Shakespeare night at West Greenwich Library

It’s taken me longer than usual to get down to updating this site with an entry about Tuesday’s event. Various reasons for this – life, sorting things in the house and in my head, lingering glow after that terrific evening, thinking how lucky I am to have the opportunity to learn so much while being entertained, responding to many kind and enthusiastic messages from audience and performers alike. Anyway, here I am now, with a non-review of the event, only a short account of it and its two halves.

Difficult to put into words the depth of knowledge, the ease of delivery, the interesting facts, the amazing connections that Neville Grant gifted us in his illustrated talk about his book Shakespeare in an Age of Anxiety (Greenwich Exchange 2023) – covering, of course, history, religion, politics, romance and literature in a seamless and totally engaging way, with wit and scholarship, holding the large audience spellbound. If you missed the session, or regret not buying the book at the time, go to https://greenex.co.uk

Equally hard to put into words the creative, poetic skills of the six wordsmiths who concocted a unique buzz during the second half. Poets Nick Eisen, Doreen Hinchliffe, NJ Hynes, Rosie Johnston, Lorraine Mariner and Gillie Robic read from 154, a Live Canon publication where each of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets bears a response from 154 different contemporary poets. The six poets above are all part of that tremendous project, and read (and explained) with wit, reverence and irreverence, both the original sonnet ‘allocated’ to them and their own responses. The irreverence continued, in the most respectful sense, of course, in the following section, when the poets read/performed another piece, still with a connection to a Shakespearean work or work by a previous artist or poet. Their diverse choices and voices were stunning and highly entertaining – disguising the depth of their knowledge and the hard hard work that goes into making and sharing poetry.

To buy 154 and poetry by NJ Hynes and Gillie Robic, go to www.livecanon.co.uk

For works by the other poets, please google them or check their publishers in the biographies below.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all who spoke and all who attended and, as always, to Debra and Em at the Library for all their generous help.

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 theatre-land, 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.

Nick Eisen is a writer and performer whose spoken word, poetry and plays have appeared at venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, the late, great Man In The Moon Theatre, Riverside Studios and Chocolate Poetry. His more recent spoken word performances and collaborations have been for Wansdworth’s contribution to the London Design Festival, Wandsworth’s Arts Fringe, London Metropolitan University and Arcus Pride in Canary Wharf and other venues.

Originally from Yorkshire, Doreen Hinchliffe is a retired teacher who has lived in London for many years. Her poems have appeared in a wide variety of poetry anthologies and magazines, and her sonnet sequence, The Pointing Star, was recorded by Live Canon on their Poems for Christmas CD in 2011.To date, she has published three poetry collections – Dark Italics (Indigo Dreams, 2017) Substantial Ghosts (Oversteps Books, 2020) and Marginalia (Stairwell Books, 2023). Her first novel, Sarabande in Blue, was recently published by Blossom Spring Publishing.

NJ Hynes is a South London based poet who enjoys flamenco, piano playing and climbing every hill in Greenwich Park. Her latest pamphlet Tracking Light, Stacking Time, was published by Live Canon in 2023 and launched at the Royal Observatory. Her collection The Department of Emotional Projections won Live Canon’s inaugural First Collection competitionIn between, she’s been longlisted, shortlisted and commended in numerous competitions, and in 2019 she won the Battered Moons poetry competition. In the same year a poem commissioned for the launch of Maritime Radio Greenwich resulted in an award-winning broadcast. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post as well as in literary journals, train stations, art galleries and Soho shop fronts. She is currently working on poems inspired by a month-long residency in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Rosie Johnston’s writing spans journalism, drama, fiction and poetry, with novels published in Dublin and London and four books of poetry by Lapwing Publications in her native Belfast. Her most recent, Six-Count Jive (Lapwing, 2019), describes the inner landscape of her complex post-traumatic stress disorder and led to readings at Glasgow and Vigo universities and inclusion in Her Other Language (Arlen House, 2020). Rosie’s poetry also appears in the Northern Irish section of Places of Poetry (OneWorld, 2020), the Mary Evans Poems and Pictures blog and various magazines. Her first venture back into fiction in ten years, Laughing and Grief, was published in American Writers Review. Her fifth book of poetry, Safe Ground, will be published by Mica Press early next year. Rosie reviews poetry for London Grip and is a generous and inspirational teacher and mentor. rosiejohnstonwrites.com

Lorraine Mariner lives in Greenwich and works at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. She has published two collections with Picador, Furniture (2009) and There Will Be No More Nonsense (2014) and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize twice, for Best Single Poem and Best First Collection, and for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize. Her most recent publication is the poetry chapbook, Anchorage with Grey Suit Editions (2020). She edits regularly for Candlestick Press: Ten Poems About Libraries has just been published, following on from Ten Poems About Friendship, Ten Poems About Love and Ten Poems About Tea.

Gillie Robic was born in India, a place that remains her abiding passion. She is a puppeteer and her voice is used in film, theatre and television. Gillie’s poetry collections, Swimming Through Marble, Lightfalls, and her latest, I think I could be wrong, are all published by Live Canon, as is her pamphlet Open Skies, written and published in aid of Ukraine.

Events

Dear poetry friends,

As summer approaches, unpredictable and full of surprises as the best verses, I will continue to plan future events – but don’t expect any to happen before September.

I wish you a happy, healthy time, the right amount of sunshine and better world news…

Don’t forget in-words, you’ll hear from me again before too long.

Irena