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Poetry Worth Hearing: Episode 22

This episode features Cahal Dallat, poet, critic and musician, talking about W.B.Yeats in his capacity as founder-organiser of the WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project. Cahal also read some of his own poems from his recent collection, Beautiful Lofty Things. In keeping with Cahal's talk, the theme for this episode was 'after' - in the sense of 'influence' or temporally, or anything else poets took it to be. So we have poems from Lyn Thornton, Helen Overell, Matt Bryden, Trisha Broomfield, Stephen Paul Wren, Diana Bell, Heather Moulson, Simon Rees and Dinah Livingstone.






Born in Ballycastle, County Antrim, poet, musician and critic Cahal Dallat lives in London where he is founder/organiser of the WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review . Winner of both Strokestown International and Keats-Shelley poetry prizes, also 2017 Charles Causley Centenary Artist-in-Residence (Launceston, Cornwall), 2018 Research Fellow at Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas (Austin TX), and 2019 joint Writer-in-Residence (with Anne-Marie Fyfe) at Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory NC). Latest collection, Beautiful Lofty Things (Salmon Poetry, Ennistymon, 2022). www.cahaldallat.com www.wbyeatsbedfordpark.com  Cahal teaches a popular email/online creative-and-critical poetry masterclass now in its sixteenth season, for London's Coffee-House Poetry  www.coffeehousepoetry.org



 



Lyn Thornton


Fellini’s Roma


Listen

above the hiss of a steam train

above the thunderous sheeting of rain

above the late-night clatter of trains

above the wailing of car horns on the autostrada

above the barking of dogs songs of street singers


I am the city you yearned for

the city you think you have found in the fountains

in the brothels in the wide piazzas in the streets

in the ghost-life of subterranean frescos

in the dissolute soldiery in Caesar’s broken statue


in the bird’s eye view


from your gantry swooping like an eagle through

wind and rain in the long shots. the close ups. the granite

faces the butchered animal carcasses sliding

across a frame. the Cardinal’s circus (hell by any other name)


you think you have caught me


but listen

above the cacophony. the bewildered faces

the carved imagery you will find only a shape-shifter. a dream

you have created. and it has many names




An Awkward Bow


to try to catch your voice seems an

impertinence instead


I’ll stand and listen, block out all

traffic noise, and hope to hear its

echo on a lifting wind or summon up

the sprite of you running through


The Vale of Health or bounding up

Holly Hill to watch the sunset

reflected in the White Stone Pond or

over the heath to the Spaniards’ Inn

letting your thoughts drift to Naples’

heat and headiness, a whole two years

away from you taking


an awkward bow


leaving us, (as you thought then), only

the shadow of your hand reflected

on uncertain tides



The quote an awkward bow is taken from Keats’ last letter, addressed to Charles Armitage Brown, Rome, November 30th 1820



The space between


after William Kentridge’s Slade Lecture


A blank page / where is the edge ? / a world reduced to paint/

leaves leaning on air / we are collage under construction/

we need to remember / we desire to forget / city of gold

panned for/broken fingers brush away dust / we are in the land

-scape and we are out of it/ the old Gods have retired/weigh

all tears / my heart is in hiding/ there is pleasure in self deception/

the pleasure of one thing becoming another / let us leap and then

look




Lyn Thornton lives in Oxford. She is a poet and Univ. Tutor in English.  Her collection of poems, The Tyring House, was published by Poets House Press in 2022.  She is currently working on a second collection and writing a play about Shakespeare’s time in London living with a Huguenot family in Cripplegate.  The play is scheduled for performance

iin November of this year.








Helen Overell



Approaching retirement

for ML


Chest pains niggled her but she'd work to do –

all those troubled teenagers to encourage,

mothers to offer hope to, fathers to support –



and the gathering mattered, thinking of ways

forward, standing alongside, each one offering

the best they could, long days full of meetings,



the party well-earned – Spanish guitar, castanets,

dancing flamenco despite being more solid oak

than willow – and that was when flame took hold,



not one to fuss, not wanting to, she kept going,

no-one realised, and then sitting down helped,

so everything was fine really – but not;


next day, the locum, unhurried, calm, kind,

wrote a letter for her to take to A&E – that place

the self-harmers washed up at, her face fell,


she'd spent hours there calming families, offering

care, building bridges although time stood still,

and so Do I have to? – getting there another story –


instant attention, questions, tests, being stranded

flat-out on a trolley so high above the ground

she dared not move, angiogram, transfer to London,


one cannula, another that somehow broke free –

rainbow arc of thinned blood that filled the air,

doused floor, blankets, walls, deep and weary


peace, no fear whatever, calm, So this is death?

being rescued, cleaned up – meeting the man

from Dublin, from back home, whose way of talk,


so in keeping with her own, brought comfort,

who was of like mind, understood humour,

whose angioplasty mended her heart, put right


the damage, left nothing but the merest scar,

gave her years yet, nothing wrong with her at all

after that, life as usual and yet not the same.



Helen Overell has work in several magazines and some of her poems were highly commended or placed in competitions including the Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2018 and the Poetry News Members' poems Summer 2020. Her first collection Inscapes & Horizons was published by St Albert's Press in 2008 and her second collection Thumbprints was published by Oversteps in 2015. A booklet of her poems Measures for lute was published by The Lute Society in 2020. She takes an active role in Mole Valley Poets, a Poetry Society Stanza group.



Matt Bryden


 

Haunts

 

 

You have adopted

magical thinking

 

a ring about your neck

lifted to your lips

 

and kissed

 

the chain smoothed

of snags and kinks

 

 

You gesture to the aspen

the sound of leaves in the wind

 

 

In a playground

 

a stone’s throw

from the bedroom

 

you are living out of

 

your three-year-old says

she wants to stay the night with you

 

you nearly fall to your knees.


 

 

 

This is a poem which collides my daughter’s second birthday lunch with descriptions of Odysseus’s home in Ithaka in the Odyssey.

 

Birthday, Shoreditch White

 

 

In the café where we celebrated your second,

you ate an Indian chicken salad and sipped juice

as we supported you on a silver-studded chair.

There was a silver lintel, a golden handle

and dogs made out of gold and silver

on each side, fashioned by Hephaestus.

It being morning, the waitress ran a hand

down her spine to wake the dragon, stepped

from foot to foot as she took your order:

white-armed mother holding white-armed daughter.

 

It was the day after my birthday, so hospitality

was not as rust. And was it Athena lent us a pink mist

so there was depth to the pile, shade to the plush?

We stopped by a fishmonger’s, samphire spread on ice,

took home a bass for later with butter and pepper

that life might leave us only when we had once more

seen our property, our people, our great high-roofed house. 

 

 

   

 

Trial

 

 

It’s like you are dead

and I’m in a house of invalids

 

voices come through the walls

scared something will crack

 

five weeks since we’ve talked

stray cats at the glass

 

I am bounced out of my senses

kettled in a tennis court

 

I miss my friend her smile

as fire doors click shut

 

who’s to say why

I’m not eating or drinking

 

whether you carry the end

of this process inside you                    

 

 


 

 

 

This poem links two scenes – post- and pre-bout – in Martin Scorsese’s celebrated 1980 biopic of Jake LaMotta.

 

 Boxer

                        

The scene in Raging Bull, tender hands

milling the ice, cubes half-melted

to a solution, his looping knuckles swollen

of definition by his landed blows, the camera

now fast now slowing mid-swoop casts

 

us back pre-fight as Vickie kisses                                                

his bruised stomach and sprawls upon the bed,

then walks towards the bathroom door;                                               

a jostle of ice cubes as he tips

the jug down the front of his shorts.




Matt Bryden is a teacher living in Devon with his daughter. He has published a pamphlet Night Porter (Templar), about life in a Yorkshire hotel, a first collection Boxing the Compass (also Templar) and a book of translations, The Desire to SIng after Sunset (Showwe). His most recent work is The Glassblower's House (Live Canon, 2023) an examination of fatherhood against a backdrop of personal catastrophe.

 

His work has appeared in Poetry IrelandPoetry Wales and Modern Poetry in Translation and he has won the Templar pamphlet and collection prize, the William Soutar Prize, the Charroux Memoir Prize and the Live Canon Pamphlet Prize. In 2019 he won a Literature Matters award from the Royal Society of Literature. He is Royal Literary Fellow at Exeter University. 



Trisha Broomfield


Role Models

 

Oh, Mary Tyler-Moore

those legs, always in black,

kicking back at the stereotypical housewife

the polo neck sweaters, I still choose to wear,

and that hair, I loved it all.

You were in control, wiping the occasional womanly tear,

beating your Dick Van Dyke husband at pool.

You moved with such grace

and you had a waist.

Your face, when it smiled, lit up the room.

 

Cathy Gale, you followed

leather clad, on a black and white screen.

You joined John Steed in the fight

against evil, appearing, self assured,

in series two, when Steed switched to Saville Row suits.

Just as I had decided you were the one

you left in nineteen sixty four

becoming Pussy Galore.

You still fought your corner

but you’d lost out to James Bond.

 

Emma Peel, you were next

you’d steal the show from Steed

despite his suave smile

his bowler hat, in seasonal shades.

From you, the villains would run a mile

your high-kicking catsuit spinning them across the room

knocking out chairs and china with such ease.

And you had a waist!

One day a husband returned to claim you

and Steed looked wistful, but not for long.



A Thief of Words

 

I prised open Hardy’s poem

released his ‘strings of broken liars’,

inspired I lied, owned them, wrote them

to you, never to be sent,

after the event.

I scan my pages and find that scribes of ages have

leant me their colour,

and when I read, dames, in the best sense,

have bequeathed me

the flavour of their rounded sound,

reminding me that consonants abound

and urging me to finish my words

not swallow the hollow Lincolnshire Wolds

that underpin my voice.

I have a choice but like a sponge I absorb,

my listening ear grabs hungrily at any accent I hear,

Eastenders beating elocution hands down.




Trisha Broomfield writes poems and short stories. She has three pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and poems published in many anthologies and online poetry magazines, including the Lancaster One Minute Monologues.

She is one third of The Booming Lovelies who will be appearing at this year ‘s Cranleigh Literary Festival on April 3rd and the Guildford Institute on May 13th, where the tickets include afternoon tea. There will be a souvenir pamphlet for sale Meet the Booming Lovelies.

As a member of Cranleigh Writers’ Group she has contributed to an anthology of their work, From the Crane’s Mouth, out in time for the above Literary Festival and her own book, My Acrostic Mother, illustrated by fellow ‘Lovely’ Heather Moulson, is also due out soon.

Her poem ‘It’s only Maths, was featured on BBC Upload in January.

She recently appeared with fellow Booming Lovelies at The Spice of Life pub in Soho as part of the Poems Not Bombs monthly open mic.

You can hear more of her poems on the Poetry Worth Hearing poetry podcast and on BBC Upload.

See more on Instagram @magentapink22

                            @boominglovelies

FaceBook Trisha Broomfield Poetry

 



Stephen Paul Wren

You can find the text of Stephen's abecedarian poem at https://stephenpaulwren.wixsite.com/luke12poetry/post/penrose





Dr Stephen Paul Wren studied at Cambridge (Corpus Christi College) and worked in industry for many years. He transitioned back into academiaat Oxford (St Hilda’s College) before joining Kingston University in2018 where he works as a Senior lecturer in pharmaceutical chemistry.Stephen's poetry can be read atwww.stephenpaulwren.wixsite.com/luke12poetry and you can find him onTwitter @Stephen34343631. His book ‘Formulations’ (co-written with DrMiranda Lynn Barnes) was published by Small Press in 2022. His book 'Acelestial crown of Sonnets' (co-written with Dr Sam Illingworth) waspublished by Penteract Press in 2021. Also, Stephen's poetry hasappeared in places such as 14 magazine, Marble Broadsheet,Consilience, Green Ink Poetry, Tears in the Fence, Fragmented Voices, and Dreich magazine.

Stephen's Facebook group Molecules Unlimited is growing quickly 

and its fifth online meeting took place in November 2023. The winners from

its 1st poetry competition were announced recently.


Diana Bell


Level 4


Lift going up, please mind the door

door closing – door opening

 

Here we are, each with our own story

our own pain – mother and daughter

husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend,

a lone person in a wheelchair.

We sit in rows silently suspended

between present and future,

sipping water, reading a book,

checking mobile phone, drinking coffee.

Sunlight slides through blinds

and draws white lines on the floor.

A name is called like a lottery number -

the next person disappears behind a blue curtain

a life changed every hour, every day,

while the sandwich trolley goes round

and a cleaner mops the floor.

 

Lift going down, please mind the door,

door closing….




Diana Bell is a multi-media visual artist including sculpture, installation and painting. She has won awards for her sculpture and for her work in hospitals. She has always written poetry and worked with poets, but did not try to get any of her work published until joining Oxford Stanza Two. 


 Heather Moulson


Under the Influence 

 

I can’t drive because I’m under the influence

of You

The Emotional Police will stop me 

I was warned you may cause drowsiness 

And to give operation of heavy machinery a wide berth

 

But you’re under my skin and other features

You’ve crayoned me in in a different colour 

And I’m aware I’m just another figure on your sketchpad 

Shaded in for fun, an eraser on standby 

 

Love Anonymous washed their hands of me 

Written off as a hopeless case 

I may have to go as high as the Ministry of Love 

 According to George Orwell, they’re big on influences 

 


Beryl The Peril 

 

Oh lovely Beryl the Peril. 

Running away from Policemen

and your slipper wielding Dad,

puffing in his permanent striped suit.

You always outsmarted 

Cynthia and her pals. 

Biting my nails that you would 

run out of adventures,

but there you were, 

Every Tuesday, freshly drawn

with another ruse. 

I coveted plaits like yours, 

and longed to look that good 

in a gym-slip.

Why couldn’t you have lived 

round our way?

You would have come home for tea, 

we’d fire peashooters 

and say words like ‘sooper’. 

Blissfully, you never had 

Sleepovers. 

I think that would have been 

too much. 

 


Heather Moulson co-founded Poetry Performance in Teddington in 2017 and has been writing poetry ever since.  She has performed extensively in London, particularly Celine’s Salon and Soho Poets.  Her debut pamphlet Bunty, I Miss You was published in 2019. Heather won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Award in 2020. 

Heather also writes reviews and runs a website www.heathermoulsonpoet.com.


Simon Rees


Fingernails

For Louise



As a boarding school boy

he chewed them to the quick

and worried at the skin 


Always after, he bit them neat

for grooming

or hurt them for solace 


In his fifties he found a therapist -

within two years he bought 

nail clippers


It began with an acquaintance mentioning poetry for catharsis, leading to a deeply cathartic poem falling out of Simon’s pen. His writing quickly spread to dogs, beds and other subjects. With four poems published, Simon is now working towards his first collection. Simon is from Wales and lives in Dublin with his wife and a houseful of writer’s block distractions.


Dinah Livingstone


After All

 

When I wake up the rain is pouring down

from a louring sky.

I am depressed, I cower in bed,

don’t want to face the day.

I force myself to shower,

get dressed,

not feeling well.

 

Suddenly the sun comes out

and everything has been refreshed,

sparkles much more kindly than before.

Now like the clouds my gloom evaporates

and I am fine again.

I realise the rain was right

and was a proper blessing after all.




Dinah Livingstone has given many poetry readings in London, throughout Britain and abroad. She has received three Arts Council Writer’s Awards for her poetry, which has also appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Her tenth collection, Embodiment, was published in 2019. She is a translator of poetry and prose and edits the magazine Sofia. katabasis.co.uk/dinah.html

 The Proper Blessing by A.C. Jacobs, the Scottish- Jewish poet, d.1994, is published by Menard Press.


That concludes this episode. Please listen to the podcast at https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/kathleen-mcphilemy/episodes/Poetry-Worth-Hearing-Episode-22-e2hkll3. or on Apple, Audible or Spotify podcasts.

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