John Davies, Shedman, invited James Brookes to share the stage with him at the November gig – two headliners with strongly contrasted styles. However, both James and John’s contributions to this Write Angle were suffused with their own brand of humour.
John’s work has been described as “mingling wry humour with sharp focus that will leave you wondering and questioning what really matters.” For him, it’s relationships, environment, people, animals and, of course, sheds!
So, Maximum Shed is most certainly about a shed, “somewhere to carve your name with pride - and enjoy a sneaky smoke. Or as he puts it, ‘a word of advice from me and the shed,... put a sign up: Women! Keep Out!” Yet the whole poem is redolent of friendship with his “old mate” and their shared experiences. Glove Compartment described life as constrained in cubicles, cars and bed; and in the smallest room, he thinks: ”...how pretty much all life ends up in some kind of box.” Then pure fantasy, A Gannet Discusses The View, a poem first recited in Ganesch (honestly!), then translated to English.
John is writing an alphabet of shed poems, starting with S for Shed - 'the only one written so far!' he says with a wry smile. This shed is full of the detritus of gardening but “The workbench has seen no work for years.” John wrote Two in One in response to a woman asking for a poem for her secret love. He describes a mundane space in which her lover becomes a different man, “where our obsessions culminated in bliss.” Whatever the poem and its subject, John always wears a charming, infectious smile that speaks of humour, but also a sense that he enjoys everything about the poem and performing it.
James’ work has been said to advance “a lyrical, frank and unsparing consideration of the England in which we find ourselves.” However, this reviewer found his poems to show a real affecton for where we’ve come from.
In Bloomery, he recounts the history of iron smelting in the Weald – the bloom being the orange flames from the furnaces fuelled by wood. Yet, “..by the time Blake pens Jerusalem, the view….is a green and pleasant land, iron work having migrated to the coke-fuelled Midlands.” Birthday Party, East Cicero, 1926 told how Fats Waller was kidnapped frighteningly at gun point and became “the surprise guest and the birthday boy’s face had a scar.” Pharisees was the Sussex way of saying fairies, since the dialect included reduplicated plurals (!) And, if it wasn't for that peculiar disease, The English Sweats, we might have had a King Arthur, but got HenryVIII instead.
Much of James' humour is straight-faced, relying on the sound and meaning of words, juxtaposing the past with the present and comes through very cleverly done!
Meanwhile, at the open mic, Ray Vogt rose to the challenge of a 'shed' poem, first reciting the lyrics of Garden Shed Blues, and then singing it as a song accompanied on his shiny steel, resonator guitar. Ray turned his shed with its ordinary gardening stuff into a rip-roaring hillbilly blues. In the Secret Of a Good Marriage, Leah told us to “shed expectations you carried in your head.” While your reviewer's Secret Of a Good Marriage was that “Every man should have a shed...for a safe and private place.” He also told about his failure as a carpenter in The Shed, describing how he built a chicken shed which “had four walls – only they didn’t meet.”
In MRI, Colin Eveleigh found the humour in a recently experienced, normally alarming, medical procedure. This was followed by Red Dot, about the angst of whether his ceramic work is sold – it was. Then his evocative Stillness: “Without words, without thoughts, ideas, images, without labels, names, beliefs.....”
Richard Hawtree's succinct look at war, Of Course, told of the assurance the chauffeur gave to those off to fight: “'You'll be all right, sir,' he said to officers in the Great War who of course, weren't- ” Just to add, Richard’s debut book of poetry, ‘The Night I spoke Irish in Surrey’ will be coming out in January.
Dick Senior's Vanity's Bonfire spoke of “The sun has just had enough” of all the politicians – a humorous take on those who misrule us. He took Audi Maserati's When Clancy Watched the Pub Burn Down, adding his own sixteen year old experience of the same pub in Cornwall ten years earlier, with “...all those flowing hormones.” Denys Whitley's Rainbow at Dungeon Ghyll took us to the other end of the country, on an autumnal walk in the rain in the Lake District: “A red stone path, thin-sheeted with chrystal overflow from the red tarn, staining it all year with rust as if preparing for this season when the colours match...”
Jezz, in sunglasses, gentle voice and total confidence on guitar, and Jack, his accordian and box drum accompanist, provided rousing versions of Recovering the Satellites and Cadillac Dream, ending another warm succesful evening. Colin, second month running, won the raffle, an £80 meal voucher from sponsor, Cote, Chichesters fine French restaurant.
We hope you’ll join us in December.. Jackie Juno’s a funny funny lady who’s won lots of poetry awards as well as being a comic/poet. Wait for Press Release! You won’t want to miss our ‘Christmas Special’!
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