‘Windows’

On Thanksgiving evening, we had the pleasure of listening to the four very different voices of Konstandinos Mahoney, Maggie Butt, David Cooke and Isabel Bermudez. The title was a kind of unifier, but as often happens, a theme or two emerged from the reading and the introductions to each poem, which were powerful and moving and totally topical: one was the plight of the people who flee the horrors of war in their countries, only to find horrors of other kinds in the countries where they are hoping to find refuge. Even the lighter touch in the sketch of Konstandinos’ eccentric Aunt Alice and her thesp-like antics was tinged with sadness and the memory of the flight from a burning Smyrna. Maggie’s everlove was inspired by heartbreaking photographs of migrants by American photographer Mary Behrens (we watched a brief video of some of them, with voiceover by Behrens herself). The construction of her poems and words, sometimes amalgams of words, themselves mirroring doubt, fear, urgency. Maggie manages to be tender and brutally unsentimental at the same time. David took us on a journey in which we had to adjust to different scales, from ants to elephants, and then led us back to the most familiar of landscapes, a back garden. Isabel gave us glimpses of Colombia (but also of England) – powerfully evoking situations, places and people with the precision of her words, never in excess, always exact and essential. Again, a strong theme was that of being ‘foreign’, of belonging and yet not belonging. The second theme was nature, and the threat to it through climate change, present in the poems by all the wonderful readers.

But don’t just rely on my words…do buy the books and see for yourselves!

If you want to buy signed copies, it’s probably easier if you email me irena@in-words.co.uk and I can pass the request on to the poet/s in question, who can then get in touch with you.

For unsigned copies:

For Konstandinos Mahoney’s Tutti Frutti https://spmpublications.com/shop/tutti-frutti-konstandinos-mahoney.html

For Maggie Butt’s everlove https://www.maggiebutt.co.uk

For David Cooke’s Sicilian Elephants https://tworiverspress.com

For Isabel Bermudez’s Serenade www.paekakarikipress.com

Some comments from poet Jane McLaughlin: […] the excellent quality of the readings – these poets understood so well how to engage their audience and read with sensitivity, clarity and drama. […] Another theme is that of love, especially in the first section.  With Bermudez and Mahoney the love of a country, culture, family shines through.

‘Grasp what it is that makes of love

a weed so ordinary and rare’ (Bermudez in “Cow Parsley”)

David Cooke’s sharp and precisely honed poems convey a love for the strangeness and diversity of the world and its history. Maggie Butt captures the love of the refugee woman for her child.

While Zoom loses some of the personal connection of an in-person event it also has some features that the ‘in real life’ does not provide so easily: we could see examples of Isabel Bermudez’ exquisite textile art and the poignant images of exile and displacement preceding Maggie Butt’s poems on refugees.

Thank you Jane.

Events

Tuesday March 5 at West Greenwich Library, 7-8.30pm

The Birth of a Book: Shakespeare in an Age of Anxiety plus A Taste of 154 – readings of some of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, and modern responses to them

Local author and scholar Neville Grant will talk about the writing of his new book, Shakespeare in an Age of Anxiety (Greenwich Exchange, 2023), about what inspired him to delve into this well-explored subject and to succeed in finding a plethora of unknown, intriguing (and some amusing) facts about the Bard, and many parallels with goings on in the 21st Century.

154 is a poetry collection published by Live Canon. Each one of 154 modern poets was asked to respond to one of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets (not counting the ones inside his plays). We shall hear some of these inspired pairings, by and with Nick Eisen, Gillie Robic, Lorraine Mariner, NJ Hynes, Rosie Johnston and Doreen Hinchliffe.

Unmissable….

Free as always, with plenty of refreshments – and food for thought!

Neville Grant, best known locally as former editor of the Westcombe News, is a professional author who has published many textbooks on language and literature used in countries around the world. His  latest book, Shakespeare in an Age  of Anxiety (Greenwich Exchange 2023), written for the general reader, celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio – the collection of his plays published seven years after his death. The book looks at how a grammar school boy made it in London’s theatreland, how he survived Tudor politics, and gives an appreciation of each of his works in the order in which they were written, so one can trace his development as a writer.