HEAD LINES October 8

To mark Mental health Awareness Week and to honour everyone who has suffered or is still suffering mental anguish – and indeed those who care or have cared for them, in-words invited four superb and very different poets to read at the lovely West Greenwich Library.

Mick Delap started us off with readings from Gerard Manley Hopkins, mapping his descent into the gloomiest of depressions, and brought the evening to a close with his latest poem – a moving, heartfelt reaching out to those who think differently about certain issues (I let you guess which ones) – and the sadness at being spurned, at the unwillingness to bridge the gap.

Tessa Foley read from her published collection, Chalet Between Thick Ears (Live Canon) and from her more recent poems and her ‘work in progress’. Raw, funny and moving, Tessa’s words go way beyond ‘standard’ feminist poetry. They are a mirror of the dilemmas and struggles that young women face, bold statements alternating with lines of disappointment, confusion, anger and great courage.

Peter Wallis is a twin. As his twin brother, a young man at the time, underwent a long series of brain operations, Peter started undergoing a process of ‘untwinning’ as he witnessed his brother’s physical illness and analysed his own parallel mental turmoil caused by it. His verses, with their almost obsessive rhythm and medical connotations, perfectly portrayed the brothers’ closeness, their despair and hope and the sense of loss that was never far away. Peter’s experience of hospital waiting rooms led him to start and edit the free pamphlets ‘Poetry in the Waiting Room’.

Sally Festing is the daughter of Derek Richter, the founder of the Mental Health Foundation. Derek’s two siblings, very artistic young people, and his own mother suffered from serious depression – something they could only express, in those days, as ‘being unwell’. Treatment was brutal and Derek had the courage and the drive to work towards a better awareness of mental ill health and better treatment for it. Sally worked on the vast archive of letters and documents inherited from her father, some of which she put into verse, coupled with her own words, put at times into her ancestors’ mouths, creating her latest published collection, Darling Derry.

The whole evening was riveting and I know it will stay with me for a long time. If you wish to donate to the two chosen charities, please go to www.mentalhealth.org.uk and www.thecalmzone.net (or in particular www.justgiving.com/fundraising/daniel-hill52

Thank you

Events

February 4

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

UNIVERSITY POETRY CHALLENGE
Blake Morrison and Cherry Smyth will introduce students from Goldsmiths and University of Greenwich respectively to showcase their poetry-writing skills. With the participation of poet Sascha Akhtar.

Door opens at 6.30 for a 6.45 start. All welcome.

February 25

West Greenwich Library,
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

WRITING DOWN DEEP
Jan Fortune of Cinnamon Press will launch her own book, Writing Down Deep, grown from her blog on writing. Not a how-to, but a volume rich with ideas, exercises and reflections.

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

March 10 – POSTPONED UNTIL SEPTEMBER

Graham Fawcett‘s lecture/performance on American poet Elizabeth Bishop.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) is not widely known in this country. Unaccountably so, given her profound and varied output, her literary prizes and her interesting life.

But for a true insight and some wonderful readings, do come to Graham’s talk with the wonderful Sue Aldred as second reading voice. Plenty of time to whet your appetite by reading up on Bishop…

Venue to be confirmed.

March 24

West Greenwich Library,
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

Two poets bringing their voices from further afield: Omar Sabbath – British Lebanese living in Dubai, and Edward Ragg, who lives in China.

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

April 28

West Greenwich Library,
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

TWO GIRLS AND A BEEHIVE
Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell will launch Two Girls and a Beehive, their collaborative collection of poems, due to be published by Two Rivers Press (Reading) earlier that month. The poems follow the life and explore much of the work of visionary artist Stanley Spencer, as well as giving voice to his complex personal life and the relative invisibility of artist Hilda Carline, his first wife.

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

May 12

West Greenwich Library,
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

Readings by the wonderful Chrissie Gittins and Wendy French

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

June 23

West Greenwich Library,
146 Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8NN

NIGHT WATCHED
Celebrating the Solstice with Graham High‘s poetic look at the Astronomers Royal, plus other poets bringing us their take on the night skies…

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome