Monday, February 20, 2017

Poetry, mostly... with spring in the air & a bit of art

I have no image of Monday's magnificent Frome Poetry Cafe sadly ~ it was simply too incredibly busy for photos so I'll leave you to imagine the wondrous sight of the Garden Cafe absolutely crammed for an evening of fantastic love poems in various styles including mime, song, and thumb-piano. Bristol bardic quartet The Spoke ~ Bob Walton, Elizabeth Parker, Paul Deaton and Claire Williamson ~ shared passions for people and places and even lasagne, rhubarb, and starlings.  An even wider range of moods came from the superb open-mic poets: witty, reflective, cynical, erotic, political, poignant, surreal and historical ~ I could go on & make it a list poem, but we had one of those too, alphabetically. The poetry book donated by Hunting Raven Books for the most appreciated poem of the night went to David Glasman for his moving and beautifully-crafted 'Love poem to life' after surviving a heart attack. An evening of magic & mirth & wild imaginings.
And there'll be another session of lyrical delights in Frome next month when Merlin Theatre hosts the Poetry Platter, at which I'll be joined by five outstanding performance poets: hugely popular Liv Tork and Chris Redmond from the Hip Yack Poetry Shack, Hannah Teasdale (one of our favourite Cafe guests), Bristol stand-up Buddy Carson, and hi-impact rapper Jake XJX Hight. Could there be any more compelling reason to book right now? you may be wondering, and there is: you don't have to sit passively in a dark auditorium, instead you share the stage with the performers, with wine and tapas platters, and the whole package ~ poets, supper, and esoteric experience ~ costs just over a tenner. Wow. March 16th. Plan your trip to Frome and be there to tell your great-grandchildren!

February 14 is traditionally the day M&S charges £25 for a bunch of roses and the famous Valentine lamp on Catherine Hill is lit by its protector Reg Ling, who found and restored this piece of Victoriana some years ago. The ritual is opened by the town cryer and accompanied by free mulled wine so it always draws a small crowd ~ this year there was a Points West TV team too.  Reg is a great showman, arriving in traditional attire and giving a commentary on the four stages of lighting a gas lamp. It's all delightful fun and a bit like being in an episode of Trumpton ~ The lamplighter seems to be in trouble - it's taking an awful lot of clicks to light the lamp. Oh look, the lamp has lighted! Well done, lamplighter, now the lamp is lit! Everybody cheers the lamplighter.

Wednesday's Roots Session at the Grain Bar featured Clayton Denwood and his band ~ folk rock with echoes of Bob Dylan, fabulous music and terrific lyrics too. And the really big musical event was Griff's Big Night Out, Saturday's party to celebrate the life of much-missed Griff Daniels. I know it was a stonkingly wonderful unforgettable gem of a night but you'll need to go to Griff's page LINK pictures as  I was in Dublin for the weekend, missing also the Snowdrop Festival in Shepton Mallet and the Frome Tattoo Convention in Frome. So here instead is a picture of snowdrops in Mells last week, and a snap from a previous tattoo festival. Normal service will be resumed next week.

My trip was a reunion with a friend from our student days at Trinity. Our catchup included walks by Howth pier,  a lunch with Irish poet Rory Brennan ~ also a college friend ~ and a visit to the National Gallery of Ireland to see the splendid Beyond Caravaggio exhibition, so titled because most of the paintings featured are by 'Caravaggisti': other artists, working in his style.  Caravaggio's personal life was apparently violent and chaotic but these paintings plangent with tenderness as well as vivid story-telling and dramatic lighting. After Caravaggio's (unexplained) death his significant influence wasn't acknowledged until the 20th century. He's now seen as the founder of modern painting and in fact of these images have the impact of a stills grabbed from a movie.

This is Dutch Caravagesque painter Dirck van Baburen imagining the meeting of Tobias and the Angel ~ among the quieter pictures but one I really loved ~ and the famous Supper at Emmaus by the master himself. Synchronicitously, this painting is referenced in Rory's new book Dancing with Luck by the artist Rafael Mahdavi, whose paintings are published alongside the sonnets, who says I feel my pores tingle... Art needs to generate meaning, it is only worthwhile if it is shared, and it should leave people speechless.

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