We’ve been having a bit of a poetry fest recently. Last week we had lunch with our friend Chrissie Gittins, writer and poet (http://www.chrissiegittins.co.uk/index.html) . A lot – though not all – of the poetry she writes is for children and I gave a copy of her book The Humpback’s Wail to my grand-daughter Jessica for her 8th birthday. She loved it. I got Chrissie to sign it and while Jess may not appreciate that now, I am sure she will later.
Chrissie does a lot of readings in schools and at poetry festivals and sometimes others read her work. Last April Carole Boyd (Linda Snell from The Archers) read Chrissie’s concrete children’s poem Gales of Laughter at the Wenlock Poetry Festival. You can see the performance on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIruWNidCwg and it’s only about a minute long so the toast won’t burn while you have a giggle.
Our second poet in seven days is Christopher James. We had a drink together in a local pub last night and he signed his latest poetry collection, England Under Water, for us. It is published by Templar Poetry (http://templarpoetry.com/collections/new-titles/products/england-underwater-by-christopher-james) and manages to be both enjoyable and thought-provoking, not always an easy combination. The title poem imagines an England drowned under the rising waters caused (presumably) by climate change. It’s never easy – or really fair to the poet – to quote part of a poem but I offer you the opening lines here:
They took us into sunken Albion, down shafts
of moonlight through forests of floating oak,
where the sandstone of Bath still glimmered
like bullion, thirsting for the sun. We shone
our mustard light on the signs of the old M1,
Stadiums rusted like bathtubs in the silt.
Crimson Cats has not published any titles completely dedicated to poetry but a number of our titles do include poems as part of the content. How To Own A Human, the anthology about cats, has a number of poems and verses about our feline friends, My Grandads And Afghanistan uses verses by Rudyard Kipling to illustrate the story of Britain’s previous involvement in that part of the world, and War Girls is a collection of poems and prose by women in the 1st World War.
One of my grandchildren asked me once: “Granddad, what is the reason for a poem?” I replied (she was only about 9 at the time) that it was a way of telling a story using rhythm and rhyme. I can still live with that explanation even though it’s not the full picture. I love poetry – especially when it is read aloud – but I don’t know how my love survived the crass way it was taught at my school – we went straight from The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens into Keats’ Hyperion, a leap of faith so huge as to challenge any literary Olympic jumper. But somehow the love survived and grew and we now have several shelves devoted to poetry books old and new.
I took the title of this Blog from the 1961 pop song Poetry In Motion sung, as I recall, by Bobby Vee. It was only after I had written it down that I wondered how many jokes about this title Andrew Motion had to endure when he was Poet Laureate. Ah, well, there was always the butt of sherry for compensation.