A few weeks ago, in one of the posts I did as Kirklees writer-in-residence (also reblogged here), I talked about the Poetry Days held at Huddersfield University on the first Saturday of every month. I let slip there that the Poetry Day group was in the process of producing an anthology, In the Company of Poets. I’m starting to get very excited now about the fact that it is going to be launched on 5 March in Huddersfield Library, as part of the Huddersfield Literature Festival!
This is an anthology with a difference, in that every poem it contains was begun at one of the Poetry Days and thus inspired, directly or indirectly, by one of the many great poets we have studied at these events. These range from Homer and Sappho, through Donne and Shakespeare, Keats and Emily Dickinson to modern writers such as Sharon Olds and Simon Armitage. Studying these poets stimulated us to write in many different ways. The starting point might be some aspect of the chosen poet’s life; a theme that features in their work (perhaps just a single poem); or a particular form or style that they are associated with. Sometimes it is just a single image, or even a single word, that sets someone off in a new direction that will eventually result in a poem. There is nothing like being immersed in poetry for a couple of hours to get your own creative juices flowing! The anthology showcases some of the best work that has emerged from these sessions, from sixteen members of the group including established poets such as Alison Lock and Elspeth Smith. I guess I’m biased, but I think it’s really good!
But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you live within range of Huddersfield, why not come along to the launch – 1pm on 5 March in Huddersfield library. It’s free, and if you like what hear, you can pick up a copy of the anthology (normally £6.99) for a fiver! Earlier in the day you can also get a taste of Poetry Day, at a workshop on the poetry of Shakespeare at 9.30 in Room HWG 06, Harold Wilson building, Huddersfield University (also free). All are welcome, from beginners to experienced poets.
I guess I should leave you with a taster of the anthology. This poem came out of a Poetry Day session on Sharon Olds. It was not directly inspired or influenced by any particular poem of hers, but her poems about her father made me think of my own, and in particular the black depressions he frequently suffered when I was a teenager.
He carried a cloud with him, so thick
that if we tried to pierce it
with little spears of laughter
they came back blunted, broken.
There was no evading it.
Inside that house
the cloud pervaded everything:
made raindrops on my mother’s cheeks,
brought shadows into sunlit space.
We crept around as if through fog,
afraid of what we might stumble into,
or hid from it in upstairs rooms
that slowly filled with cloudlets of our own.
If he went out, the cloud and I would follow.
There was a hill on which, after a while
you might just see a little sun upon his face.
There is nothing like the wind, for shifting clouds.
[ First published in The Lake, December 2015. ]