Archives for posts with tag: Dylan Thomas

Man, I  get so much out of co-running Poetry with Friends. Thursday’s session in Whitley Bay library was meant to be about Love and its opposite but we went all over the place with Ogden Nash, Roger McGough, John Cooper Clarke, Thomas Hardy, Christina Rossetti, John Masefield, Barrie Horn, Stevie Smith, Seamus Heaney & Dylan Thomas.

cooper clarke

We also talked about Hawaiian drug dealing, being mistaken for a terrorist and a murderer, cycling, running, the joys of retirement, New Year resolutions and homelessness.

Gail and I are asking our Happy Planet gang to send us their top five poems of all time so we can compile a list. I worked out mine during Thursday’s session. Just sent it to Gail now. I’m happy with my choices.

Two weeks tonight Death at Dawn will take to the stage at Wallsend’s Memorial Hall. I’m involved with the promotion of this award-winning play’s revival. If you want to know more about the play and the man who inspired it, William Hunter who died 100 years ago then visit

138-3956 Death at Dawn poster

Throats are described as being “bricky-dry” in Rudyard Kipling’s poem Gunga Din, one of the many poems shared at last Thursday’s Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay Library. My throat was bricky-dry at the end of a session that overran because we had so much to say about our chosen topic, “Heroes.”  Bricky-dry too because of the emotions that rose then subsided over time. Proof, as if it was needed, that poetry stirs and calms us.


The room we use in Whitley Bay Library every fortnight for Poetry with Friends had been used earlier in the week for a John Hegley gig. I’d attended the sold-out event with a couple of the Poetry with Friends gang and was still buzzing from it at Thursday’s session.

I’ve loved John’s work for years. I even had a short correspondence with him in the 1980s when he fronted the band The Popticians. I became obsessed with their single Mobile Home and over 30 years on, still know all the words. Sad but true!

mobile home

The audience at John’s gig ranged in age from school kid to octogenarian. We all laughed and joined in his songs. I had a smile on my face from start to finish and the feel-good factor lasted for days. Ah! I’m sorry I missed his impromptu performance the following evening at a buskers’ evening in Whitley Bay. Rats!

I shared my thoughts on John at Thursday’s Poetry with Friends session and read out a couple of his poems. Joyce jumped in with a wonderful rendition of Gunga Din then we went on a journey from World War Battlefields with John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields onto to Bhopal, Ken Saro Wira’s Nigeria, and finally to the classrooms of our childhood.


Rowland’s poem written to commemorate 20 years since Ken Saro-Wira’s death was one of the moments when my throat went bricky-dry. The same thing happened when Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night was shared and when Gail played us Maya Angelou performing her signature poem And Still I Rise.

Throughout our session the hot water boiler made noises similar to birdsong. Was it whistling water or the ghost of a bird trapped inside? The soundtrack was perfect for Pat’s reading of Swallows by Cumbrian poet, Mary Robinson.


Our next session’s theme is “Go As You Please” chosen by James. Bring whatever poem takes your fancy but don’t forget to reserve your seat with Gail by emailing


Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay last Thursday morning with Gail, Joyce, Carol, Geoff, Elizabeth and myself. We talked about facial hair, Durham, clothes, plagiarism, South versus North, Jerusalem (the city not William Blake’s), travelling, Foucault, education, politics, academia, London and William Blake.



In between we drank tea and coffee and shared poems including work by  John W White, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, Mbella Sonne Dipoko and W. H. Auden. And Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd.

Those words always make me think of Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World. The painting takes its title from another book in the bible, John: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness..”

There was a metal sign of the Holman Hunt  painting and the quote which hung above my Nan’s bed. I was transfixed by it as a child when I stayed over and shared her double bed.  I was scared of the dark and found comfort in that image and those words. The bed was always warm and the sheets smelt so sweetly clean. Perhaps all Nan bedrooms smelt the same? I’d like to think so.


Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay returns to the library on Thursday May 28th. The theme will be Holidays.

We’re a very friendly group and new attenders are always welcome. The only thing we ask is that you book a place, so we know how many people to expect.  You can book via email to


I spent this morning with the Wansbeck Writers’ Group. I’d been invited along to perform and discuss my work during one of their Wednesday morning sessions. The group’s based in Ashington and has been running for almost 30 years.

Anita Brookner

The group meets on a weekly basis and are friendly, committed, listen to and are supportive of each other, modest and have a wide range of literary tastes and influences.

Seamus Heaney, Catherine Cookson, Anita Brookner, Dylan Thomas, Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson and Ray Bradbury were some of the favourite authors mentioned.

ray bardbury

I thoroughly enjoyed  listening to members’ work, especially the haiku they rustled up just before and during the tea break.

Two folk mentioned local poet W W Gibson. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of him but now I know my homework for tonight ahead of tomorrow’s Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay library.


Full house and almost full moon at The Mission tonight. Poetry with Friends kicked off not with poems but Gail’s delicious homemade broth and stotties and baguette from Pat and Linda.

anne sexton

Three newcomers joined regulars to play about with our theme “Big Spooky Bang.” We shared work by poets including Adrian Mitchell, Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allen Poe, Swinburne and, er McGonagall.

Newcomer, The Legendary Ken Creen, performed twice and regular Alan was inspired to write and then read out a poem during the session. Regular Elizabeth shared a moving poem about her grandmother.

I read out the lyrics to Elvis Costello’s Indoor Fireworks from his King of America album and Linda read a poem by Paul McCartney.

The next Poetry with Friends at The Mission is on Tuesday 18th November at 7pm and the theme is “Illness, Health & Disease.” Cue Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Keats…

The next Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay Library takes place next Thursday 13th at 11am and the theme is “Secrets.”

konig von usa


Another evening of appreciating poetry at Happy Planet Creative’s HQ, The Mission in Rudyerd Street, North Shields.

Two new poetry lovers joined the regular crew and work discussed included Emily Dickinson’s Ample Make this bed, Jenny Joseph’s Dawn Walkers and Heather Buck’s  Evening.

The theme for the evening was Night Life but we went wandering down different conversational cul de sacs before being called back for tea and cake.

dead poets society

Walt Whitman’s  By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame led to a chat about the late Robin Williams. This seemed like a good excuse for a still from  Dead Poet’s Society. Oh Captain my captain.

The full list was:

Emily Dickinson Ample Make this bed

Walt Whitman’s  By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame

e.e. cummings Nobody Loses All The Time

Alison Chisolm The Office Party

Jenny Joseph Dawn Walkers

Marc Travis Car Far

Anon The Curse of Cruising: It Must Be Time To Eat

Thomas Moore Oft in the Stilly Night

John Betjeman Slough

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Wanderer’s Night Song

Seamus Heaney An August Night

Philip Larkin Wild Oats

Heather Buck Evening

Dylan Thomas Should Lanterns Shine

Edna St Vincent Millay First Fig

The next poetry appreciation evening will take place on Tuesday 26th August and the theme will be Nautical.



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