Nostalgia theme at August’s Write Angle

REVIEW

Write Angle – poetry and music cabaret 

The Townhouse, Petersfield

Tuesday, August 22

As it was warm in the upstairs room at The Townhouse, the opened windows admitted the noise of traffic, police sirens and revellers spilling out of the downstairs bar but in spite of that, the audience seemed well tuned to the music and poetry that filled the evening.

Guest poets for the evening were Claire Dyer and Claire Booker. Although the two Claires were booked together, they do perform separately and each is a strong, headline performer in her own right.

Coincidentally, there was an unplanned element of nostalgia, within the 29 poems read and performed by the two Claires which seemed, somehow, to continue with the open mikers.

Claire Booker started with a beguiling poem of her First Kiss – “you are seven, I am six”; about her father suffering from dementia in Visiting My Father – this is full of gaps, like his mind with occasional “bright berries of memories”; of her bossy elder brother in Building My Brother’s Sand Castle as, King Canute-like, he tried to hold back the incoming sea; in On the Centenary of My Teacups, memories “of mouths, people who sipped on roses, their lips figures of eight” and “stories lost, family lore, weddings, wakes, heart-to-hearts…”.

Clare Dyer’s  poems included one about her great-grandmother, Queenie – her grief at her child buried at sea; her rebellious grandmother in My Grandmother Played Tennis in 1916 – it was with her brother, “home on what will be his last last leave”; and her mother’s baking in The Memory Cake, including as ingredients not flour, butter, etc but all the favourite things of a seven-year-old. Though their styles are quite different, both held the audience in their grip from beginning to end.

Poet and potter, Colin Eveleigh, was a strong start at the open mic with his Red Dot.  His work was exhibited at the Petersfield Arts & Crafts exhibition and he described “making an exhibition of myself” –  telling of the anxiety to get red dots by each piece to show it’s been sold (all his sales proceeds go to charity).

Leah Cohen read two poems about Hiroshima, one serious: Hiroshima Hiroshima, – “Truman’s expensive new toy” – the other, Holiday in Hiroshima, humorous in a macabre, cynical way – “Well, here’s your one-way ticket, LITTLE BOY”.   She finished with a short poem, Words – “What harm can they do?”

Jilly Funnell followed with some musical nostalgia: Hello My Baby, a ragtime song from 1899 penned by Howard and Emerson; her poem Looking Back: My Thirties in the Eighties – “Gosh, was I in good condition” and, then, her song All the Way to America. There is something in the way music and poetry blend so well with each other.

Your reviewer read Typhoons and Hurricanes about the shock when the 1987 hurricane attacked “this green and pleasant land”; then Letter Writer, Letter Writer, about an unfriendly neighbour – “We met your family, they say: It’s you she talks about so much”.

Bruce Parry, who brought his music teacher with him, set up his trusty hammer dulcimer, for the lovely Gilbert and Sullivan’s When a Merry Maiden Marries, followed by a traditional Irish tune, My Own House. He then read his new poem, Time Immemorial – “Rest in peace my 1970’s wild!”  Julie Beaven, his teacher, who plays the Celtic harp (she constructed it herself) played My Love is Like a Red Red Rose and Greensleeves, followed by another Irish tune Shulearoon.  They completed the set with a lovely duet, Gentle Maiden. We’re hoping they return with some more music. The harp and dulcimer make a wonderful sound when played together.

Jake Claret