With her gentle but economical, unsentimental and often surprising language, her humour, irony and acute power of observation (and memorable titles) Chrissie has rightly gained a high profile in the literary world, especially for her poems for children. The audience at West Greenwich Library were enchanted and entertained – and also moved when in the second half Chrissie read from her semi-autobiographical short-story collection Between Here and Knitwear about her father’s dementia. Her books were snatched up by the parents and grandparents in the audience. And if you missed out, they are available in bookshops and, of course, on Amazon. www.chrissiegittins.co.uk
A big thank you to Chrissie, the audience and, as always, to Debra and staff at the Library for making us so welcome and comfortable.
November 22, 2017
Cinnamon Press Book Launch
On Tuesday evening Jan Fortune of Cinnamon Press introduced two talented and original authors and their newly published works of fiction.
Stephanie Percival (and husband Adrian) read from The Kim’s Game. The non-linear narrative follows Hal’s life, marked by many losses – and the reading left us in suspense about his fate: will all those losses lead to some gains? How will all the ‘minor’ characters fare in later life (we got to know them so well as children…)? The Kim’s game is a memory game, where objects laid out on a tray are taken away one by one. Dark, tense, and beautifully written.
Jennifer Young read from her Cold War thriller Cold Crash in which Max, the female heroine, a marine archaeologist, becomes embroiled in a complex and dangerous espionage ‘adventure’. Even a theatre outing with her genteel parents is tinged with intrigue and suspense… Moving between London and Mull, this is a real page turner, with rigorously researched period elements giving it an authentic 1950s feel.
November 2, 2017
WH Auden with Graham Fawcett
Oh I did it again… Or rather I didn’t do it again! No photos of this exciting, stimulating and illuminating event at St Margaret’s crypt in Blackheath.
And, of course, Graham Fawcett did it again… I mean he had the large audience spellbound from beginning to end with his wit and erudition, weaving together all the facets of this twinkling, chain-smoking, complex, wordsmithing and, above all, loving poet. He conveyed the joy of hearing Auden live five times, and being so awestruck once when in a small crowd gathered Auden in a pub that later he couldn’t even remember being there, let alone what had been said.
I wish I could remember everything Graham said. After his talks I am always left with a desire to learn more. If you want to see Graham’s programme of lectures and events, go to www.grahamfawcett.co.uk
Many thanks to Guy, Jenny and Cilla from St Margaret’s church for all their help.
October 11, 2017
Poems and Pictures
Two years ago almost to the day, Gill Stoker of the Mary Evans Picture Library in Blackheath had the brilliant idea of combining her love of the spoken word with the fascinating collection of images stored at the Library. With the help of local poets Mick Delap and Lorraine Mariner she began to invite other local poets to submit poems inspired by or seeming to illustrate one or more images from the Library. The ‘Poems and Pictures’ blog was born, and in two years it has attracted poets from all over the world and more and more poems are being posted on it, all of fantastic quality. Its second birthday was definitely something worth celebrating.
The evening was a wonderful mixture of voices and styles and the projected images were intriguing, funny, surprising… and so much more. The central rotunda of West Greenwich Library was full beyond capacity, with many extra chairs being carted in by the ever-helpful staff to accommodate everyone. Those who took part were: Mick Delap (who also MCd), Harvey Duke (read by Gill Stoker), Ken Evans (read by Mick Delap), Robin Houghton, Sarah Lawson, Lorraine Mariner, Gabriel Moreno (with and without guitar..), Emma Simon, Fiona Sinclair (read by Gill Stoker), Peter Wallis, Richard Westcott and Sarah Westcott. Poets also chose and read works by others, which they selected out of the hundred plus poems on the blog.
I think the blog’s third birthday will call for another celebration, so watch this space!
Gill Stoker introducing the work of the Mary Evans Picture Library to the packed audience
Visit http://www.maryevans.com/poetryblog.php for the entire collection of poems and related pictures.
September 30, 2017
What better way to celebrate National Poetry day (September 28) than to listen to five talented, amazing and entertaining poets published by Cinnamon Press (cinnamonpress.com). Alex Josephy, Louise Warren, Jeremy Worman, Tamsin Hopkins and Jane McLaughlin (left to right in the photographs) read from their books and pamphlets, taking us to real, surreal and often unexpected worlds and bringing people, creatures and memories to life through their unique voices. THANK YOU poets, publishers, audience and West Greenwich Library staff, as always.
August 2, 2017
Tiger and Clay – book launch from Istanbul
Last night was a first for in-words, the audience and the wonderful West Greenwich Library and its staff: on a clear skype connection, author Rana Abdulfattah read four extracts form her book of memoir and poetry as her London launch. Her publisher, Camilla Reeve from Palewell Press, co-hosted the event in the central rotunda filled to capacity. There was also a small photographic exhibition by Rayan Azhari and a great meze spread by the Damascus Chef, as well as a presentation by the Chief Executive of the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network.
Rana lives in Istanbul after leaving her native Syria. Her writing is a moving mixture of nostalgia, sorrow, hope and positive determination. The book is available on Amazon and from Palewell Press http://palewellpress.co.uk/Palewell-Publications.html
July 27, 2017
DH Lawrence, Poet – with Graham Fawcett
I was so lost in the beauty of Graham’s and Lawrence’s words (it’s often hard to spot the boundary between Graham’s own words and the poems he reads…) and the lovely stillness of St Margaret’s Crypt, that I forgot all about modern technology and didn’t take any pictures… I’ll try to remember next time, on November 1st when the mood will change with the poetry of WH Auden.
I will also try to make online booking easier – apologies to those who found it difficult and unsatisfactory (irritating? infuriating?)
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July 12, 2017
4 x 4 Poetry Group
What do you do when you find a stash of old photos showing your long-gone parents? Or when you think about the allure of the opposite sex? Or when you look at a double-headed knave of hearts on a playing card? Well, you sit down and start writing poetry of course! The double-headed knave inspired Peter Wallis to think and write about his relationship with his twin brother; Graham High was inspired by his own charcoal life drawings and the graphic patterns found in physics and…fishnet stockings; Wendy Klein and Sally Festing wrote about their fathers, memory and the complex relationships of earlier generations – sometimes known and sometimes guessed.
Wendy’s husband Stephen provided the technical support to project on a screen the photographs and images connected with each poem and sometimes accompanied by music and singing (by Sally). The audience was totally involved, and part of the second set was devoted to questions and discussions, so lively because the poems, while intimate and personal, touched on themes we all share.
June 7, 2017
Not the General Election
A.E.Houseman said “The business of poetry is to harmonise the sadness of the universe”. Particularly poignant at this moment in London, we had a fabulous, varied evening of poetry and some prose at West Greenwich Library on the theme of politics, democracy etc.. It didn’t only harmonise the sadness of the universe, but also the joy, humour and humanity of the universe.
We were treated by Mick Delap, Fiona Moore (reading in the photograph), Jazzman John Clarke, Lorraine Mariner, Sarah Westcott and NJ Hynes to serious and satirical works – their own and by other poets and writers from all over the world and eras (Amichai, Frost, Hardy, Angelou…). Two poems by Kate Foley and one by Carl Griffin were read by Mick. There were contributions through open mic, including extracts from the diary of suffragette Marion Wallace Dunlop, who went on hunger strike and refused force-feeding, and was eventually released; we heard how Plato predicted that we would eventually be ruled by bullies and many other thought-/laughter-/tears-provoking pieces of writing.
Thank you to all those who read and all those who attended and who continue to support in-words and local talent.
May 12, 2017
Graham Fawcett on Edward Thomas
May 11th at The Prince of Greenwich pub.
As always, Graham delivered something that is so much more than a lecture. The audience was spellbound listening to how Thomas’ tormented life unfolded, and how he blossomed out of ‘melancholia’ once he allowed himself to be uncompromisingly a poet. So sad and such a terrible waste then that he should be killed in April 1917 just before the ‘real action’ started on the battlefield…
Another unforgettable evening. Watch this space for an autumn lecture/performance!
Tuesday January 16 at 7 for 7.30 West Greenwich Library, Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN
Bright Scarf Poets – Quentin Chowdry, Dominic James, Rosie Johnston and Peter Pagnall
Quentin Chowdry’s poems have appeared recently in Obsessed with Pipework and The French Literary Review. For Quentin, poetry often feels like a lifeline, a means of connecting with a deeper self whose frontier is constantly threatened by the demands of family and work. A former career journalist who was a staffer, successively, on The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Telegraph and The Times before switching into corporate communications and headhunting. Currently working up his first collection, Quentin has been with Bright Scarf since its first, strangely beautiful upwelling.
Dominic James attends poetry meetings up and down the M4 corridor. A fan of Lowell and Blake, he has been widely published by, among others, Poetry Pulse, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Cannon’s Mouth, Indigo Dreams and Kudzu Review. His first collection Pilgrim Station was published last year by the Sentinel Poetry Group www.djamespoetic.blogspot.co.uk.
Rosie Johnston‘s three poetry books, published by Lapwing Publications in Belfast, are Sweet Seventeens (2010), Orion (2012) and Bittersweet Seventeens (2014). Her poetry has appeared or featured in Ink Sweat & Tears, Hedgerow, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour and The Honest Ulsterman. She was commissioned to take part in Live Canon’s ‘154 Project’ (2016) celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in Greenwich and beyond and, though she has lived in Greenwich and Island Gardens for over 30 years, has been poet in residence for the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust since 2014. She also reviews poetry for London Grip. https://rosiejohnstonwrites.com/
‘Crazy melancholy’, ‘warmth, wit and tacit joy’: just two of the remarks made about Bright Scarf, Love and Fear, Peter Pegnall’s sixth volume of poems published by Lapwing in Belfast. Peter explores and delivers poetry in seafront cafes, hillside graveyards, snazzy galleries, care homes and drafty churches. He has worked for universities, the Arts Council, the BBC and for schools of all shapes and sizes. His prose includes poetry reviews for Poetry Ireland and Fortnight, obituaries for The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, theatre reviews for The Catholic Herald and The London Magazine and articles for e-magazine. He is a handful. And they love him in Norfolk, Portugal, the Dordogne and Belfast.