said John Hegley to Section E. Section E was two nice people selected because they wore spectacles. Sections A to D were whole corners of the very well-packed Sitting Room at the Blue Boar in Ludlow, but when their big moment came, the two members of Section E gave vent to their inner guillemot in style, bringing a wonderful night of poetry to a rampaging close.
Every two months I organise The Poetry Lounge in the Sitting Room, Ludlow’s open mic night with guest poets. It’s great fun. But last night we did excel ourselves, because we had not only the excellent poet Ian McEwen in town, but also Mr. John Hegley himself.
John read us poems about his grandmother, which teeter on the very brink between regret and celebration, he read poems about the great divide between spectacles and contact lenses, and generally delivered poems which carried the audience with him every joyful step of the way.
Ian McEwen gave us a set described later (by poet Steve Griffiths) as both playful and substantial – an exact and accurate phrase I can’t improve on. His Fridge poems, which were both thoughtful and surreal: ‘the light that is/and isn’t there’ – were hugely well received. He read us his National Poetry Competition prizewinning poem, the truly beautiful Our Lady of the Pylons.
… Her shadow
laid on corn, on tar, on earth,
is levering the sun around the earth,
to explain the hollow landscape,
and her faint construction-lines
are the gateways to a sky. Hum for us
Our Lady of the Pylons, hum for us
Ian finished his set by sending out his ‘poetry ninjas’ (oh, yes) to hand out copies of a poem for audience participation, ‘Fire’ ‘Fire’ Fire’ we all chanted happily.
As an audience we were also treated to some really fine performances from our Open Mic spot poets – it was just lovely to watch Nina Lewis’s rapport with her audience, hear Paul Francis’ honed sestina on Ian Duncan Smith, Graham Attenborough’s questioning on what we make poems for, Rob Harper on Arthur Smith’s difficulties in a newsagent’s queue, Meg Cox’s inimitable delivery of her Fuck poem, Miriam Obrey’s long weather-people poem and its riff on ‘Sumer is Icumen in’ and Claire Leavey, whose poem about displaced people created ‘the quietest quiet of the night’, said John Hegley afterwards.
Thank you everybody who came along, who performed, and thank you to Adam and all at The Blue Boar, who are so supportive and enthusiastic about The Poetry Lounge.