Esme Ellis hosted the launch of her latest book Dreaming Worlds Awake at her Combe Down home on Sunday, providing warm hospitality as well as a fascinating insight into the creative journey of this reflection on synchronicity in our lives. For me it was also a chance to catch up with some Bath & Bristol writer friends & hear some great poetry - here's Skip reading a piece inspired by Brian Patten. A sculpture student in the crucible 1950s, Esme remembers furore over Epstein's 'obscene, brutish' works: Jacob, assaulted by an angel in this 1940 alabaster piece, is one of the voices in her book and Esme also includes a poem I wrote at the same time, without knowing about her reflections.
Jacob meets the angel
I didn’t know what to expect – well, would you?
An angel descending suddenly, heavily,
wings like tombstones, dishevelled hair, staring eyes.
A gargoyle on acid he looked, this heavenly apparition.
He swung like a wrecking ball towards me,
clung to me, clouting my thigh. I almost fell, and he held me,
his stony arms grasping, his huge legs buckled under me.
I should have felt pain, but I didn’t. I felt sustained.
It was what I had always wanted. Maimed, and claimed.
Poetry & a Pint at St James' Vault on Monday night found itself in scheduling conflict with the opening of Bristol Poetry Festival, but Stroud poet Adam Horovitz validated my channel choice with readings from his new book Turning. His poems are both tender and shrewd: they delicately normalise the raw painfulness of life and loss, Carol Ann Duffy, who puts things better than me, reviewed this collection as 'physical language of scrupulous integrity'.
Back in Frome, for crouching theatre, hidden talent... Nevertheless Productions pounces once again in November with a performance with the working title Agony Ecstasy and Gin Sling - ok that will change - which will introduce Lady Philadelphia de Courcey to an unsuspecting audience. Let's hope everyone's ready...
Finally: Art with attitude at the Silk Mill gallery: ecological attitudes and sexual politics tersely challenged in a surprisingly alluring exhibition, on till 25th September. Recommended.