The Front Room

A brief post to plug an event I am involved with tomorrow evening. The Front Room run spoken word & live music events in Portsmouth and the surrounding area. These are usually held in the (excellent) Hunter Gatherer in Southsea, but obviously at the moment are online.

You can pick up the event via the Front Room’s Facebook page. I am contributing three poem films – it’s the first time I have done anything like this (where I have made the films myself rather than using the skills of an established film maker). Any comments afterwards would be appreciated – always looking for ways to improve!

The three poems are;

The Transmutation of Geese

Metamorphosis in a Copnor Garden

The Domestication of Ghosts

The first and third poems can be found in Landings, the second one is brand new, written for tomorrow’s event.

Link for the event is;

Tales of Woe and Wonder

A quick post to mention another T’Articulation event which I will be reading at. I have a four minute slot at their Tales of Woe and Wonder this evening, which is being held at the excellent Hunter Gatherer coffee in Southsea.

As it starts in about 6 hours, I had better work out what I am going to perform! I’ve been reviewing the new work I was going to use, but have identified numerous tweaks required for each poem so have to change my plans completely! Nothing like short-notice changes!!

Event information below.

An evening of well-crafted words brought to you, through vibrant new work, from Portsmouth’s own spoken word troupe – T’Articulation.

Come and enjoy the friendly vibe that is T’Articulation. This is the fortieth event we’ve put on in just two years: most of them, including this, are free.
We’re happy for you to just listen to our offerings, of poetry and prose, or to join in. We’ll do our best to fill your mind with wonder and try our best not to add to your woe. Either way, we think we’ll connect. We can’t guarantee no tears, but we’re certain some of them will be of laughter. Have you heard our most outrageous performers? Or, our funniest? They’re often one and the same.

You can book tickets via eventbrite, or just turn up this evening.

Oh and the hovercraft photo? I’ve found and tweaked a poem that I may well read tonight … it was originally in my 51 poem running sequence (currently unpublished)…and hasn’t appeared anywhere before – this is a website exclusive (!)

Hovercraft Watching

Look now here it comes;
Out from past shadows,
from an island half-sketched
part-buried in mist;
this comet trailing spray
on its cushion of air.

Now I am nine again,
staring in wonder
as it roars in from the sea,
White paint, black-skirted;
a sideswipe of red,
relentlessly arrowing home.

I rub my eyes dry,
pretend it is the spray.

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.

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:

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.