This Parole Parlate special was billed as a “Best of” the years performers, and sure enough the year’s poetic troubadours turned out in force to celebrate, and support, Worcestershire’s longest running Poetry event. A triumvirate of Poet Laureates were on show from different eras, and counties. Pride of place must go to the newest laureate, Maggie Doyle, who was crowned Worcestershire Poet Laureate at a Worcester Literary Festival ceremony last Friday, and was positively beaming, and rightly so. Not only has she put in the hard yards across the Midlands but she has also been involved in the pioneering Decadent Divas, and continues to be an active member of poetry collective, “Write Down Speak Up”. She is going to be a busy girl!
Maggie will undoubtedly be a popular choice. Tonight she gave us self-deprecating humour about slimming in A Certain Type of Loss, she risked the wrath of Her Majesty with Duty Calls, a humorous tale of errant corgis, but showed her serious writing side with Diamonds, which was neat, poignant, and satisfying.
Current Birmingham Poet Laureate Jan Watts is in the latter stages of her year and is clearly relishing it, and making the most of every opportunity. It is her versatility which impresses, whether it is a vignette about an officious Greek Hotelier, or her re-imagining a Lunar Society meeting with women rather than men. Everyday tasks such as cleaning do not escape her poetic pen, and she has a pantoum for every day and occasion. She has blazed a trail for female laureates , Maggie will I am sure be examining the ingredients which have made Jan’s year such a success. Oh, and she did that poem about supermarkets……………….
Past Birmingham Poet Laureate Julie Boden was making a welcome appearance celebrating her inclusion in Seven Leaves, One Autumn, by Indian Publisher, Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt. Ltd. This is a typically shred move by Julie, why restrict yourself to the English market, when there is a population of one billion people to go for in India? All the poems are written in English, other contributors come from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Spain and the USA. Eight of her poems were included in the collection , she read four, all of which shone as worthy contributions to the book, and which deservedly represent England. She should be proud. We all had a warm feeling of shared pride for her.
Julie also featured in a choral ensemble which wrote and performed in the day, a poem inspired by Worcester, accompanied by Sarah James, Lindsay Stanberry Flynn, Maggie Doyle and workshop leader, David Calcutt. Unsurprisingly with that talent, it was rather good, and served as a reminder to all poets of how much can be achieved in relatively little time if you put your mind to it.
Typically, the balance of the bill was wildly eclectic. Al Barz was accompanied by his keyboard for the crowd pleasing Leonora, Amy Rainbow was joined by a bloke in a jacket as she waltzed through Words and Oats with her customary aplomb and a rather sexy faux Brummie accent for the latter poem. Mo the Peoples’ Nun talked a lot about God, whilst Chardonnay Jade, just seventeen years old,held her own against some very experienced company. She wrote with endearing honesty and wit, and I look forwards to hearing more of her. Suz Winspear appeared in her Gothic splendour to perform her now accomplished well oiled set, and fellow regular Chris Kingsley told of Muppets, in an amusing duo.
Opening the evening was Dori Kirchmair performing Resonance,a short story about connecting with what resonates with you, what feels truly right for you; where you align with your self – your own truth. This was illustrated by three pictures which appeared to show a Japanese flag defaced by a cats claw mark, a wobbly tyre tread, and some threads of cotton, respectively. Unfortunately none of these images resonated with me, leaving me feeling somewhat disconnected , which in a piece about connection, was a problem. I think that I need to hear it again. Nevertheless it made its contribution to a night of content which was as varied as it was enjoyable.
Lisa Ventura hosted with tact, grace and a staedy hand on the tiller. Parole Parlate returns on July 5th, the Worcester Literary Festival closes on Sunday 24th.
Parole Parlate photographs taken by, and used with kind permission of, Geoff Robinson
Gary Longden 22/6/12