Host Antony Owen, and sometime host Barry Patterson who was in the audience, do much to promote the poetic cause in Coventry as the context of this evening demonstrated. The night before had seen the launch of Tony’s Hiroshima Haiku exhibition at Coventry Cathedral, the following week two poets are to be sent to Cork as part of an ongoing cultural exchange.
The haiku exhibition is a contemporary fusion of eleven Haiku by Tony and photography by Daniel O’Toole to commemorate the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The exhibition runs from 3rd August to 31st August . The launch was attended by representatives of Hiroshima and Coventry Lord Mayor’s department for peace and reconciliation. There are several associated displays such as artwork from survivors recollections of Hiroshima .The Chapel of Unity , where the exhibition rests, is to the left as you enter through the main doors into the Cathedral.
War poetry is an awkward genre. The prolonged presence of British service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade means that civilian domestic awareness of war is particularly heightened. Yet the grisly mechanics of war and the attritional politics of it are matters that most choose not to dwell upon. Tony is as good a contemporary war poet as I have heard. Fat Man, about Churchill’s role in the bombing campaign evokes conflicting emotions in me , which is the point, and is one of Tony’s very best, cleverly juxtaposed this evening against Apathy, a poem of remembrance with its beautiful rhymes.
Night Blue Fruit’s two Cork delegates are Jayne Stanton and Janet Smith who both performed extended warm up sets for their readings next week. Janet’s poems offer the precision of the eye of a jeweller assembling a piece , with the lustre and glow that the buyer subsequently beholds. Scorify, Egg and Brushfoot enthralled, A Cry, The Hooded Children and Pacific were warmly received old friends. Jayne is particularly strong at light, assured reminiscence. Whether it is a 1960’s clothes dryer or a much loved grandmother, a warm glow surrounds her writing. She also showed herself adept at war writing too with her contribution to the Hiroshima theme, Black Orchids. We all look forwards to the results of the poetic inspiration which their visit to the Emerald isle will surely fire.
Young Irish poet David Lynch entertained with his punchy poems of the everyday, of which Doing the Dishes was my favourite. Barry Patterson also name checked Hiroshima with his piece on the Amchitka island, Alaska nuclear tests at which a bomb 385 times more powerful than the Hiroshima explosion was detonated . The counterpoint with his closing The Sky is Not an Atmosphere was probably unintentional. Staffordshire Poet Laureate short lister Tom Wyre followed the war theme with a familiar set, and customary aplomb, before Diane Hart recited a clever piece on Lady Godiva, clothed. Colin Dick wrapped the night up with an episodic epic of Spenserian proportion.
Night Blue Fruit next meets on Tuesday 4th September at 8pm, free in.
Gary Longden 7/8/12