Saturday, 15 July 2017

Frome Festival Poetry Cafe, 10th June 2017

I love Frome. It's one of my favourite Somerset towns, and if obligation hadn't kept me closer to Bristol, I'd have loved to have moved there the year before last.  So when Crysse Morrison kindly asked me to read at the Frome Festival Poetry Cafe some months back, I said yes yes yes and thank you. 
Not that the journey was without tribulation. Having been held up for two hours on Flowers Hill in South Bristol last autumn on my way to read at Words and Ears in Bradford-on-Avon, I vowed, as we squeaked into The Swan with moments to spare, that I'd never accept an invitation to read outside Bristol on a work day again. Obviously I'd disregarded this in the my eagerness to go to Frome ... until we found ourselves sitting in traffic on the ring road for 40 minutes. Even the relatively startling sight of a muntjac nibbling on a hedge at the side of the road couldn't distract me from my gloom.  





But the M4 was remarkably clear, as was the rest of my route, apart from when an elderly denizen of B-o-A blocked a single track section of road for four minutes while I avoided eye contact and everyone behind me papped her.  Eventually she deigned to reverse.   










Once in Frome, in the garden of the Garden Cafe, everything was sunny and lovely again. The theme of the evening was 'That Adlestrop Moment' and all the poets reading in the open mic produced poems which either referred directly to, or were at least partly inspired by, Edward Thomas's poem.  The poem judged the best would win its writer the title of Frome Poet Laureate for the year. 

It turned out the guest reader is the judge in what was a simultaneously enjoyable but tricky task. There was barely a hair's breadth between so many of the best poems, and in the end I opted for honourable mentions for several poems, with Liv Torc winning a book for her beautiful poem about her baby, and B a bottle of wine and the Laureateship for her poem. I don't have the piece of paper to hand with the notes I made while I was listening to the poems so I can't give you the titles, but the winning poem was about riding pillion on a motorbike, and was memorable for all its original images playing with the neither-here-nor-thereness of the original poem. 

And my reading went well too, I was told. (It's good to be told even when you think it was probably OK.)

I was far too busy to take photos, so I've half-inched some from other people. 



Crysse Morrison with Martin Bax, taken by David Chedgy





Crysse, drawn by Frome Festival sketch artist, Ann Harrison-Broninski


Liv Torc, taken by Crysse


B reading her winning poem, sketched by Ann


Louise Green reading her brilliant glosa on Adlestrop, taken by Crysse


B and me, taken by Crysse


Ann sketching the guest reader, taken by B






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