Teignmouth Poetry Festival was really champion last weekend. In its second year now, it is one of the newest poetry galleons to dock along the South West coast but it attracts great crowds. Work regrettably made me miss almost half of it…..
But I did get to see Mimi Khalvati reading from her gorgeous new book, The Weather Wheel, on Sat night. (Congrats to the captains of said ship for this coup and for Ian Royce Chamberlain’s and Jennie Osborne’s brilliantly orchestrated lead-in.) She is a mesmerising reader of her own poems and these poems are truly mesmerising in themselves. They scintillate with easeful complexity and whether at the kitchen table or choosing a puppy they gently probe surface detail and find love behind everyday actions. Carefully constructed and crafted (Each 16 line poem is written in couplets and in each of the five sections there are 12 poems.) these poems contain stars, weather, the passage of night and day and family scenes. I never wanted her to stop but she mentioned being able to keep an eye on the clock and limited herself carefully to 30 mins. I bought the book and have been walking round with my nose in it ever since, trying not to cry over its depth of loveliness (and my poetry-envy).
Here’s something from ‘The Waves’…
Every day the world is beloved by me, the seagull eager
for its perch. I woke this morning to a darkened room,
My soul stabled at the gate. We grow older, quieter,
hearing degrees of movement, distance, and the dead
would listen if they could to the voices of the living
as bedrock listens to the ocean.
On Sun am lots of people took part in Penny Shuttle’s fantastic workshop on Streets! This rich subject inspired much discussion and lots of great poems. Penny’s workshops are always fun, challenging and accessible to all.
In the café and in the bar there were lots of reunions going on. I was glad to see many buddies (some I had only met virtually) and I had a chat with Isabel Galleymore whose Poetry doctorate is about dee-dah…. Nature Writing. Hurrah!
In the evening, Penny Shuttle read some of her marvellous new poems from her recently published pamphlet, In the Snowy Air, poems about London streets. These poems are multi-layered and filled with the city’s ghosts and they seemed to me to have quite a different energy and rhythm from what we have become used to in recent years.
This came after the excitement of the Poetry Competition results in which my poem, Wahr, had been shortlisted but did not win anything. When I heard the others which were all amazing I knew my fate! You can see the winners here or you will be able to v soon.
As a Grand Finale the Festival captains had put together a line-up that really made our toes twinkle, as they promised, with performances from Robert Garnham, Jackie Juno, Clive Pig and James Turner, local Devon home-grown poets and performers, rich and varied and very, very funny.