Meeting Notes 2009

Workshop Session

Rose led a convivial evening in which nine poems were brought along for constructive criticism. The discussion was lively and focussed. Inspiration for the poems came from various sources including a "Round Robin" letter, a Christmas cactus and a conversation overheard on a station platform.

5th January 2009

Prose Poetry

Prose Poetry
26th January 2009


Ekphrasis comes from ek (out) and phrasis (speak), the verb ekphrasein meaning to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name. Although it can now refer to any work of art created in response to a work in another art form, the word was originally and is now mainly applied to 'poetry that continues the work of translation an art work (visual art) began' (Tim Liardet).

Turner claimed that poetry and painting spring from the same font and there seems to be an intrinsic relationship between these two art forms. Poems have been written from paintings across the whole range of subject matter; mythological, Christian, landscape, portrait, interior, still life, abstract, surreal etc. Some poems are about individual paintings while others seek to capture the essence of the whole output of a particular painter. Rather than being mere descriptions, most of the poems treat the paintings as ways for the poet to explore and express their own particular experience and voice. Poems can also be written in a way that echo the style of a painter. In some cases prior acquaintance with the artwork that is the focus can considerably help appreciation of the poem but in others this does not apply at all.

Ekphrasis has been around since Homer in the Iliad first described the shield of Achilles and recently there has been a proliferation of this way of engendering a poem both among writers and also in education.

23rd February 2009

After the first draft…

After the first draft... Marilyn led an interesting and lively discussion on where good feedback can be found.

The Poetry Society offers a service called Poetry Prescription which gives anonymous feedback from a team of poets. A thought-provoking form is provided to be completed and sent in with your poems together with a fee of about £40. A detailed critique of the poems is then sent to you. The Poetry School offers a similar service.

Local workshops offer opportunity for feedback.

Arvon courses are structured to give plenty of opportunity for feedback over the course of a week.

The Poetry School organises workshops and seminars which are a good source of feedback.

The Troubadour Café also runs poetry events.

Emerson College organises Poetry Otherwise.

A longer term option is to enrol on a Creative Writing course – for example at the Open University, or the MA at East Anglia and at Royal Holloway College, or the MPhil at Glamorgan.

And of course one good way of absorbing poetry and so enabling the giving of feedback is to read as much as possible!

Publication of poetry gives validation, completion, affirmation – send out those poems to magazines!

30th March 2009

Workshop Session

John led an interesting workshop session in which nine poems were brought for constructive criticism. These ranged from medieval ballad with space aliens twist to a stark look at Golden Gate Bridge to a consideration of penguins to a meditative four-stanza poem sparked off by a Three Nuns tobacco tin.

27th April 2009

Robert Frost

Robert Frost.

1st June 2009

Poems of War and Peace

Poems of War and Peace.

29th June 2009

Postponed until 30th Nov

Unfortunately John Lemmon was indisposed and unable to attend.

The format and title of the forthcoming Mole Valley Poets anthology was discussed. Plans for the Arts Alive festival were fine-tuned. The workshop session was extended and feedback was given on several poems.

27th July 2009

Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan.

7th September 2009

Dream Poetry

Dream Poetry.

28th September 2009

Poetry Pub

Poetry Pub 2009 in the Lincoln Arms, Dorking, was well attended and proved to be an enjoyable and convivial evening.

Each reader had the opportunity to read two or three of their own poems both before and after the interval. The poetry ranged from haiku to free verse and from serious to humorous.

The Mole Valley Poets' Anthology 2009 was available for sale and some poems from this anthology were read during the evening.

5th October 2009

Sofa Poet

The Sofa Poet event was held in the conference room at the Lincoln Arms, Dorking.

Mario Petrucci was the Sofa Poet for the evening. He read from his own work - in particular from his collections Flowers of Sulphur and Heavy Water. He talked of the influences that were behind the poems and of the geometry of experience.

Mario Petrucci talked of poeclectics as being a way of using more than one voice in poetry as distinct from using and developing one's own singular voice. He described this greater flexibility of outlook as the valency of voice. Translation of another person's work could be seen as being at one end of the spectrum and singularity of voice at the other end. The modulation and choosing of a voice could be within those boundaries.

Mario Petrucci led the group in writing exercises. One of these involved each person being given a quotation and writing in response to the reaction provoked - using the sentence as a springboard, rejecting the sentence altogether, making the sentence part of the writing etc.

Another exercise took the form of describing an ordinary everyday object in straightforward terms and then giving the description a title chosen from a list of abstract nouns which had been drawn up by group participation at the start of the exercise. In many cases this quite transformed the writing from a dull factual account into the beginnings of a poem.

There was opportunity for questions and discussion in which everyone was able to take part. The evening was full of inspiration and enjoyment.

21st October 2009

The Confessional Dead-end

John Lemmon, a visiting speaker, discussed the theme of intertextuality whereby one poem explicitly refers to another. In addition he considered the more experimental contemporary poetry and raised the question of how to distinguish a poem from prose on hearing the work read aloud.

John introduced a close reading of Ted Hughes' The Thought Fox which was written in the 1950's. In this poem a fox is conjured up from nowhere and is as real to the senses as any actual fox. Ted Hughes provides tension and theatre while allowing a resonance in the reader.

The more recent poem Fox by Brian Cox was then considered. In this work, both the Ted Hughes poem and reference to Ted Hughes' descriptions of the violence in nature take central place. A point is being made and the work seems to have no emotional temperature. The thought fox has been borrowed as in an 18th century piece of writing where wit is prised above emotion.

Listenability is important if poetry is to be accessible. In addition it is necessary to write for the time in which we live.

Maybe a poem is something that happens to you - as both writer and reader.

30th November 2009