Archives for the month of: January, 2015

Happy Planet

Last night’s Poetry with Friends was exceptional. Every aspect of the session worked. The group has well and truly bonded, aided by existing friendships outside of the fortnightly sessions. I’m delighted to see new friendships popping up like snowdrops as a result of Poetry with Friends.

This was our first session of 2015. The theme was Beginnings but we decided we won’t need to set themes for future evenings as the dialogue flows on its own.

Chat, laughs, poems, claps. Echoes of ideas and sentiments. Values aired and shared. Four attendees read out their own work. Natural links: Ruth Padel (Charles Darwin’s great-great grandchild) to Carol Ann Duffy’s poem about Mrs Darwin. Holocaust Memorial Day to Sylvia Plath, ee cummings’ in just spring to Sappho’s My Love it is spring. David mentioned the word “hipster” and Ken quoted Ginsberg’s Howl at length. This was verbal jamming..a world away from stitled conversation and “how are they wife and kids?”

Allen Ginsberg - 1979

Poetry matters. Friends matter. Our Poetry with Friends sessions mean something to us all. We ended the evening discussing bullies from playground horrors, workplace rotters via familial monsters to world stage dictators. As Tracey Thorn sings in Little Hitler: “Little Hitlers, Little Hitlers grow into Big Hitlers. Look what they do”. The song also half quotes Sylvia Plath and that takes me back to the natural links of last night’s session.


I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated last night in The Mission. Join us next time on February 10th. No theme. No rules (apart from pre-booking with Gail ) and definitely no bullies.

The theme for today’s Poetry with Friends was “As You Like it” although the rest of the group told me the theme was “Bring your favourite poem.”

I’d shoved a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in my bag but wound up sharing Miroslav Holub, Wendy Cope and Maura Dooley.

maura dooley

The  rest of the gang shared poems including  Shelley’s Ozymandias, Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, Mrs Schofield’s GCSE by Carol Ann Duffy and Cradle Cap by Fiona Benson.

Newcomer Tess shared her own work…what a delight!

The conversation covered politics, feminism, poetry and education. As a result the subject of our next Poetry with Friends on the 5th of February is “Education, Education, Education.”

(Hey! Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!)



Poetry with Friends, the poetry appreciation group that isn’t a class but a gathering of like-minded souls returns this Thursday 22nd to Whitley Bay Library.

as you like it two

Come and join us. The theme is As You Like It.

Poetry with Friends at The Mission in North Shields recommences next Tuesday 27th and the theme is New Beginnings.

For more information on Poetry with Friends or to book a place please email

Happy Planet

The Stanza 001

Still buzzing from last night at The Chillingham in Heaton. Poets Harry Gallagher

20150116_7073 and Mandy Maxwell

20150116_7081have started a new spoken word evening every month at The Chilly. It’ s called The Stanza and I was one of three poets invited to perform.


I shared the stage with poets David O’Hanlon

20150116_7107 and Catherine Ayres.20150116_7218

I know David but it was the first time Catherine and I had met. Great poets. Authentic, enjoyable performances.

There were also open mic slots and I enjoyed seeing “big names” on the scene like

20150116_7201Jenni “Jibba Jabba” Pascoe,

20150116_7094Kirsten “Apples and Snakes” Luckins

20150116_7195and Jane Burn rub shoulders with newcomers including my cousin Ross Punton.


The audience was brilliant: receptive, interested and engaged. I got a “whoop” after performing my haiku. That was a first….

There were free poetry books courtesy of Borderline Books, the organisation that gives books to the bookless and music from Renata and Trev.

All in all a great night. Next one is Thursday February 19th. Entry: only £2.


Thank you PJ Harvey for my New Year gift! I read in today’s Guardian she’s going to record her next album in public as part of an art installation. Excuse me as I quote extensively from the newspaper:

Polly Jean will spend four weeks creating her ninth album with her band and production team behind one-way-mirrored glass at Somerset House in London.

The Recording in Progress project will be staged in a box in a recently opened wing of the venue and has been described as “a mutating, multidimensional sound sculpture”.


Harvey’s last release, 2011’s Let England Shake, a collection of songs inspired by conflicts around the world, was her second Mercury winner, taking the prize for the best album of the year a decade after Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea was honoured.

Harvey said: “I want Recording in Progress to operate as if we’re an exhibition in a gallery. I hope visitors will be able to experience the flow and energy of the recording process.”

She will work with producers Flood and long-time collaborator John Parish to make the album in what used to be the Inland Revenue’s staff gymnasium and rifle range.

Visitors, who will pay up to £15 for 45-minute slots, will be able to watch the various stages of the process as the band work on ideas for tracks, record new parts or simply discuss how to make progress.

The project is being presented by Somerset House and the art-commissioning organisation Artangel.

The co-directors of Artangel, James Lingwood and Michael Morris, said in a statement: “The working process of a project has always been as important to us as its public presentation and here both can be fully explored and revealed at the same time.”

Recording in Progress will take place from 16 January to 14 February

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