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Family, Animals and Other Things – Zoom reading on June 24

For former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, a poem is ‘a flashlight, an instrument of discovery’. I don’t think this can be surpassed as the most perfect concise definition of poetry.

Sarah Westcott, Gordon Meade, Gillie Robic and Neetha Kunaratnam confirmed this definition last night with verses that shone a light on and helped us discover many different ‘elsewheres’ – some painfully real, like the moment a cancer diagnosis is received; or when a parent is desperately worried about a child’s health; or when one witnesses a parent’s sickness or when caged animals are given a voice. Others almost mythical, where one flies again with an injured bird, watches hawks, listens to ‘the old man by the sea’ or floats out to the ocean without flipflops through a flooded London… And others again, where you’re taken for a literal ride with family members to times and a society so different that it feels like watching a Hollywood movie.

Beautiful voices and not only in the poetic sense. Sarah, Gordon, Gillie and Neetha have beautiful reading voices and I could have listened to them for a lot longer. Comments from the audience expressed the same. If you enjoyed the evening, or if you didn’t make it and would like to read their work, here are some links:

You can order Sarah’s books from the publisher https://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/

Gordon’s Zoospeak is published by Enthusiastic Press.

Gillie’s books are published by Live Canon https.//www.livecanon.co.uk/store

Neetha’s collection Just Because is published by Smokestack Books.

‘One Year On’

March 25th

If you wanted to look for a mirror of all the different emotions, the heartaches, fears, fury, disbelief, warmth, solidarity, nostalgia and love experienced these last twelve months, you needn’t have looked further than the words written and read so beautifully by Rosie Johnston, Alex Josephy, Colin Pink, Jacqueline Saphra and Rob Walton.

Voices and styles so different and so complementary, painting what we have gone through so far in the pandemic with an astonishingly varied palette – confirming that we would be so much worse off without poetry!

If anyone who was part of the large audience attending on the 25th is reading this and wishes to send me (irena@in-words.co.uk) comments on, even a short review of, all or part of the evening, please come forward, don’t be shy! I am so involved in the whole event that it takes me a while to put finger to keyboard and write anything sensible….

In the meanwhile, here are the short biographies of the readers, and information on how to get in touch with them and/or purchase their publications.

Rosie Johnston‘s four poetry books are published by Lapwing Publications in her native Belfast, most recently Six-Count Jive in 2019, a description in 17-syllable stanzas of the inner landscape of post-traumatic stress disorder. Last December top Irish poetry blogger Billy Mills chose it as one of his top three Irish poetry books of 2020.  Rosie’s poems have appeared or featured in the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour, The Honest Ulsterman, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Hedgerow. Anthologies include Live Canon’s ‘154 Project: In Response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ (2016), Her Other Language published by Arlen House in 2020 and the Northern Irish section of Places of Poetry (OneWorld, 2020). Before being distracted by poetry, Rosie had two novels published, in London and Dublin. For this event read the first fiction she has written in over ten years. You can find her and her books online at www.rosiejohnstonwrites.com

Alex Josephy lives in London and Italy. Her collection Naked Since Faversham was published by Pindrop Press in 2020 (http://www.pindroppress.com). Other work includes White Roads, poems set in Italy (Paekakariki Press, 2018, https://www.paekakarikipress.com), and Other Blackbirds (Cinnamon Press, 2016, https://www.cinnamonpress.com). Her poems have won the McLellan and Battered Moons prizes, and have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and Italy. As part of the Poetry School Mixed Borders scheme, she has been poet-in-residence at Rainham Hall, Essex, and in Markham Square, London.  Find out more on her website: www.alexjosephy.net. Her books can be ordered from the publishers, or for signed copies email Alex on alex@alexjosephy.net.

Colin Pink’s poems and fiction have appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and anthologies. His first book of poems, Acrobats of Sound, was published in 2016 (by Poetry Salzburg Press) and The Ventriloquist Dummy’s Lament, a pamphlet of 21 villanelles, with woodcuts by Daniel Goodwin, was published in 2019 (by Against the Grain Press). He is having two new collections published this year: Wreck of the Jeanne Gougy another pamphlet published by Paekakariki with woodcut illustrations by Daniel Goodwin and Typicity, his second full-length collection, to be published by Dempsey and Windle in April. You can obtain copies of his books directly from Colin by emailing him on colinpinkconsulting@gmail.com or order them from the publisher’s websites. Visit Colin’s Facebook page to see announcements: https://www.facebook.com/colin.pink.37/

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011) was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014) won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press 2017) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. Two of her sonnet sequences A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller (2017) and Veritas: Poems After Artemisia (2020) are published by Hercules Editions. Her third collection, Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019. She read from her latest book, One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets, published in February 2021 by Nine Arches Press. She is a founder member of Poets for the Planet, lives in London and teaches at The Poetry School.

Scunthorpe-born Rob Walton lives in Whitley Bay.  His poetry has been published by The Emma Press, Strix, The Interpreter’s House, Sidekick Books, Frances Lincoln, Macmillan and others.  His works of fiction have been published in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand.  Arachne Press has just published his debut poetry collection, This Poem Here, with a launch the night before our reading! He collated the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text.  You can follow him on Twitter: @anicelad. 

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.