Night Watched

I told myself I must avoid using words such as ‘stellar’, ‘out of this world’ etc. when describing the readers at this zoom event on January 19th and their work. But there are other superlatives I could use for Graham High, NJ Hynes and Oliver Morton – members of the large audience suggested several in their complimentary emails following the readings…

Graham’s first reading was from a series of poems both disturbing and beautiful – about loss of direction, failure to preserve the planet we have and the (doomed?) search for personal and collective meaning and a route to a safe place. They mirrored, as someone pointed out, the plight of migrants on earth, turning dystopia topical.

Graham’s second set included three poems on 18c Astronomers Royal, Edmund Halley, James Bradley and Nathaniel Bliss. A very different mood – witty and irreverent. Unfortunately, neither collection is available in print, the first out of print and the second not yet published.

NJ Hynes’ poetry is word perfect, giving expression to every emotion with wit, irony and tenderness, always finding an unexpected but completely ‘spot-on’ way to describe both personal and collective experiences. So, as always when listening to or reading her poems, we were moved deepy, entertained greatly and impressed immensely! And she left us with questions about how the moon feels about its role, and about us…

Oliver Morton’s latest book The Moon: A History for the Future, which was serialised on R4 in 2019 shortly after its publication, contains not only scientific details and amazion photographs, but also Oliver’s original musings and statements linking science and art and culture in general. The images he chose to share with us were stunning and interesting, from the rather ‘retro’ picture of people waiting for the launch of Apollo 8, to images of the launch itself, to the views from the lunar module (with transcript of some of the conversations among the astronauts), culminating with the undoctored image of Earth Rising, in which the Earth, partly in shade, is reclining off centre and the moon surface is also at an angle. This image, more than the better-known symmetrical composition, showed the immediacy and awe of that sight.

At a time when we are shut indoors for so much of the time, and, when outside, we are often looking down, trying to avoid (as NJ said) discarded masks, or look straight ahead trying to decide whether we or others should step aside and keep out of the way, spending an evening thinking about the magical vast space around and above us, was, at least for me, like therapy!

Events

Monday 8 November at 7.30pm on Zoom

Private 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.

Thursday 25 November at 7.30 on Zoom

WINDOWS‘ – An evening of poetry with Isabel Bermudez, Maggie Butt, David Cooke and Dino Mahoney.

Why ‘Windows’? Because for an hour or so, we will have the privilege of looking through different windows at views and images, places and atmospheres presented to us by four very different voices. But also to honour The High Window, the online poetry magazine edited by David Cooke.

This is a free event by invitation. Please email irena@in-words.co.uk to receive a zoom link nearer the time.

ISABEL BERMUDEZ is a poet and textile artist living in Orpington, Kent. Her most recent publication is Serenade (Paekakariki Press, 2020), poems evoking Spain and the New World,  with illustrations by Simon Turvey. She performs her poetry widely at readings and festivals and was recently hosted by the Colombian Embassy and the Instituto Cervantes, Manchester in conversation with Welsh poet and translator, Richard Gwyn. In a previous life she lived and worked as a producer/director in television in Sri Lanka and as a documentary filmmaker in Colombia. She has held many jobs, including grape picker in France, shop assistant and special correspondent, and for the past fifteen years has taught French and Spanish privately. More at www.isabel-bermudez.com.

MAGGIE BUTT is a journalist and BBC documentary producer, turned poet and novelist. Her sixth full collection everlove was published by The London Magazine Editions in April 2021 and her novel The Prisoner’s Wife was published around the world in 2020 by Penguin Random House under her maiden name Maggie Brookes. Her poetry appears widely in international magazines and anthologies, and has escaped the page into a mobile phone app, choreography, BBC Radio 4, readings, film-poems and festivals. She has judged a number of international poetry competitions and taught creative writing at Middlesex University for 30 years.

DAVID COOKE was born in Wokingham, although his family comes from the West of Ireland. While still an undergraduate, he won a Gregory Award and since then his poems and reviews have appeared in many journals in the UK, Ireland and beyond: Agenda, Ambit, The Cortland Review, The Interpreter’s House, The Irish Times, The London Magazine, Magma, The Manhattan Review, The Morning Star, The North, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Stand. He has also published eight collections, the latest of which is Sicilian Elephants (Two Rivers Press. 2021).He is the founder and editor of the online poetry journal The High Window.

KONSTANDINOS (DINO) MAHONEY is a London based poet of Greek-Irish-English heritage. He won the 2017 Poetry Society Stanza Competition with his poem, ‘Dr Mirabilis and the Brass Wall That Will Save England,’ which is included in Tutti Frutti, his debut SPM collection.  He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and has poems published in: The High Window, London GripButcher’s Dog, Perverse, Tentacular, Live Canon Anthologies, New European. He performs his poems as songs with Dino & the Diamonds, and teaches creative writing at Hong Kong University.  More info at dinomahoney.co.uk