Three Devon Poets 10/10
One of the most apt places to hold a showcase of local poets must be the Central Library. This building, although recently renovated, was where many people discovered books and reading for the first time, myself included. The library also allows experienced readers to find something new and continue to discover.
The idea of discovering something new was certainly one that fitted with the Three Devon Poets, Frances Thompson, Jennie Osbourne and Jane Spiro. All three of the poets live in Devon and have recently released new collections.
Frances Corkey Thompson – Wild Gooseberries of Hailung
The first poet was Frances Corkey Thompson who started by admitting she wasn’t a ‘proper’ Devon poet, but she now lives here, so we’ll let her off. The collection Frances read from describes the journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway in search of the land her father loved. He was a missionary in China before the war, but could not stay there once the war had started.
The poems Frances read perfectly described the insignificance and sense of perspective that must be felt on such a long train journey. Works like The Changes and Salt powerfully portrayed the idea of a bigger picture. The poems we subtle, but beautiful, perfectly capturing the essence of human emotion. Other poems, Traveller Talk, played with the dynamics of bustling tourist hubs in China to the dumb-struck tourists when faced with the idea of going ‘north of Beijing’. Frances cleverly intertwined nostalgia, with references to the different times she and her father made the trip to China, like how her family were tracking her on ‘Google Earth’.
Her new work is entitled Wild Gooseberries of Hailung and has been submitted by her publisher, Indigo Dreams, to the TS Eliot Prize! You can buy it here http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/frances-corkey-thompson/4588994747
Jennie Osbourne – Colouring Outside the Lines
Jennie Osbourne was second and started by explaining how ‘not belonging’ and ‘searching for home’ was the theme that united the poems in her new collection, Colouring Outside the Lines. Jennie won the Kent and Sussex Poetry competition so her talent hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The reading started off with stories from childhood when everything was much simpler, it then moved into more adult and grown up territory with references to the sciences. The poetry seemed to raise questions about where humans belonged with regard to the planet and to other animals. One poem, Barn Owl, beautifully described a nighttime meeting with an owl and how it effortlessly flew by ‘letting go of gravity’. Not only is this a beautiful line about nature, but it adds a logical and rational dimension to the poem. The reading ended with a return Exponential, Offensive and Porridge.
Colouring Outside the Lines is published by Oversteps Books. What really came across from Jennie was the idea that home is where you fit in, humans call earth home but so do many other creatures. Do we owe nature more respect, after all, are there any Safe Places for the Bees?
Jane Spiro – Playing for Time
Jane Spiro splits her time between Totnes and Oxford and between a love of language and a love of music. Her latest work, Playing for Time, describes taking her father back to where he grew up in Poland. Her father wanted not to visit the places he grew up, but the places he was forbidden to go due to being Jewish.
Playing for Time, Forbidden City and Grandfather with Glass all beautifully illustrated how important family is. There was an overriding sense of legacy and the impact that the past can have on today. Jane explained how her Grandfathers Stained-glass windows are still in use and how the ‘magic glints through glass’. Throughout her work were allusions to music which acted as a powerful channel for her emotions. Everyone seemed to have there own music and their own song to sing.
From watching Jane read her poems there is a great honesty which intensifies the haunting, but moving, nature of her work. If you did not see her live you can buy her latest work, Playing for Time, which is published by Oversteps Books here http://www.overstepsbooks.com/cat/playing-for-time/
It was fantastic to hear three different, local poets in one night. They all spoke on different topics in different ways, but you could see patterns emerging. This added to and enhanced the sense of community that was sure to be achieved by naming the event ‘Devon Poets’. It was also inspiring to hear how original and moving the poetry was as you never think great poets like these live in the same town as you. If you weren’t able to come, I suggest you take the next opportunity to. I am sure you will be met with a range of new perspectives as well as well crafted verse.