Sunday, December 17, 2017

'Twas the week before... Poems, songs, and wild wood pigeons

Frome Poetry Cafe last week was a midwinter word-fest of images and memories, thoughtful, fantastic, and mirthful. Our guest Robert Walton gave us two terrific sets from his new collection Sax Burglar Blues ~ one poem in particular, with the unlikely title Making a Herringbone Harris Tweed Garment, impressed the audience immensely with its evocation of a colour-filled fabric growing as 'the weaver wove from the yarn of weft and warp on the beam and loom.... ' And a great Open Mic too, from twelve poets all offering a different take on what this season means, from John Christopher Wood afflicted by Santa Claustrophobia, to more serious thoughts and even melancholy. The 'secret santa' gift recipients, chosen by Robert, were Linda Perry for a powerful poem about the winter sea in Cornwall and Rosie Finnegan for her clever pastiche 'Twas the Night Before Brexit ~ brilliantly performed too.

On Friday I finally got to see the Merlin pantomime, a quirky take on Hansel & Gretel written & directed by the truly awesome Claudia Pepler who seems to keep the theatre vibrant by a combination of tenacity and fairy dust, supported by volunteers & foyer sales on zero funding from Somerset or the Arts Council. That's a reason to buy tickets even if there were no other, but there's much to enjoy in this ensemble production full of song and comedy as well as wintry sorrow. Unlike the heavy-duty contemporising of the Old Vic's Little Matchgirl, this re-telling keeps us from the start in fairy-tale-land, but the dark fears and distress are all the more real for that. Some really inspired touches, like the ginger-bread children and the evil weasil, marvellous graphics by Howard Vause, and a super performance by the Grimm Brothers themselves ("Jake and Will - we are story-tellers", "or disrupters, if you will") as wood-pigeons both saving & confusing the lost children in the woods of their deepest dreads. Dillon Berry and Pete White surely have careers ahead on stage or screen. You can read the full review from Fine Times Recorder here. Images Dave Merritt.

This has been a hectic week but as it was mostly either work or seasonal private get-togethers ~ three writers' group meetings and the same number of parties ~ there's not much to post.  I'll finish with a picture from the final Nunney Acoustic Cafe of the year: a rousing rendition of Honky Tonk Woman from Frome musicians Paul Kirtley and Colin Ashley. Paul also sang a couple of the songs he's written about ideas in poems of mine, including a new one, and I did my current party piece, a new poem I have to read because I haven't learned it yet. It's a bit of a marmite one, I've found. Anyway, happy solstice all!

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