collection, My Dark Horses, is published by Liverpool University Press.

Incidentally, Liz’s time on the beach at Greenhill Cottage Gallery in Southwick, near Trowbridge, BA14 9PR, has been extended by popular demand, so you can catch the Beached installation on May 12, 1-8pm, May 13, 11-7, and May 14 & 15, 11-6. Complimentary evening drinks on the Friday and Saturday, and tea on Sunday afternoon!

I’m really looking forward to all this – hope to see you there (buckets and spades optional, but do bring your poems!).

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