8 September 2018. Cheltenham offers lots of opportunities for writers to develop their poetic art, and the beginning of this week showed that brilliantly. Saturday brought a fruitful workshop with distinguished poet Anna Saunders, Executive Director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Her theme in poetry about fearful or disturbing events on the world stage linked through images to everyday life. My poem ‘Absolute Balderdash Rules’ sprang from that session.
Next day came Buzzwords, which for 12 years has provided a monthly combination of workshop and open microphone, led by top-class visiting poets. As usual, Angela France, founder and presenter, introduced the guest poets.
Ross Cogan, Creative Director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival, introduced a interesting workshop which focussed on using myths, ancient or modern, as writing inspiration. During the readings which followed, he read from his latest book Bragr.
A reinterpretation of Norse mythology, Bragr shows the world and beyond from a sophisticated twenty-first century viewpoint. It exbibits an environmental awareness that melds mythology about nature and human origin with science. Its wealth of imagary fully justifies the back-cover description: ‘As precise and beautiful as an illustrated manuscript. . .’ An example is ‘Bees swarming’:
‘. . . This is older,
cruder, moved by the same power
that fires planets in a star’s kiln.
A galaxy is being spun. . .
. . . This is.
the whirlwind that conceals Zeus. . .’
Ross shared his two reading time with Alison Brackenbury who introduced her latest book, Aunt Margaret’s Pudding. I readily identify with the book, as my grandmother was a wonderful cook and inspiring presence as was Dot, Alison’s grandmother. Dot’s recipes inspired the book, which includes some of them with Alison’s updating where appropriate for the twenty-first century. These are interleaved with poems which form an intriguing time machine bringing alive Alison’s memories of her grandparents and her Lincolnshire early life.
Here is a good podcast of Alison reading her poetry, recorded in February 2018: DIVERSIFLY podcast #4: Alison Brackenbury.