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

Thursday 20 January at 7.30 on Zoom

tall-lighthouse redux

tall-lighthouse celebrates its return to publishing poetry pamphlets by introducing poets Christopher Horton, Joshua Calladine-Jones, Mark Wynne and Sarah Shapiro.

After the High Window, it’s the turn of tall-lighthouse, in its own words ‘still publishing bloody good poetry‘. Here is some initial information about the publisher and the event:
tall-lighthouse is a Lewisham based poetry press and its current list includes poets from the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA Canada and Europe.
The reading will have an international flavour as Sarah is based in Boston (USA) and Joshua in Prague.

tall-lighthouse has a reputation for publishing new talent, being the first in the UK to publish Helen Mort, Sarah Howe, Liz Berry, Adam O’Riordan, Rhian Edwards, Emily Berry, Kate Potts and many others. Many poets published by tall-lighthouse have gone on to full collections with
major poetry publishers in the UK. These include Sarah Howe, winner of the TSEliot prize in 2015 with her Chatto&Windus collection Loop of Jade; Helen Mort whose debut full collection Division Street (Chatto&Windus) was shortlisted for the TSEliot prize as was Ailbhe Darcy with her collection Insistence (Bloodaxe). Similarly Jay Bernard and Vidyan Ravinthiran
were both shortlisted for the 2020 TSEliot prize. Other tall-lighthouse poets have also been awarded important prizes.

I hope you can join us for this reading, which, as usual, is free by invitation. For a zoom link, please email irena@in-words.co.uk

And here are the detail about the poets who will read on the night:

Joshua Calladine-Jones was born in Greater Manchester, England. He is the literary-critic-in-residence for Prague Writers’ Festival, and his work has appeared in a number of journals, including Freedom, The Stinging Fly, 3:AM, The Gravity of The Thing and Literární.cz. Constructions [Konstrukce] is Joshua’s debut pamphlet.
Discarding the dirty undergarments of English, Joshua Calladine-Jones offers a new taste: “Continuous like stars falling, flies in a glass of milk.” A slippery diving board for the undercurrents of language in a New Stone Age. Michael March

Christopher Horton studied English Literature and American Studies at University of Wales, Swansea, and subsequently taught in China before working as a Housing Officer and then as a Town Planner. His poems have appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Ambit, Iota, Magma . He has been a prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition, the South Downs Poetry Festival Poetry Prize and The Bridport Prize. Observing an urban world, human and animal – these poems pleasingly mark in word-music the juncture between the said and the unsaid. Gillian Clarke

Sarah Shapiro lives and works in Boston USA. Her poetry is widely published in magazines and on-line, and her debut pamphlet The Bullshit Cosmos was published by ignitionpress.
In this compelling pamphlet, Shapiro speaks back to the impersonal language of diagnostic evaluations as a ‘girl [once] silenced’ – by juxtaposing text taken from her own medical report with creative responses she illustrates the brilliance of her own mind. Mary Jean Chan

Mark Wynne lives in Bath. His poetry has been published in Magma, South Bank Poetry, The Moth and Ambit. Frank & Stella is his debut pamphlet.
Compassionate, humane, and austerely generous Mark Wynne’s poems are finely tuned machines. John Clegg
Reading these poems has been an emotional and intriguing experience […. ]. Frank & Stella is a wonderful addition to my shelves. Congratulations to Mark for such powerful and moving work. Angela Williams