Barbara Farley is the new Featured Writer. Her poems are often sideways looks at the strangeness of the world and her wry sense of humour shines through the understatement and the lyricism. It’s a fun evening at Exeter Uncut Poets when Barbara is there to regale us with her enigmatic perceptions … a twinkle in her eye as she tells us of a mass stranding of starfish on Budleigh Salterton beach, moving poems from her time volunteering in Africa. I look forward to seeing her collection one day in the not-too-distant future.
Exeter’s Uncut Poets is run by Alasdair Paterson and Gemma Green, both accomplished poets themselves who run the monthly sessions and organise the evening with a guest poet and 12 open mic-ers. Last month, Penelope Shuttle read from her captivating new book Unsent which, as Alasdair said, if there’s one book to buy this year…. At last week’s Uncut night the guest poet was Simon Williams who treated us all to a bravura stand-up performance that included fantastic poems from his two (yes, two) new collections, A Place where Odd Animals Stand from Oversteps and He She from Itinerant Press as well as brand new ones from his Napowrimo writing experiments. These poems involved audience participation, singing, whistling and beautiful writing on the subjects as diverse as Dominoes (‘Man’s Dominoes’) in a pub called The Wall to moving poems about a grandfather clock, his new grandson and funny ones about his own past and every shade in between. No wonder he was elected the Bard of Exeter!
That night there were no less than 14 poets who also read their poems. (Actually, if you count Gemma and Alasdair it was 16!) It is always striking how wonderfully different all the performers are and how courageous to read out their poetry. It always makes me think how diverse is the human voice. To me , this is quite enthralling. Last Thursday we heard many moving poems from a range of local and not-so-local poets. Three cheers for the inimitable Alasdair and Gemma for keeping warm the spirit of poetry in Exeter and enabling so many of us to find our feet and our voices in such generous and talented company. Uncut Poets is at The Phoenix Arts centre on the last Thurs of each month.