TODAY: Songs of Protest at Brockley Max


Copyright Ben Mueller-Brown

 

Vocal Chords are reprising our Songs of Protest repertoire for Brockley MAX Festival today, Sunday 4th June at 3.30.

St Hilda’s Church, Courtrai Road
SE23 1PL

We are joined by Carrie Cohen & Silas Hawkins who will read poems from Arachne Press’ Liberty Tales anthology.

£7 on the door (proceeds to Wheels for Wellbeing)

Books Sales & refreshments available

Carrie Cohen

The Thirty Second Mariner


And… the poem is published.

you can read it here, and even rate it. Spilling Cocoa is rapidly getting stuffed with witty and daft poems, go and have a browse.

my first ever poem is about to be published


Well, that isn’t actually true. I’ve written loads of poems, but I’ve just had one accepted for publication for the first time ever.

Anyway its very short and a bit silly, but it works – it’s a ‘proper’ poem with a recognisable form. I love writing free poetry but there’s a different kind of satisfaction to be got from the structured stuff,  a bit like a fiendish puzzle, there’s an audible crunch when it fits together perfectly.

Encouraged by the strapline: It’s OK, you’re allowed to be funny I sent something off. So at some point in the next couple of months my tiny poem, The Thirty Second Mariner will be online at the delightfully named Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis site run by Jonathan Pinnock.

On a bit of a roll, I’ve also had a flash piece accepted by Spelk Fiction, and Rising Dawn will be on their site on 20th June.

readings this week


Busy week again, singing Monday (Vocal Chords mid-project ‘stop-over’ concert)  and Sunday (rehearsing Brundibar at Blackheath – more on this later), teaching Tuesday, reading Saturday.

So the readings are:

Saturday: Arachne Press event at Keats House – readings from The Other Side of Sleep, and discussion of Narrative Poetry. I’m not reading personally apart form a cheeky 30 second thing, but I am taking part in my role of editor of the book. Readings from Alwyn Marriage, Jennifer A McGowan, Bernie Howley, Sarah Lawson and  Math Jones.

 

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 1st


Aemelia (or her sister Angela) Bassano

A new month, but no birthday to celebrate. I’ll have run out of people whose dates I haven’t found soon and then where will I be?

Ok, never mind. Today we are composing birthday odes for Emilia Bassano Lanier aka Aemelia Lanyer 1569–1645

Emilia was  Jewish, the  illegitimate daughter of Venetian musician Baptista Bassano and Margaret Johnson, her father worked as a court musician to Henry VIII. She married Alphonso Larrier, another musician when she became pregnant by her lover Lord Hunsden. The portrait here (by Hilliard) is almost certainly of one of the Bassano sisters, and even if it isn’t Emilia, gives us some idea what she may have looked like.

Emilia was a feminist and a poet – the first woman in England to publish a book of original poetry, Salve Rex Deus Judaeorum; in it she works her way through just about every woman in the bible, pointing out how important they are to Judaism and Christianity.

She has been claimed as Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, (you know, – my mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun? – that one) and even more delightfully and controversially to have written or collaborated on some of his work… Her family certainly knew people Shakespeare knew, and there is a reasonable likelihood that her brother-in-law and Shakespeare worked together at some point. It’s an attractive idea, but let’s stick to what is certain.

But surely Adam cannot be excused,
Her fault though great, yet he was the most to blame;
what weakness offered, strength might have refused,
Being lord of all the greater was his shame…
… If Eve did err, it was for knowledge sake,
No subtle serpents falsehood did betray him
If he would eat it, who had power to stay him?
Not Eve, whose fault was only too much love,
which made her give this present to her dear,
That what she tasted, he likewise might prove
Whereby his knowledge might become more clear…
…Then let us have our liberty again,
And challenge to your selves no Sovereignty;
You come not into the world without our pain,
Make that a bar against your cruelty;
Your fault being greater, why should you disdain
Our being your equals, free from tyranny?

Eve’s Apology.

[men…] Forgetting they were born of woman, nourished of women, and that if it were not by the means of women they would be quite extinguished out of the world, and a final end of them all, do like vipers deface the wombes wherein they were bred.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 22nd February


Vincent

Today’s birthday girl is

Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950)

also known as Nancy Boyd when writing prose, and who called herself ‘Vincent’.

Vincent was an American poet and playwright in 1923 she became the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, her first poems were published when she was in her teens, and already a bit of a ladies woman.

She first came to attention when she was passed over for a prize, and (to their credit) the men who had ranked higher than her protested that her poems was better, in one case handing ver the prize money. Nothing like a little controversy to launch a girl’s career, and she needed help the family were living in abject penury, and one of the pluses of the fuss was that Vincent attracted a wealthy patron who paid for her to go to college.

Her poetry was feminist and pacifist (during WWI). She had affairs with both men and women,  notably Edith Wynne Matthison, a British actress.

Edith Wynne Matthison
Edith Wynne Matthison

letter to Edith Wynne Matthison

You wrote me a beautiful letter, – I wonder if you meant it to be as beautiful as it was. – I think you did; for somehow I know that

your feeling for me, however slight it is, is of the nature of love…When you tell me to come, I will come, by the next train, just as I am. This is not meekness, be assured; I do not come naturally by meekness; know that it is a proud surrender to You.

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

But you, you foolish girl, you have gone home to a leaky castle across the sea to lie awake in linen smelling of lavender, and hear the nightingale, and long for me

I do not think there is a woman in whom the roots of passion shoot deeper than in me

One things there’s no getting by,
I’ve been a wicked girl,
Says I…
But, if I can’t be sorry I might as well be glad !

I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can’t keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
And your husband has been gone, and you don’t know where, for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope…
Penelope, who really cried

Sense, Sentences and Sensibility – building poems from scratch


I’m running a poetry workshop on Friday.  I keep quiet about poetry most of the time, but the opportunity came up (through Spread the Word), and I’ve been flexing my poetry muscles at the Poetry Cafe’s Poetry@3, Poetry at Mr Lawrence’s and the Towersey Festival recently, so here I go!

I’ll be exploring how poems work and finding your own voice through use of as many senses as possible (very possibly using props!)  Suitable for novice and more experienced writers of poetry.

Join me at

Donald Hope Library
Cavendish House, High Street, Colliers Wood, London SW19 2HR
Friday 21st February between 1-3pm. FREE!