the sound of words rippling across the land

Thursday 7th October was National Poetry Day, and the evening was buzzing at the Dominican Priory in Canterbury where an audience of more than a hundred turned out to enjoy live readings from the short-listed poets for Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year. Nick Hunt, the Poetry Competition Organiser, Dorothy Fryd, last year's winner, and I, selected the winners, a process that had begun back in the summer as we pored over a selection of wide-ranging poems. Prizes included a Best Read Poem, and there was a sense of heightened expectation as each poet took to the stage. The winning poem was 'Drinking coffee by the door' by Moyra Tourlamain, with other prizes being awarded to Nicky Gould, Maria McCarthy, Ray Grinney, and Canterbury Laureate Squad member Gary Studley, whose poem ' Passing it forward' won both 3rd and Runner-up Best Read prizes. There will be further opportunities to hear a selection of the competition entries at The Jolly Sailor in Canterbury this coming Sunday.

Sixty Poems for Haiti, the anthology of poems published by  Cane Arrow Press (www.canearrowpress.com )and including poems by several Kent poets, was launched at  Peckham Library  on 2nd October. Poets from Kent and London turned out  on a wild and windy night to share their words and raise funds for the earthquake victims. Sandra Agard, Literature Officer, also prominent storyteller, and her colleague Mike Allport, welcomed us, and the audience were treated to several of the poems from the anthology as well as other work. The two youngest contributors, aged 13, Kanisia and Chloe, took to the floor with confidence and maturity, at ease with fellow poets who'd been performing for years. Anne-Marie Glasheen read a poem inspired by her grand-daughter, Luigi Marchini impressed us with his poem 'Gnocchi and Barolo', and Sue Rose and Geraldine Paine moved us with a range of poignant and thought-provoking words.

As  did  Mark Holihan who is one of those unassuming, modest poets who has been quietly impressing audiences in East Kent for several years, and if anyone deserves to have a collection published, he does. His poetry displays a depth of observational detail and a universality carried by a pleasant San Francisco accent not lost despite his years in Kent. The quality of his writing depicts the  fine detail of everyday life firmly set in an awareness of the wider world as illustrated in the opening of his poem 'Something about Earthquakes' ...

         Grandma's porcelain chickens survived so many/ but the Kwan Yin' crashed its pieces as sharp/ as scalpel blades on the night the chimney and the/highway overpasses fell to sandwich the evening traffic ...

Sixty Poems will be launched at Blackheath Village Library Tuesday 12th October at 6.30. Readings from some of the poets and an Open Mike.

 And yet more Poetry. Thanet's Write Women Poetry Group held their monthly workshop on the theme Woman and God. I was inspired by the recent TV programme, Peter Owen Jones' The Lost Gospels,  to re-imagine a response from Mary Magdalene in a poem entitled 'The Trials of Mary Magdalene'. Here's a taster ...

       and now a portion of my tale has left the dirt to stir the questions in your heart/ once more   I find myself on trial - Do I exist apart from Him?/ I may have liked to dance and sing and lie with men/ and laugh and bathe unashamed in quiet pools of longing. But, as is said/ there be a time for every season. Hail.

But the star of the day was undoubtedly Felicity Brookesmith who brought the story of the Annunciation bang up to date ...

...an angel speaking to me, dazzling me with the light/ this angel, like, he or she, I don't know callin me/Mary don't be afraid, you are going to have a baby - / O my god ... O my God - What? When? 0 NO - ... I have only just met Joe - brilliant at woodwork, got a stall in the market ...

Other news in brief - Ramsgate's Granville Theatre will be putting on Aladdin this Christmas, and the lead role will be played by young performer Aimee Watmore, whose photograph accompanied the last blog.

And the Broadstairs Christian Gospel Choir will be in concert on Sunday 17th October 3pm at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Broadstairs. There will be rocking down by de riverside!