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27th Aug 2017


Several New people, attracted by our posters and The Post, showed up to WA's August event, featuring Claire Booker and Claire Dyer. As it was warm in the upstairs room at The Townhouse, the opened windows admitted the noise of traffic, police sirens and revellers spilling out of the downstairs bar but in spite of that, the audience seemed well tuned to the of music and poetry that filled the evening.

Although the two Claires were booked together, they do perform separately and each is a strong, headline performer in her own right. 

Coincidentally, there was an unplanned element of nostalgia, within the 29 poems read and performed by Claire Dyer, and Claire Booker which seemed to somehow continue with the open mikers.

Claire Booker started with a beguiling poem of her 'First Kiss' – 'you are seven, I am six'; about her father suffering from dementia in 'Visiting My Father' – this is full of gaps, like his mind with occasional 'bright berries of memories'; of her bossy elder brother in 'Building My Brother's Sand Castle' as, King Canute-like, he tried to hold back the incoming sea; in 'On the Centenary of My Teacups', memories 'of mouths, people who sipped on roses, their lips figures of eight,' and 'stories lost, family lore, weddings, wakes, heart-to-hearts...'. 

Clare Dyer's poems included one about her great-grandmother, 'Queenie' – her grief at her child buried at sea; her rebellious grandmother in 'My Grandmother Played Tennis in 1916 – it was with her brother, 'home on what will be his last last leave; and her mother's baking in 'The Memory Cake', including as ingredients not flour, butter, etc but all the favourite things of a seven year old. Though their styles are quite different, both held the audience in their grip from beginning to end. 

Poet and potter, Colin Eveleigh was a strong start at the open mic with his 'Red Dot'. His work is to be exhibited at the local Arts & crafts exhibition – 'making an exhibition of myself' – telling of the anxiety to get red dots by each piece to show it's been sold (all his sales proceeds go to charity). Leah read two poems about Hiroshima, one serious: 'Hiroshima Hiroshima' , - 'Truman's expensive new toy' - the other, 'Holiday in Hiroshima', humorous in a macabre,cynical way – 'Well, here's your one-way ticket, LITTLE BOY.' She finished with a short poem, 'Words' – 'What harm can they do?'

Jilly Funnell followed with some musical nostalgia, ‘Hello My Baby’, ragtime song from 1899 penned by Howard and Emerson, her poem ‘Looking Back: My Thirties in the Eighties’ - Gosh, was I in good condition' and, then, her song ‘All the Way to America’. There is something in the way music and poetry blend so well with each other.

Your reviewer read 'Typhoons and Hurricanes' about his shock when the 1987 hurricane attacked 'this green and pleasant land'; then 'Letter Writer, Letter Writer', about an unfriendly neighbour – 'We met your family, they say: It's you she talks about so much'.

Bruce Parry, who brought his music teacher with him, set up his trusty hammer dulcimer, for the lovely Gilbert and Sullivan's 'When a Merry Maiden Marries', followed by a traditional Irish tune, 'My Own House'. He then read his new poem, 'Time Immemorial' – 'Rest in peace my 1970's wild!'. Julie Beaven, his teacher, who plays the Celtic harp (she constructed it herself) played 'My Love is Like a Red Red Rose' and 'Greensleeves' followed by another Irish tune 'Shulearoon. They completed the set with a lovely duet, 'Gentle Maiden'. We're hoping they return with some more music. The harp and dulcimer make a wonderful sound when played together.

One of the new members of the audience won the raffle prize, a meal for two at the excellent Links Tavern at Liphook. It's an excellent restaurant and we hope they write a review of their experience, in verse perhaps!

Several members of the audience wandered over to tell us they'd had a great evening which is always 'good news' to hear. We hope to have more poets and musicians in future. So please, if you enjoyed the evening, do tell your friends and family. We'd love to hear more music and poetry at our Open Mic. We'll provide the guest performers! You provide the Open Mikers!




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