Ruth Padel meets poets from East Suffolk to work on some poems in progress. Testing and revising as they go, in a spirit of supportive criticism. Tough love for poems.
Poetry Workshops are gathering all over the country. In the back rooms of pubs, in libraries and in front rooms, poets meet to hone their craft and sharpen their verse.
Ruth and the group work on three very different poems on the theme of 'darkness' - poems that evoke mystery, longing and sadness. In the process they consider the pros and cons of abstractions and the effective use of titles in a poem. The group are ruthless yet supportive as they chuck out words and redraft; listening, pruning and testing their work as they go.
The group discuss the techniques, inspiration, wordplay and imagination that make poetry so enjoyable and rewarding. As well as working on their own poems, the group consider a poem by Lavinia Greenlaw called 'Night Photograph.'
Producer: Sarah Langan.
Lies, Damned Lies and Alzheimer's by Richard Whiting
You are in the dark;
and whatever it takes
we will keep you there,
against our will.
We have black-out curtains
to block stray light,
moments when we play along
with your midnight words.
The danger comes
flashing across your memory,
illuminating your despair
when you seem to know
that the world
has draped you
in its shadow.
These brief moments,
leave you lonely in their wake
whilst we, the enlightened,
pray for night.
Darkness by Florence Cox
The moon is a low pink swingboat
scooping its way through the racing clouds.
Hail calls at my window
with its hurled handfuls of grit.
I would like love, not this cold caller,
to come tapping at my window.
I have laid out my loneliness tonight
like a street vendor with nothing to lose,
voice lost in the whirling of indifferent crowds.
I want to be held close under the swingboat moon
till my sluggish juices run again
and my heart rushes to meet
a fuller life.
But the old pine
is snagging the moon in its arms,
tossing its head indignantly,
flinging down showers of needles
to prick and criss-cross
the dark, obdurate earth.
The Progress by Dean Parkin
The mess, the waste, the jumble, the endless
hassles and glitches, the phased or fizzled out,
the fretting, the punctured, the doubts, the anguish,
the entire dismal pug-ugly business. From this
out of something like a front door
a man. The morning
must be early or winter and still dark, but he is here
out the gate, from the wretched
not exactly awake but a start,
showered, shaved and nicked, awoken
nobody, not yet spoken, relieved at the slow progress –
the milk float, the zigzag of a paperboy
though the light our man makes now
is not match to cigarette
but the screen of a phone which he checks and taps,
the blue dot on a satellite map moving on foot
onwards from one bleak mood to this –
feels a little fresh, he says
to no-one but himself
under his breath, a release.