All the Way Home

On April 9 we had the pleasure of hosting (at West Greenwich Library) award-winning Irish poet Jane Clarke reading from All the Way Home, her sequence of twenty-one poems responding to one family’s experience of WW1, hot off the press (Smith Doorstop). And what a treat it was!

The backstory: Gill Stoker of the Mary Evans Picture Library (Blackheath), having received a vast archive of letters, drawings, documents and photographs relating to the Auerbach family from Patricia Aubrey (niece of the ‘protagonists’ of this pamphlet) had asked Jane if she could write something in response to it. Jane was awarded a literary bursary form the Arts Council of Ireland, which allowed her to spend eighteen months researching and writing. We were privileged to hear the result just days after publication and the Dublin launch, and before next week’s Manchester launch. Almost by chance, Jane had met Blake Morrison in Dublin late last year, and he agreed to introduce her works on the night, reading two beautiful poems from her previous book (River, Bloodaxe 2015) and from the one due out later in the year, also from Bloodaxe.

The emotional landscape of war for those at the Front and at home is illustrated by Jane’s sequence and the poignant photographs accompanying it. And ‘landscape’ is the key word here, because as Jane explained, the natural world offered her a way in, becoming a unique facilitator with its gift for metaphor and beauty, the everyday and the extraordinary, for echoing losses and the small joys one can experience even in the midst of a catastrophe.

For a ‘proper’ review, do read The Yorkshire Times

Photographs by Paul Brown (Mary Evans Picture Library)

Blake Morrison introducing Jane Clarke (left), with Patricia Aubrey
Gill Stoker and Patricia Aubrey giving the background to the book project
Jane Clarke introducing her pamphlet, in the background one of the photographs from the Auerbach archive
Jane and captive audience in the beautiful Library rotunda

 

Events

Summer is finally here and being outside (even better if in good company, now it is possible…) on warmer, long evenings is much healthier than spending them on Zoom. So I’m putting poetry events on ‘pause’ for a little while. It doesn’t mean that thinking, planning and organising are also put on ‘pause’. In fact I’m in contact with the wonderful West Greenwich Library to see whether live events will be possible again in the autumn, even with social distancing still in place. I have no intention of abandoning Zoom, but alternating virtual and in-person readings will be good, and I hope many of you will continue to participate with the enthusiasm for the spoken word you have shown, and for which I thank you.

So, have a healthy, creative and happy summer, and do keep an eye on this website and on your inbox for news…

Monday 8 November at 7.30pm on Zoom

Memorial Event: ‘A Celebration of the Life and Work of Richard Stoker (1938-2021), British composer’

Many of you will have attended past in-words events held in cooperation with Gill Stoker. I am deeply touched that she has asked me to host a memorial event to remember and celebrate her husband Richard on what would have been his next birthday.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stoker

This event is by invitation only.
If you knew Richard, or know his music, and would like to attend, please email gillstoker@btinternet.com for further details.