This City By the Sea and All That You Need

On Monday 18th February I interviewed Margaret Jennings at an event hosted by T’Articulation as part of this year’s Portsmouth Bookfest. The interview seemed to go down well (it was my first attempt at interviewing someone!), and I have subsequently found out that it was recorded and will be played on Portsmouth’s QA Hospital Radio sometime soon. I’ll post the link when it is available.

The event, which happened at 113 Art House Coffee (which I’ve not been to before and can highly recommend – excellent service, and the chocolate mint cake is to die for! ), also had really varied and enjoyable readings by a wide range of other poets, plus plenty more, all for £3 a ticket. If you are looking for something to do next Monday, then there is another T’Articulation event at Hunter Gatherer in Southsea – Tales of Woe and Wonder – follow the link for further details. https://www.facebook.com/events/1214127698797650/

Then on Sunday March 1st, I will be attempting to read a memorised poem in the bar of the Theatre Royal – this Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. I am really nervous about this, as I haven’t had the time to completely nail it yet. I guess we will see how it goes! Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/574654726713237/

It’s not as if I have a quiet week or so ahead – as things stand I am out every evening until the 1st with one exception – Portsmouth may have a reputation for being a rough old town, but a huge amount has changed over the past few years. It’s a very different place to what it was when I used to stay with my grandparents in the 1970s, and has a large and growing cultural scene. It’s well worth exploring!

The photograph at the top of this post is of the Lipstick Tower at Gunwharf Quays. It was one of a series of photos I took whilst training for various marathons and half-marathons (before my joints gave in!). Gunwharf Quays was one of the first major parts of the regeneration of Portsmouth to go ahead, and whilst primarily retail / leisure focussed, it has been pretty influential as a starting point for the changing perception of the city. Obviously the Spinnaker Tower has been a significant part of this development.

Anyway, this leads on to a poem. It appears in Landings, and also is on the Places of Poetry website, and is a paean to my home, this city by the sea.

The Next Station Is

Portsmouth and Southsea then Fratton and Hilsea,
clattering over the creek to the points at Cosham
west to Southampton, Salisbury and Cardiff,
east to Brighton, north to Waterloo.

And you will catch your breath in her reflection,
watching the world from a window seat,
as seasons concertina in ripening fields.
Commuter belt villages and old market towns,
reels of film on a cutting room floor;
are the scenes we keep the ones we’d choose?

And she will be returning here in your arms,
like yawning workers on the stopping train
memories slurring as carriages sway,
past Bowlplex, Vue and the lipstick tower.

Morning always loops home to this place.
dawn into day into dusk into night.
A circle aching still to be filled
with children’s laughter like marker pens.
Love and hope in permanent ink;
this city by the sea and all that you need.

An Interview with a Poet

I’ve just started reading (and very much enjoying) We Are The Lizards, Margaret Jennings first published poetry collection. Margaret is also published by Dempsey & Windle, and I will be interviewing her as part of Portsmouth Bookfest on February 17th – in fact, it’s the first event of Bookfest this year – no pressure then!

If anyone has any particular questions they would like asked, please let me know in the comments below

Details on the event are below –

An evening full of poetry: an interview with local poet Margaret Jennings, readings, discussion and the chance to share your own work.

About this Event

An Evening of Poetry – brought to you by T’Articulation.

 A convivial soiree with local poets, published and from the spoken word circuit.

An interview of Margaret Jennings, Portsmouth’s recently published new poet, will be conducted by Richard Williams who has a most excellent collection of his own with the same publishing house. This will be followed by themed readings from the work of a number of local poets. We will also delve into their techniques. Following on, there’ll be opportunities for the audience to share their own work. Oh, and a surprise on the night, if we’re lucky – which we will be because I’ve just had availability confirmed.

Food and drink can be bought from the cafe, throughout the evening.

A book stall of poetry books by local authors (who would love to sign one just for you) will be complemented by secondhand offerings of anthologies from other, well established, poets.

For further details, and to book tickets to this and other Bookfest events, please go to http://www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk/2020-festival-programme/

This event is organised by T’Articulation, a Portsmouth based writing collective, who have their own Facebook page listing various events, including open mic readings, here. They are a friendly bunch and won’t bite if you want to have a go! https://www.facebook.com/TArticulation/

Oh and you can find more about, and buy Margaret’s book here; https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/margaret-jennings.html