'Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things, and hence its importance.'
Poetry Teignmouth was founded by Veronica Aaronson and Ian Royce Chamberlain. Poets Jennie Osborne and Graham Burchell became involved shortly afterwards. Poetry Teignmouth offers the enticing prospect of exploring poetry from different angles in stimulating company.
And there he is in the morning brightness,
ginger fur, sour stench, hunting nose,
we stare, eye to eye, not daring to blink,
our feet stuck, as if in wet clay,
Then air is ripped by vixen scream,
yapping of frenzied dogs,
yelps of bloody chaos,
cloud covers sun.
He turns to go,
his eyes and her scream are fired,
permanently set in the kiln of my body.
I have lived and loved poetry since I was a child starting with AA Milne, Rod McKuen, the Liverpool Poets in my teens to William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson to name a few. I also love the Sufi poets, David Whyte and Mary Oliver.
Immersion in poetry has provided me with a containing other, has mirrored my moods, has been my journey’s companion, has fed my soul and made my heart sing.
I have had two previous short bursts of writing poetry - in love with life, everyone and everything in Cambridge in my early twenties, in my forties as I realised that I was living someone else’s life and now I am starting again in my ecstatic, exciting sixties.
My children have been fed poetry from an early age. I work as a psychotherapist and use prescription poetry as one of my tools.
My body has talked about a poetry festival in Teignmouth since I moved here.
Ian Royce Chamberlain
We sat through the tide
watched the ebb and listened
heard the last thin trickle
of her breath
waited for the turn but knew
She’s gone, my sister said
not a time to smile but we did
in a shaky kind of gratitude
for the flat calm drift of her release
where the detail deltas into mist
and the sea herself is sleeping, there
is a hard-cropped horizon
flat and finite as the line across her screen
No barriers, no dam
she always said she’d put up no resistance
feared abandonment in jaggedness
some rockpool fetid with decay
content she was with a quiet emptying
like shoreline kids with salty eyes
ran up and down the beach discovering
her footprints were
unaffected by the tide
My mother’s family were writers; she was an English teacher with a vast and unrestrainable fund of poetic quotes. So there was a kind of inevitability… But it wasn’t until my 50s, after a career in hard engineering, that the poetry bug bit me. And it was in the modern equivalent of lyrical poetry that I began to find a voice.
I am fascinated by language - by the mix of discipline with flexibility, the manipulation of words into a form which sounds exactly Right; 'Poetry is the best words in the best order' – ST Coleridge.
Poetry is a form of communication; a meaning should be clear to anyone who reads or hears it, not just other poets. This is specially true in poetry for performance, where the audience has a single opportunity to understand my spoken words.
My inspirations are the ‘messy business of being human’ (another quote, from Jennie Osborne), and the environment in which we live.
I relish showing people the detail which poets see, and helping them put their untapped visual expertise into words.
Poetry Teignmouth is a new and exciting challenge.
FIRST TO BLINK
And on the rain-slick road in front of me
white-staring staring me down
daring me down not moving
luminous in the moment in the car headlight
taking me in
taking my lethal metal jacket in
and not moving facing me down
claw gripping carcase
pinning me down
till I blink brake swerve
into the risk of oncoming
lifts upward like a leaf
letting go of gravity
curd of mist
of white ash
dissolving to night to drizzle
blurring to peripheral
letting me run
leaving me smeared
furred and bloody
on the road
I wrote and read incessantly as a child and teenager, strongly influenced by Dylan Thomas, the Liverpool poets and the lyrics and rhythms of rock and folk music. Once I married and started work, life got in the way for twenty years, and it wasn't until my early forties, in Cornwall, that I started writing again, eventually bringing out my first collection in 2010. This was followed by my latest collection, again from Oversteps Books, 'Colouring Outside the Lines' in 2015. I was both amazed and delighted to win the Kent and sussex Poetry Competition in 2015 with 'First to Blink'.
I write to make sense of the world, to show me to myself, to express what is both wholly personal and universal.
Inspiration comes from the South Devon landscape, working with other poets and artists, my everyday life. Always, there are connections.
I write both for the page and for performance, both free verse and set forms, aiming for a marriage of music and meaning.
TWO MINUTES SILENCE
At school a boy was allowed to climb the caretaker’s ladder,
clamber to a classroom’s flat roof, step carefully to a corner,
test his vertigo, and wait, trumpet in hand.
The chill snatched his trouser legs, pulled his hair, tugged
a colder place inside while a hush happened and watches
were checked. The headmaster’s was the only one that counted.
Like a bird in a tree and one on the ground each eyed the other,
until the tension would stretch no further.
An exaggerated nod: a hand gesture, and the boy blew,
slipped and slid around the first haunts of The Last Post
until he calmed and his breath brassed music; a sad calling
that stunned even the most unruly child into a chess pawn
on a plain grey board, ground, that for two minutes
would lose its play. It had stiffened – stiffened tighter
when a far off canon underscored. Imagine all their thoughts
spooling from a fax machine in the secretary’s office
for the adults to read about how much so many had yet
to learn of inner reflection, life and its Chinese burns.
I started to write my first book when I was seven and some forty-six years later I finished it. In between I had written village pantomimes, school plays and even dabbled briefly in performance poetry, but it wasn’t until I stopped being a teacher in 2003 that I took to writing poetry seriously. Since then I have moved on to publish two full collections and have studied for an M.A. in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
I was living in the United States when I started writing poetry as a career rather than as an amusement, and not surprisingly two of the four poets who have influenced me most profoundly are American - Billy Collins and James Wright. The English poets that have had similar influences are Ted Hughes and John Burnside.
I am always up for new ventures in poetry and to have something with the potential of Poetry Teignmouth virtually on my doorstep is very exciting.