Prestwich Library Poetry Group – Poems For People


Hi Everyone!

This is my first contribution to the Blog [in fact my first contribution to any blog!] so here goes. Dawn Broadhurst (Reader Development Team) suggested I might outline the events at the Prestwich Library poetry group – Poems for People, as we call it.
The group started about 12 weeks with a modest attendance of two brave souls – which has now grown to a more impressive dozen or so. We meet at the Library on Fridays from 10 – 11 a.m. and each week we read and discuss a different poem. This is our latest:

The Caravan by Clare Pollard

We were alive that evening, on the north Yorkshire moors,
in a valley of scuffed hills and smouldering gorse.
Pheasants strutted, their feathers as richly patterned
as Moroccan rugs, past the old Roma caravan –
candles, a rose-cushioned bed, etched glass –
that I’d hired to imagine us gipsies
as our bacon and bean stew bubbled,
as you built a fire, moustached, shirt-sleeves rolled.
It kindled and started to lick, and you laughed
in your muddy boots, there in the wild –
or as close as we can now get to the wild –
skinning up a joint with dirty hands, sloshing wine
into beakers, the sky turning heather with night,
the moon a huge cauldron of light,
the chill wind blasting away our mortgage,
emails, bills, TV, our broken washing machine.
Smoke and stars meant my thoughts loosened,
and took off like the owls that circled overhead,
and I knew your hands would later catch in my hair,
hoped the wedding ring on them never seemed a snare –
for if you were a traveller I would not make you settle,
but would have you follow your own weather,
and if you were a hawk I would not have you hooded,
but would watch, dry-mouthed, as you hung above the fields,
and if you were a rabbit I would not want you tame,
but would watch you gambolling through the bracken,
though there is dark meat packed around your ribs,
and the hawk hangs in the skies.

I get to choose the poems and I try to write out some notes on each one, which are given out at the end. The ideal poem is between 20 – 4o lines long and hopefully not so simple that it can be digested immediately, nor so complex that it has us scratching our heads as we emerge into the ice and snow at the end of the session.
The dozen or so poems that we have looked at so far seem to have worked pretty well; we can normally look forward to a lively half-hour discussion before moving on to the notes and other business [such as devouring Lynne’s exceptional cakes and mince-pies].
Most of the poems are in a modern, informal style – but we did spend one session reading an extract from Chaucer and there has been a request for a Shakespeare sonnet. I see my role as an organizer rather than teacher, but if I can baffle folk with the complexities of the iambic pentameter, I don’t need much encouragement.
Why not come along and see for yourself? Contact Prestwich library for more details.
Paul Murphy





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