WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
Companies whose sales people think I can not get on with my life without their product or service – If I want it I’ll google it – stop phoning me!
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
The visit of the Irish Poets.
Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin.
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Last week saw my guest reading at the Shindig in Leicester. Along side Jane Commane, Charles Lander jr and Wayne Burrows. It was an excellent evening with a large audience, some really top quality poetry from both the guest poets and the floor. You can read Gary Longden’s review of the evening at
There are also further reviews at:
In the week that Ireland elected a poet as their President, we have three poets from Cork visiting the UK this week. I wanted to get my poems inspired by my trip to Cork finished so that I can read them at Nightblue Fruit and The Fizz.
I had started three and none of them were forming how I wanted them too, so last week, I decided to make a concerted effort to bring them to fruition. As I have said before I have to walk with my subjects going around in my head developing the themes in a negotiation between my conscious and sub-conscious, it is only when agreement is reached between these two factions that I can put my words to paper – or in modern parlance to the computer screen.
The first poem Cork City, the theme takes as its title suggests, the city and its culture, where I wander the streets seeking out its spirit, trying to shake out its psyche. My problem with this poem was the amount of themes and detail associated with this great city is massive and deciding what to include or leave out was the issue that I struggled with. My focus was finally drawn by an article written by one of the Cork poets, Afric McGlinchey in the Aer Lingus magazine, where she described Cork “as great place for poets to live”. This allowed me to tease out the details that were relevant to a poet, to see the place with an eye to its activities now with mere hints at its history and heritage.
The second poem, I started first, the themes being conceived when I was there, but although I had some clear thoughts, the final poem did not develop until the first one was completed. The poem, Cobh – The last Cathedral, takes its theme of the main harbour about 10 miles from Cork City, Cobh (pronounced Cove) was the main departure point for the ocean going liners heading for the Americas. Indeed the Titanic sailed from here in April 1912 before she met her fate in the Atlantic wastes. The town is dominated by St Colmains Cathedral; it would have been the last land based structure that the Titanic passengers would have seen. It was the power of this image that drew me in. Many people left Ireland for the Americas during the potato famine; this would have been the last piece of their homeland that they would ever see. It is a very powerful symbolic reference point.
The third poem The Grange Circle Bodhrani has become a folk tale, which I feel a bit nervous about as an Englishman, should I be creating new folklore for an ancient sacred site that is not in my own land?
The Grange Stone Circle is the largest in Ireland and the Black Stone, which forms part of it, is Ireland’s Largest Monolith. Paul Casey and I spent some time standing between the stones discussing its significance. The alley where the light shaft enters the circle on the longest day is clear but the lightstone that the light would hit is smothered by an Ash tree, as if this is breaking the magic. It is an enchanting place, a place of well respected folklore already; it perhaps does not need mine. It is said that the local people will not go to circle after dusk because from dusk to dawn it is the domain of the Fey Folk – the fairy folk, who are to be left to their world.
My poem tells of a bodhrani as drummer with his Bodhran, who with his kin of fiddlers, flautists and dancers was so lost in the beat that he did not notice that dusk had fallen. This angered Oberon King of Fey who saw them as being disrespectful. So in a thunder charge he used lightening to strike the cipin – the stick from the Bodhrani’s hand, which Oberon sent spinning around the circle turning the humans in to stone. The Bodhrani becoming the Black stone – Finally the stick rests at the foot of the lightstone and from this the Ash tree grows and kills the magic known to humans. Now the drummer and his clan cannot see or hear the day, but at night they dance to the Fey Folk’s tune, they are the jesters, entertainers, playthings of the Fey.
Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Jennifer Matthews will be reading at Nightblue Fruit at Taylor John’s House The Canal Vaults in Coventry on Tuesday 1st November – 8:00pm and at The Fizz 10 at the Tithe barn in Polesworth on 3rd November – 7:30pm – followed by an interview and reading on Hills FM Radio on Friday 4th November between 11:00 and 12:00. There will also be readings from Antony Owen, Barry Patterson and Myself who have all been representatives of Coventry on the Coventry-Cork Literature exchange over recent years.
The poetry of scam emails.
My poetic endeavours have not just been focussed on Cork. I turned my attention to a series of spam emails, which I regularly receive from persons supposedly in privileged positions at the Bank of Burkino Faso, who have through their daily work come across millions of dollars that no on knows about, offering to cut me in if I will assist with my bank account details so that they can transfer the money. I am sure that many of you will have received similar emails and that like me you know they are a scam. I do wonder about these poor deluded emailers, has no one told them we know what they are up to and that they are wasting their time, we are not going to bite.
I had six in my spam box last week, and took some time to read them, and to look at the language they used, the old fashioned phraseology, the sad picture they paint. It occurred to me that there was something poetic about them, that I could take lines and phrases and create a poem, a poem that used this interesting language, which had the feel and sadness of the emails, but in some way was more of a truth than the originals. I felt that something creative should come from these manipulative, fraudulent minds, that their misguided efforts should not be wasted.
I will be reading my poem PLEASE DO WELL TO REPLY TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. at Nightblue Fruit tomorrow evening in Coventry along with my new Cork poems.
The Nine Arches Press are running a full programme of workshops throughout the Winter and into the Spring in Warwick. The workshops are designed to enable poets to learn more about poetry and to gain in confidence in their poetic endeavours. They will be run by Jane Commane and Matt Nunn two of the most respected poets, editors, publishers and workshop leaders working in contemporary poetry.
Jane and Matt state that the workshops are:
“Designed to give you increased confidence and dexterity in your poetry writing, these workshops provide a focused and supportive atmosphere, and we guarantee you’ll leave with plenty of new poems and exciting ideas!”
More details on the full programme and the content of each workshop, plus how to contact them to reserve your place can be found at: http://www.ninearchespress.com/workshops.html
There is a New Folk and Poetry event in Ashby de-la Zouch. The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club is to be a monthly event with the first on the 15th November at the Giggling Goblin Coffee Shop, Mill Lane, Ashby – it starts at 8:30 to 8:45pm with a licensed bar and great coffee. It will then be on the third Tuesday of the month.
The event is hosted by Brian B. Langtry, who tells me he ran a poetry and folk club in the Black Country in the Mid 1970’s, which ran until the pub closed down. Brian has always been keen to mix the arts and has decided to give the Folk and Poetry format a revival in Ashby.
As Brian’s flyer says the Performers are from the audience. I hope it attracts some of the Leicestershire Folk singers who gave an impromptu performance in the bar at the Pitman Poets gig a few weeks ago then the audience is in for a really fantastic night and of course there will be us poets who will cast our metaphor and simile out to the eager listening ears.
My lost Poet is JOHN RAWLET (1642–1686)
John Rawlet, poet and preacher, he was not by any means a major poet, a single volume of his poetry was published a year after his death. His main contribution to history is as a preacher, in Wigan, Kirkby Stephen and Newcastle upon Tyne. He is remembered through the name of a School in his home town of Tamworth, now in wholly in Staffordshire but at Rawlet’s time, Tamworth was split between Stafford and Warwick, a time of the English civil war that saw the town divided between Parliamentarians on the Stafford side of town and the King on the Warwick side.
Rawlet was born into an agricultural family with its origins near Grendon in Warwickshire; his father was a wool trader and settled in Tamworth as a major centre of commerce. The Rawlett family name was spelt with two ‘T’s – it was John who styled the name with one and adopted this throughout his life.
Rawlet was educated at the towns Grammar School and came under the tutelage of Samual Shaw a Cambridge graduate who nurtured his calling into the church. The church at these times was a turbulent place as there were divisions between the conformists who were restored to their livings following the restoration of Charles II and had signed their allegiance to the crown and the non-conformists who had used the churches for their services under the Commonwealth of Cromwell and would not sign up to the King.
Rawlet entered Cambridge to study theology, and it is understood that he became well read; although he did not receive his degree at the time he was expected too, there is a period in his life between 1660 and 1665 where there is scant knowledge of his whereabouts. It is during his period at Cambridge that he writes his first verses many he dedicates to his mother.
He reappears in 1666 in London, It is the time of the great plague and he fears he may succumb to it, he writes a letter to his mother saying goodbye and how he feels saddened that he has not achieved his ambitions. The letter is never sent, but remains with his processions until some 30 years later. His thought presumably that on his death it would be found and sent to Tamworth. He is a tutor with a family at this time and is saved from the plague by the family moving to a country residence in Croydon – this also takes him away from The Great Fire of London which destroys the city later in the year. Taking with it many great libraries.
Through the talk of books and lost collections, Rawlet sees that men who have been published have greater opportunities and so publishes a small book with the help of Richard Baxter, A Sacramental Covenanting with Christ under the initials MM. Baxter’s ‘Letter to the Reader’ aimed at providing religious instruction to the common poorly educated people. He his mocked by Baxter who describes him as “the Captain of the ignorant”. Despite this his book proves very popular with the rich who purchase copies to distribute to the poor as charitable gifts.
It is not long before he is offered a living in Wigan, which accepts and holds for a couple of years before he is offered a position in Kirkby Stephen in Westmorland. His patron is Phillip Wharton (4th Baron Wharton). Westmorland (now Cumbria) is also Clifford country and Rawlet is delighted with his meeting with the dowager countess Lady Anne Clifford, who her self has purchased his book and distributed it to the poor of the north.
Following his time in Westmorland he is offered a position at St Nicholas’ Church in Newcastle upon Time, then a parish church and now the cities Cathedral. It is here that he finally succumbs to illness, marrying his long time friend Ann Butler some three days before his death in 1686. His friends gathered together his poems and published them the following year as Poetick Miscellanies of John Rawlet, B.D. and Late Lecturer Opoetic Miscellanies of John Rawlet, B.D. and Late Lecturer of S. Nicholas Church in the Town of Newcastle upon Tyne.
His legacy created the Rawlett Trust, which still exists today and annually pays out sums to those who meet the conditions of Raw let’s original intentions.
The school in Tamworth, now Rawlett Community College, was built on Rawlett Field a piece of land that was once owned by the trust. The school and trust both adopting the original spelling of the family name.
The school and the trust continue to perpetuate his name, his poetry however is mostly forgotten, the light verses on pastoral and religious themes show a poet whose craft was well developed, he chose not to pursue his life as poet but that of a preacher, this should not diminish his skill as a poet which can be seen in the on-line scanned copies of his verse published by his friends.
I am indebted to Margret Manuell for the information on John Rawlet’s life and work, which I have very much summarized here. You can read a more detailed biography of John Rawlet by Margaret at:
Online copy of Rawlet’s poetry at Virginia University.
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
November Readings and Workshops
1st Nov – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry – Guests The Cork Poets.
3rd Nov – The Fizz – Tithe Barn Polesworth. Guests The Cork Poets.
15th Nov – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby de la Zouch. – NEW EVENT
22nd Nov – Poetry Bites – Birmingham.
25th Nov – Spoken Worlds – Burton – Guest Ash Dickinson
Words for Peace
Coventry Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry CV1 1FY
An afternoon of poetry workshops run by local poets Antony Owen and Mal Dewhirst. Coventry schoolchildren will use war poems from Owen’s “Dreaded Boy” and selected famous war poetry to explore the themes of peace and reconciliation today. Influenced by what they have read and discussed the young people will create a collaborative poem as well as their own individual poems on what peace and reconciliation means to them. The poems will then the subject of an exhibition throughout the rest of 2011 in the Central Library. It is hoped that this exhibition will go on to show at other venues at a later date. Time: 12noon – 4.00pm – This event is by invitation only through local Coventry Schools.