Tag Archives: Dawn Gorman

Poetry news from Words and Ears

By Dawn Gorman

How appropriate for a Words & Ears falling on a hot, hot evening that we should find ourselves among Liz Watts’ Beached imaginings, and cooled, in the imagination if not literally, by the water-and-shady-woods imagery from Elephant’s Footprint films. That, though, was just the start of things at the Swan last week. The one-off collaboration between sculptor and film-makers produced something quite ‘other’ for the senses – the gorgeous synergies of those skies, wavelets and woods flitting and flickering over Liz’s work, the plinths and the walls, (clouds beneath sea shells and sea women – a poem in itself) created what felt like a brand new, three-dimensional, multi-layered art form. There was something mesmeric and soothing about the readings, too – Chaucer Cameron’s poems were all the more powerful for their uncomplicated delivery, without preamble. ‘Water seeps into our land’, she said, and so the theme settled with us all – Liz let the whales and blue fin tuna swim free, while in the open mic, Pey was ‘as indivisible as water’, Paul gave us George Mackay Brown’s ‘dreaming plankton’, and with Peter is was possible to ‘catch fish with our eyes’. In the second half, we were treated to a curation of rich and gentle poetry films by Helen Dewbery, showing something of what is possible with this delicious form. Jodie Hollander maintained the mood with a powerful but lilting reading from her new collection My Dark Horses and, among many wonderful poems in the second open mic, we were treated to a reading of Rosie’s poem The Heaven That Runs Through Everything, which recently won the Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition.

Coming up this month there are two Words & Ears events – we are Live! At the Old Road Tavern In Chippenham on Saturday 24th June as part of ChippFest, with open mic plus guest poets Crysse Morrison, Moira Andrew, Ruth Marden, Partrick Osada, Peter Wyton and Maggie Harris (£3 on the door) – please visit www.chippfest.org for more details of this brilliant arts and music festival.

Then we are back at the Swan on Thursday 29th June for a three-woman poet night with Kate Noakes, Beatrice Garland and Lisa Brockwell, plus, of course, open mic (£4 on the door – with more poets’ expenses to cover, there’s a teeny price increase this time).

You can find more information on Dawn Gorman’s website http://www.dawngorman.co.uk/words_and_ears_info.php


Poetry news from Dawn Gorman

When Liz Watts suggested I ran an edition of Words & Ears within her ceramics installation Beached at Greenhill Cottage Gallery, I immediately said yes, because the gallery is such a wonderful space and because Liz’s work is stunning. But I didn’t anticipate it working quite so well as our Easter Monday event. That was down to a combination of things – Liz’s inspired staging of her award-winning, sea-themed ceramics; guest poet Rebecca Gethin’s superb, salt-tanged sets, which took us to Zennor and Co Donegal, into the company of turnstones, mermaids and whales and to the dark side of the lighthouse; and to the enthusiasm of the audience and open mic contributors, who really entered into the spirit of things with some great sea poems. Lovely to see new faces, Words & Ears regulars and old poetry friends – Lesley Saunders, Ruth Sharman, Paul Brokensha, Chaucer Cameron, Tom, Sue and Iris Anne Lewis among others. My thanks to gallery owner Martyn Slade, to Liz and her family, and, poignantly, to Mary, Martyn’s partner, who, after last year’s event at the gallery with Cristina Newton said to me ‘we must do another one of these soon’. Sadly, Mary passed away at the end of the summer; for me, the evening was a fitting honouring of her enthusiasm and support.

The next Words & Ears takes us back to The Swan in Bradford on Avon next Thursday, April 27th, for a really exciting line up – guest poets Susan Utting and Rishi Dastidar, plus guest MC Sam Loveless. Susan’s latest collection, Half the Human Race: New & Selected Poems was published just last month. About her work, Moniza Alvi says: “Poets are often praised for knowing what to leave out. Susan Utting knows what to leave in. Ordinary things gain an almost hallucinatory vividness in her richly textured poems. Utting animates life’s brittle edges and her poems carry unforced emotional weight.”

Rishi Dastidar’s first full collection, Ticker-tape, was also published last month. About it, Daljit Nagra says: “These poems are perfected eccentricities who dance through the techno world. Urban wit rubs alongside innovative love poetry. Dastidar is at home “forglopned”, in his “blipverts”, on the way to Stavanger without a signal, enjoying a ‘Potluck Kinfolk style’ or selling love at the Tsukiji fish market. Wherever he is, whatever he’s up to, I declare Dastidar to be one of the most ingenious, modern, thrilling, hilarious and tender poets writing today.”

You don’t need me to tell you that this combination makes for a stunning evening’s poetry… Bring your own, too – open mic contributions always welcome.

How a Poem Becomes a Symphony

From the left: composer Dan Thomason, OAE clarinetist Katherine Spencer, and me, discussing how Replenishment might be interpreted musically for a digital overture.

by Dawn Gorman

Poetry belongs in the community: that’s my starting point as a working poet. Let people have it and do with it what they will. So it was a great pleasure to help put that into practice in Wiltshire last year, alongside one of the world’s most distinctive orchestras, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE).

This ground-breaking ensemble, which plays on instruments from bygone eras, regularly brings its innovative Watercycle project – an orchestral journey through the urban landscapes of England – to the Wiltshire Music Centre (WMC) in Bradford on Avon, and last year drew in both Wiltshire children and adults to create a unique concerto for the county.

Excitingly for me, the concerto was based on my poem Replenishment, which won a competition calling for poems on the theme of the local significance of water, run by the WMC. And as if that wasn’t enough, I also worked with sound technician and composer Dan Thomason from the WMC, and OAE clarinetist Katherine Spencer, to create a digital overture for the concerto, complete with a film poem, shot by Oliver Brown.

Inevitably, all this called for masses of collaborative work, which began with members of the public recording individual lines of my poem in a special booth at the WMC, to be jigsawed together for the overture. The way total strangers threw themselves into this activity was both surprising and humbling. The poem had grown out of a solitary walk alongside the river and canal in Bradford on Avon in that slightly deflated, just-after-Christmas vacuum, and, ultimately, draws on the essence of the water to offer a fresh surge of energy. The richly-textured chorus of local voices which Dan assembled from the recordings made me feel as though my local community was giving me the gift of my own poem, living and breathing. Very moving.

Dan, Katherine and I subsequently talked through how my ideas in the poem might be interpreted musically, and, in deconstructing my own work, it was clear that the poem wasn’t simply about a walk – it was also a journey from bleakness to hope.

Meanwhile, I was collaborating with the OAE, the award-winning composer James Redwood, and 240 pupils from various primary and secondary schools in Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon to conjure up the concerto itself. The students produced some phenomenally creative, insightful work, and I was unfailing impressed by the musicians’ rapport with them. The secondary students worked with James on ideas based on Replenishment to produce a tone poem that the younger children could sing. Again, it was a profound experience hearing my words in that new, rich context. The scope of Watercycle is ambitious, covering everything from the evaporation-condensation-precipitation cycle, to awareness about the charity WaterAid – http://www.wateraid.org/uk

The newly-composed music was premiered at the WMC in April last year and included the OAE and all the students involved. The overture film poem, which on the night featured live clarinet from Katherine alongside the digital score and the film, was subsequently chosen for screening at various film festivals, including the Cannes Short Film Festival 2015. You can watch it here https://vimeo.com/135481910 . The poem itself is on my website, www.dawngorman.co.uk

Huge thanks to the OAE, James Redwood, Dan Thomason, Oliver Brown, the WMC and the people of Bradford on Avon for the opportunity to be involved in such a brilliant collaborative project.