This week poet and artist Wesley Freeman-Smith talks about recent projects and the works he has created and curated through collaboration with artists working across a variety of discipline. His latest project Catching Shadows sees him sharing his poetry for the first time on a series of spoken word tracks accompanied by music from Leipzig-based experimental pop artist Anna SchuSchu with production from fellow Leipzig-based musician Theresa Elflein. The three artists shared recordings back and forth across the border ‘like pass the parcel’. You can listen to the results on debut EP Fuse now.
Coming up this week Luke Wright looks back on 20 years in the poetry business from discovering spoken word through a love of Blur and seeing Ross Sutherland and John Cooper Clarke perform to taking his own shows to Edinburgh and around the world. Here’s Luke in action showing his lyrical skills with a univocalism – a poem written using only one vowel, in this case O.
Coming up this week Michael Brown talks about ekphrastic poetry and reads from his upcoming collection Meet Me at the Harbour.
Here is a poem inspired by an exhibit in the Queer British Art at Tate Britain exhibition.
for Richard Chopping and Denis Worth Miller
Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Local legend has it
that every time a soldier pays a ‘visit’
they collect from him a button
stored in an old Christmas biscuit tin.
Bohemia round here is like
a fat man with eyebrows like furry caterpillars and an oily voice
so Richard said on the phone to Francis Bacon.
Denis was a cute little button
he’d spend his days painting boys down at the cruising ground.
They invited me to their house in Cornwall
and I spent summer writing poems in the harbour
and undoing many buttons.
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
Julia Webb (from Threat, Nine Arches Press, 2019)
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
secrets has also increased
three-fold, but that may be
from more people meeting
without needing to not
I may begin closing
my heart’s skies
to plane traffic, just
because I’d like to
hear the sun’s motors
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.