Poetry Please

It’s over to you for the last Poetry Room of 2012. This month we’re asking you to bring along a poem that you love. It can be anything from a tanka to a sonnet to free verse, it might have been written this year or last century: the only rule is that it should not be written by you. Please bring along ten photocopies of your chosen poem as well.

We’re meeting, as ever, on the first Tuesday of the month – Tuesday 3 December – from 6pm-8pm. Come and find us at Newcastle City Library on Level Three, head past the children’s section and keep going until you find us in a semi-circle of chairs by the back wall.

Come and join us (whether you’re a newcomer or an old hand) and make this the season of all things poetry!

Travelling and Tangoing at the Poetry Room

Bulgarian-born poet, novelist and travel-writer Kapka Kassabova brings us a riot of voices and cultures in her arresting poetry collection Geography For The Lost (Bloodaxe, 2007).  This month at the Poetry Room, we will be discussing this distinctive book which is concerned with issues of loss, identity, language and love. We will be talking about the following poems in particular:
I want to be a tourist
Lying with the Ghosts of Berlin
Postcard from Paradise
Steve’s Last Summer
Love in the Dark Country
Happiness on the North Sea
Self-portrait of Anastassia in 12 random snaps
Come along and join us on (whether you’ve been before or are a newcomer) on Tuesday 6 November from 6pm-8pm in Newcastle City Library, Level Three – turn right out the lift and keep walking until you find us in a circle of chairs by the back wall.
This month’s session is by way of a warm-up for Kapka’s appearance at Café Culture, Dance City on Monday, 3 December at 6.30.  In this free event, held in conjunction with New Writing North, Kapka will be talking to Caroline Beck about her latest project:  Twelve Minutes of Love:  A Tango Story which will be followed by a tango demonstration.  No need to book, just turn up and tap your foot.
So, two free poetry dancey events to warm your cockles on these November evenings:  shake a tail feather and hope to see you at one or both!

Carol Ann Duffy

Bees are the batteries of orchards,
gardens, guard them…

After last month’s wonderful visit from Read Regional poets Christy Ducker and Anne Ryland, in October we will be returning to our usual format of meeting a poet on the page. We are fortunate in anticipating a visit from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to Durham Book Festival to coincide with a the premiere of her new version of Rapunzel, specially written for balletLORENT. Carol Ann will also be giving a reading at the Gala Theatre, Durham, on Friday 19 October at 6.30pm. If you come along to October’s Poetry Room, you will be entitled to a free ticket for this event.

We will be looking at Carol Ann Duffy’s latest collection – The Bees (Picador 2011). It is a tour de force, evoking diverse instances of loss, captured in the powerful image of the world’s vulnerable bee population. As well as the destruction of the natural world, the violence of war also provokes sorrow and a longing for poetry to act like a spell and unwind the various unwelcome events the poet must bear witness to.

These are poems that make new myths out of old – about love and the land, time and the child, death and the mother. It crackles with dazzling wordplay, intense pleasure and virtuosity with the language itself, and the palpable, utterly human, tension between holding-on/celebrating and letting-go/mourning.

Poems that we will be reading include:

Last Post
The Female Husband
The English Elms
The Woman in the Moon
Cockermouth and Workington
A Rare Bee

You’re in danger of missing a chance to discuss one of the finest books by one of our finest poets in advance of her visit to the North East if you miss the Poetry Room this month. Do come along to the City Library (third floor, behind the fiction section) on Tuesday 2 October, 6pm-8pm. We looking forward to seeing you.

For those of you who are going, Carol Ann Duffy’s reading in Durham will take place at the Gala Theatre (before Rapunzel) at 6.30pm on Friday 19 October. There will be musical accompaniment from John Sampson and the event will last approximately one hour.

See you there.


Read Right…Read Regional

The new season at the Poetry Room beckons and this September we’ve got company!  Two fantastic poets, Christy Ducker and Anne Ryland, will be joining us to read from and discuss their latest collections.

Christy Ducker’s debut collection Armour (Smith/Doorstop 2011) was a winner in the Poetry Business Competition, judged by Simon Armitage, and was also singled out as a Poetry Book Society Choice.  Her writing is arresting, playful and with a great sense of form.  She is often concerned with the stuff of life including love, motherhood and her native Northumberland.  Among the poems we will be looking at are Deer, A Lesson in Quickstep for Strangers and Armour.

Berwick-based Anne Ryland’s second collection is The Unmothering Class (Arrowhead Press, 2011).  Her debut, Autumnologist, was shortlisted for the prestigious Forward Prize for Best First Collection.  Divided into three parts, The Unmothering Class includes beautifully told, haunting sequences on the poet’s female ancestry as well as considerations of place, myth, fertility and genetic inheritance implied by the book’s title.  We will be focusing on the poems The Ruin Withholds its Secrets, Thrashing the Holy Linens and The Twins’ Heads in particular.

Both Anne and Christy are taking part in this year’s Read Regional campaign run by New Writing North.  The project, run in conjunction with over 20 libraries across the North of England, supports and promotes new books by writers based in the North-East, Yorkshire and Humberside.  For more, see www.readregional.com

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday 4 September from 6pm-8pm at Newcastle City Library.   We meet on the third floor:  turn right out of the lift and  keep walking, you’ll find us in a circle of chairs by the back wall.  If you can’t get hold of the books in advance, don’t worry as there will also be some copies available to buy on the night.

Come Rain or Shine

Last night in the Poetry Room we made light of the rain and celebrated summer with a fine selection of poems – as varied, elegant and moving as ever.  Here’s what we chose for those who weren’t able to make it.  Many thanks to all who brought a poem and shared in the lively and illuminating discussion.  Looking forward to seeing you again in September – Tuesday 4th, 6pm-8pm in the City Library, as usual.  Meanwhile, have a wonderful August break, whatever the weather.

About the Olden Days – Gill Learner
Full Moon and Little Frieda – Ted Hughes
Boom! – Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Her News – Hugo Williams
Briggflatts – Basil Bunting
The Woman Has to Die – Benjamin Zephaniah
Sonnet 22 – William Shakespeare
Autumn Journal III – Louis MacNeice
Land – Carol Ann Duffy
Love After Love – Derek Walcott

Any old (or new) poems this July


This month at the Poetry Room, you decide! We would like you to bring along a poem: ancient or contemporary, rhyming or not, tanka or sonnet…whatever you like. There are only two rules:

1) It should be a poem you love
2) It should not written by you

If you can bring along ten photocopies of your chosen poem, even better!

This is our final session of the season and it is always a goodie. It would be great to see you there (even, and especially, if this is your first time!)

Come along and join us on Tuesday 10 July from 6pm-8pm. We meet on the third floor of Newcastle City Library – turn right out of the lifts and keep walking…

Ten Years…

Next session (* please note: shifted to 12 June) we will be looking at Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward books of Poetry 2002-2011 (Forward, 2011).  Exactly what it says on the tin, it’s a selection of Forward Press founder William Sieghart’s favourite poems from the last ten years’ books, as well as those which have won one of the Forward prizes for best collection, best first collection or best single poem.

It seemed a good opportunity to read a range of poets and get a sense of the themes and fashions of the past decade.  I have particularly chosen poems by poets that we’ve not looked at in the Poetry Room before (or at least not for a few years or so) to widen our net – and maybe be prompted to explore some of these new names further in next season’s programme.

Eavan Boland – Inheritance
Helen Dunmore – To My Nine-Year-Old Self
Douglas Dunn – The Year’s Afternoon
Vicki Feaver – The Gun
Vona Groarke – Bodkin
Alan Jenkins – Effects
Gwyneth Lewis – Mother Tongue
Lorraine Mariner – Thursday
Jamie McKendrick – An Encroachment
Sinéad Morrissey – Genetics
Sheenagh Pugh – Night Nurses in the Morning
Myra Schneider – Goulash
George Szirtes – Song
Anna Wigley – Dürer’s Hare

It was hard to choose just a few from nearly a hundred poems – you will have your own favourites.  I also steered clear of the wonderful longer pieces to allow room to look at more poets.  Come along and discuss one selection of what contemporary poetry’s been up to over the past ten years.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you who can make it for our penultimate session of the summer season – on Tuesday 12 June from 6pm till 8pm in City Library, Newcastle.

Love, landscape and Rich Teas

We’re kicking off May at the Poetry Room with the wonderful Little Gods by Jacob Polley (Picador, 2006). The book is Cumbrian-born Polley’s second collection: a writer who, although young in poet-years, is also an award-winning novelist, film-maker and has been discussed in the media as a future poet laureate.
Little Gods meditates on love, loss, the natural world and the passage of time in poems that are subtle, technically adept and surprising. Polley borrows from the gothic while also evoking a grounded contemporary world of bananas, plastic dog shit and cheese spread. The poems we will be looking at in particular are:

The Owls
Sally Somewhere
City in Winter

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday 1 May at 6pm-8pm on 3rd Floor of the City Library, Newcastle. (Turn right out of the lift and head towards the circle of chairs next to the back wall! ) If you have never been before, make this the month and get May off to a poetic start!

Boilers, Birds and Banking

The piercing, beautiful and witty Profit and Loss by Leontia Flynn (Cape, 2011) is our poetry book of choice for this month.  Although still in her thirties (and as the poet says in Letter To Friends ‘these days we’re classed as youth/till 44) this is Flynn’s third collection:  her first book won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and her second the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

Divided into three sequences, Profit and Loss opens with meditations on past rooms and lives, before moving into a long poem that explores the sociological and technological changes of the last decade through the filter of a flat-clearing.  The collection ends with poems of filial grief coupled with the consolations of motherhood. 

We will be looking at the following poems in particular.

‘The Notorious Case of Robert the Painter’

The Day We Discovered Pornography in the Mail

The Help-Line

The Superser


There’s Birds in My Story

Letter To Friends (Part I)

A Plane


 See you in Newcastle City Library next Tuesday (3 April) at 6pm-8pm.  We’ll be in the usual place which is level three, turn right out of the lifts and head for the circle of seats next to the back wall!  Do come.  And if you’ve never been before, Spring is a good time to try something new.

A New Star

In 2011, Rachael Boast’s Sidereal won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and, surprisingly for a book of poetry, was long-listed for The Guardian First Book Award. Its title is a Latinate word, meaning ‘of…’ or ‘like stars’ and these poems are full of allusions to the sky at night, lending them a striking luminosity: impossible not to feel wonder when witnessing a meteor shower or contemplating the vastness of space but a harder thing altogether to communicate it convincingly. Boast’s poems are highly reflective, nuanced meditations on relationship, the ‘space’ between things, the constellation of a life. There is much movement, an almost reluctant restlessness, charting the attentive navigation necessary for intimacy within a landscape, feet on the ground, as well as in the territory of the heart. Earth and spirit vie for an authentic balance in intelligent, playful poems that range round the co-ordinates of what can be sustained, where it is possible to place one’s faith, in the face of suffering and impermanence.

Divided into two mirror-like sections, the poems in this collection we’ll be considering include:

Human Telescope
The Hum
A View of Canaletto’s Venice
Cycle Path
View of the Gorge

Rainbow Weather
The Long View
Void of Course

Follow the stars to the City Library on Tuesday 6 March, 6pm-8pm to find out more about this impressive and enjoyable new voice in the contemporary poetry firmament.