Collective: Eight Poets and Eight New Poetry Collections

Poet Tracy Rhys

Tracy Rhys

What’s the collective noun for poets? Perhaps ‘a plethora of poets’, or ‘a stanza of poets’? My own favourite is ‘a pub-full of poets’ (they tend to gather in pubs). Whatever the word, we had eight of them reading their work at this new event, entitled ‘Collective’, organised by Christina Thatcher (whose own debut collection will be published in 2017). It was not held in a pub, for once, but in the retro café / bar Little Man Coffee Company, on a night so foggy that Sherlock Holmes would have felt very much at home…   

The evening was split into two halves. We heard from four poets with collections out this year, followed by a “sneak preview” of four collections due to be published next year. Mab Jones started us off with some incredible offerings from her collection take your experience and peel it. The title is taken from the first poem in the book, which came to her in a dream.

Rhys Milsom

Rhys Milsom

Mark Blayney read from his new collection Loud Music Makes You Drive Faster, including one or two poems about his young son, who was not present, he explained, “because he tends to heckle”. His poem ‘Travelling Around Britain’ is a list of place names, made hilarious by their placement alongside each other, and the fact that it was read out quite soberly, rather like the shipping forecast with hidden meanings.

Tracy Rhys introduced her work as “semi-depressing”, but her poems are rich and powerful, many of them written about her son, who has autism. Her pamphlet Teaching a Bird to Sing was published earlier this year by Green Bottle Press.

Rhys Milsom bridged the gap between the two sections, by reading to us from his first collection Amnesia, and his new collection Transition, due to be published on 16th December. His poems also focus on family relationships, and I particularly liked the one about his daughter’s birth, with images of morning sickness as “poison” and the baby “kicking, punching, preparing” for life outside the womb.

Natalie Ann Holborow

Natalie Ann Holborow

After a short break, Susie Wild introduced us to her forthcoming collection Better Houses, which will be published in September next year. The title, she explained, comes from her German Duolingo course, which includes some odd phrases to help you learn the language. But it is also a reference to the fact that she’s moved around a lot during her life, which is a theme that runs through the collection.

Rebecca Parfitt followed her with some unnerving, evocative poetry about broken relationships, including a poem entitled ‘Fragments’, with powerful lines which eclipsed each other with their impact. Her collection The Days After is due to be published early in 2017 by Listen Softly London Press.

Emily Blewitt

Emily Blewitt

Natalie Ann Holborow read to us from her forthcoming collection And Suddenly You Find Yourself, due to be published by Parthian in the Spring. Her poems are vivid and tangible, and I particularly liked her mythology poems, about Penelope, Achilles and Medea.

Finally, we heard from Emily Blewitt, whose debut collection This Is Not A Rescue will be published by Seren in April. She read us a few love poems, then contrasted these with a Star Wars poem about Boba Fett and the Sarlacc. Her collection also contains some  moving, darker poems, on topics such as sexual abuse.

This was an evening of quality words and extraordinary imagery, with a chance to celebrate some of the best poetry of this year and catch a tantalising glimpse of what’s to come. I’m sure the event will be back next year with more incredible new work.

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  1. Pingback: Regular Literary, Creative Writing and Performance Poetry Events in Cardiff

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