On this week’s podcast Sally Festing discusses her latest collection My Darling Derry. It’s a sequence of poems based on an archive of Sally’s father’s letters and diaries which she inherited 20 years after he died. It explores the impact of mental illness on her family which led her father, the neuroscientist Derek Richter, to establish the Mental Health Foundation.
Here is a poem from the collection.
A Poetry of Release with a debt to WS Graham
My father’s efforts ran unhindered as the rain.
Those dearest to him from childhood
gone, he thought grief a gift he should earn.
There’s relatively little words can do for grief
but what else did he have?
There were, he knew, huge worlds to share. Explore.
Let this poem be a still thing, a mountain
constructed from glass. I begin with
the ghost of an intension which blasts itself
to nurture a new collision.
Perhaps the shape of us – the wreckage,
the shame and the dance – is in our language.
This week’s podcast guest is Julia Webb. Here is a poem from her second collection Threat published by Nine Arches Press.
She was a biscuit barrel or barrel shaped at least
as he kept reminding her the bucket he kicked splashed lemony water up the wall her face a crumpled tissue on the floor the dog was whining outside the locked back door the TV was querulous and mundane the shopping was waiting to be packed away the kettle was whistling on the stove a child was shuffling on their bottom down the stairs
She was a biscuit barrel though whether empty or full was unclear he was a barrel full of vinegary homemade beer his contents leaking out across the floor a child had shuffled down the stairs and let the dog in in the other room the TV blared the shopping was defrosting in the pushchair’s tray the kettle was still whistling on the stove
She was a biscuit barrel mopping the kitchen floor he was cursing the kettle and the dog shouting through to turn the TV off or else his mood was vinegary and cold the shopping was scattered across the floor the dog was whining in the hall a child was crying in the downstairs loo the house was quarrelsome and sly
I closed roads to cars leading into my heart and have found more space for couples to stroll and kids to mark the streets with chalk birds and lions. The number of people whispering secrets has also increased three-fold, but that may be from more people meeting without needing to not pause. I may begin closing my heart’s skies to plane traffic, just because I’d like to hear the sun’s motors whirring again.
The final guest of the first series of the Poetry Non-Stop podcast is Alex Russell, an imaginative and often unpredictable poet and performer in Norwich. He will be discussing some of his innovative works and how you can use poetry to make a living. Here he is in action at The Bird Cage in Norwich.
This week’s guest is Avouleance who talks about creativity and living with autism. This is a poem they wrote in about 20 minutes during a writing group I run. If you’re a writer based in or near Norwich you can get details here. You can find out more about Avouleance here.
There’s a better me Full of energy That I’ve abandoned Not intentionally but automatically Now I’m less bright eyed Less blind But I’d leave all I’ve learnt behind To be a fraction as kind Or inclined to look up.
This week Jenny Pagdin talks about the inexpressible in poetry and her experiences of post-natal psychosis which she explores in her pamphlet Caldbeck. Here she responds to the poetry prompt set by Jamie Osborn in the first episode to write a poem on borders and intimacy. Please submit your own response to this and other prompts on the podcast here.
When I crossed your border I ought to have held your language – tactile and direct – on my unwieldy tongue.
and when I edged onto your landlocked patch I should have offered you something for your integrity.
And those nights you lay drifting, permeable, I ought to have carried you through the crowd of voices like an untuned radio in the dark.