Four Voices – Dino Mahoney, Jane McLaughlin, Colin Pink and Cherry Smyth

Well, what can I say… On May 7 at the fabulous West Greenwich Library, aided and abetted by the most generous staff (Bear, Daniel and Emma), we were thrilled, moved and entertained by four poets whose inspiration, voices and styles are so different and yet melded beautifully to create a spellbinding evening. No apologies for the superlatives! If you were part of the capacity audience, I’m sure you will agree with me. I nearly forgot to take photographs, but thankfully I did remember, though the dimmed lights didn’t help their quality (see below).

Jane McLaughlin read from her book Lockdown (Cinnamon Press), a collections of poems both flowing and incisive. In Jane’s work these two terms are never in conflict. I don’t know how she does it! Glowing with deep humanity and empathy, her poems are often inspired by her work with students, migrants and refugees.

Dino Mahoney’s poems and his words of introduction to them, made us laugh out loud, but also think and empathise and reflect. His collection, Tutti Frutti (SPM Publications) is full of personal memories and a perfectly pitched sense of time and place, which can, and does, suddenly switch to things like now and Brexit…

Colin Pink’s Acrobats of Sound (Poetry Salzburg) comes from a deep knowledge of classical art and philosophy, which he translates into verses for today, always surprising and acute. Colin also read from his just-published collection, The Ventriloquist Dummy’s Lament (Against the Grain), a book of poems accompanied by woodcuts by Daniel Goodwin.

Cherry Smyth’s Famished (Pindrop Press) is a book-length poem about the Irish Famine – bleak, raw and shocking, but also deeply musical, with more than a hint of the ballad about it and clear parallels with the plight suffered by today’s migrants. Her tour launching the book normally involves reading the entire poem, with the accompaniment of musicians. Spellbinding.

Getting ready to start…
Cherry, Dino, Jane and Colin
The attentive audience…
Jane
Dino
Colin
Cherry

 

Events

‘Proper’ summer is finally here and, while I’m reluctant to start thinking about autumn, I am inevitably and joyfully beginning to plan the first event of the ‘new term’. The first thing I did was to look back at all the in-words events from the very first one in January 2017, and I realised that over five years I hosted 49 readings, including a number of lectures by Graham Fawcett. 49! What shall I do for the 50th? I’m thinking that, although it would limit the numbers in the audience, I would really love to have an in-person event at the West Greenwich Library, like ‘in the old days’. And you never know, I may even be able to get to grips with ‘hybrid’…. Of course, it will depend of many factors, and as soon as I can, I shall post a date if not a full programme.

I love the new animation at the top of my homepage. Thanks to Paul Kley for creating it. The words on the flying page are not a quotation but a whole poem, a favourite of mine, by the Italian hermetic poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. It is impossible to translate, though countless attempts have been made. I am sure you can guess its meaning and I leave you to create your own ‘translation’ of it. Ungaretti fought in the trenches and those two lines represent a moment one morning – pared down to a sense of the absolute, maybe also of possibilities?

As we emerge from a not-yet-over pandemic and wake up every morning feeling the dread of conflict but also aware of the beauty of spring and the blessing of nature and community, Ungaretti’s words are more than ever appropriate.

I am taking a break from organising things over the summer. Whether I will be as dynamic as the train above, or I’ll take time on a siding, I’m not yet sure.

Either way, I am always happy to hear from you with thoughts and ideas, and wish to thank you for your support so far.

Be well!