Archives for posts with tag: John Betjeman

Poetry with Friends, the poetry appreciation gang I attempt to oversee with artist Gail Curry continues to inspire and educate me. I say “attempt to oversee” in a light-hearted way. It’s a comment on how the group has evolved over time and, in the words of Thoreau, dances to its own tune:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau

Our Poetry with Friends group on a Tuesday evening is currently homeless. We will be rehoused but in the meantime took our lack of home as an excuse to visit one of our gang who has been too unwell to join us.

Last night (Thursday I know, not Tuesday but who is keeping tabs on us? We dance to our own tune!) Rowland, Pat and I visited John and enjoyed a PWF session. I kicked off reading John the poem written by one of our chums Harry Gallagher for last night’s host. John LOVES the poem. Thank you Harry.

We also shared poems by C S Lewis, Mary Oliver (Ha! No surprise from Pat but who tires of Wild Geese?), W. H Davies’ Leisure and our favourite poet, Anon. Rowland gave a top notch rendition of The Licorice Fields at Pontefract by Betjeman amd I enjoyed reading Timothy Winters by Charles Causley.


John and I read some of his poems and his son shared one of his own as well as giving a wonderful reading of Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s Solitude:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air;

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.


Rejoice, and men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go;

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all,—

There are none to decline your nectared wine,

But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;

Fast, and the world goes by.

Succeed and give, and it helps you live,

But no man can help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure

For a large and lordly train,

But one by one we must all file on

Through the narrow aisles of pain.


I run Poetry with Friends and creative writing workshops via Happy Planet Creative Arts which operates out of Boo Boo and Ted, 264 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, NE26 2TG.

Poetry with Friends sessions continue to enthrall and inspire thanks to the choice of poems and the conversations in between the poems. Recent sessions at both Boo Boo and Ted on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings at Whitley Bay library have instigated debate on The Budget, coughs and colds, “people of a certain age”, poetic inspiration, education, astrology, EU referendum, terrorism and equality.


In between these topics we’ve shared poems by poets including Emily Dickinson, Colette Bryce, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, W.B Yeats, John Betjeman, John Keats, Jackie Kay, William Wordsworth, Gerard Manley Hopkins and numerous poems by at least six members of the Poetry with Friends gang. One of them, Alan continues to amaze us by writing there and then. On the night!


Poetry with Friends returns in April. The first Thursday morning one is April 14th and the first Tuesday evening is April 19th.



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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