The Enfield Poets stanza group made their second appearance at the Poetry Cafe in February, performing alongside a brilliantly entertaining and engaging team from Waltham Forest, led the by Poetry Society’s own Paul McGrane. It was a wonderful evening, enthusastically supported by a large and friendly audience. The Enfield Group delivered six fine sets from a very diverse and interesting group of poets, including Louis Cennamo (back row, far left), Terry Jones (back row, second from left), Keith Lockwood, giving an amazingly assured first live reading (back row, third from left), Alan Murray (back row, far right), Mary Duggan (front row, second from left), and Irene Richards, the newest member of the group (front row, third from left). Congratulations to everyone who took part, and many thanks to Paul McGrane for organising these terrific events.
For the last 12 months, the Dugdale Theatre has displayed poems by Enfield Poets in its window and foyer. To mark the one year anniversary of the Enfield Poets ‘Poem of the Month’, the theatre is mounting an exhibition of the featured works. So, do have a look if you happen to be in the area, or browse the poems while waiting for one of our great events to start. Thank you to the fantastic staff at the Dugdale Theatre for all their support over the last year, and ‘congratulations’ to all of the poets whose work appears in the exhibition.
On August 6, the Enfield Poets stanza group made their debut appearance at the Poetry Cafe in London’s Covent Garden, where they read alongside the North Herts Stanza Group. It was, by all accounts, a very hot, but hugely enjoyable evening, with an enthusastic audience enjoying some fine poetry from both groups.
The Enfield Poets are: Anthony Fisher (second from left, back row), Chris Hamilton (5th from left, back row), Terry Jones (1st left, front row), Jayne Buckland (4th from left, front row), Mary Duggan (5th from left, front row), and Annmarie Nicholson (6th from left, front row. All gave a very good account of themselves and we are looking forward to hearing them perform again at Enfield Poets in November (see ‘Readings’ page).
Enfield Poets seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment, with this evening’s event breaking the attendance record set last month by a considerable margin. Consequently, the event got off to a mildly chaotic start with the organisers having to raid adjacent rooms for more chairs to accommodate all of the people who kept on coming and coming, and coming. For along with all our loyal and talented regulars, there were many new faces this evening, some of them local, some from further afield in Hertfordshire and elsewhere, but all of them anxious to experience the buzz currently being generated by Enfield Poets and the Dugdale Centre.
But in addition to all these new arrivals, this evening saw the welcome return of Valerie Darville, following a rare but well-deserved break last month, who introduced the floor readers with her usual relaxed blend of encouraging remarks and laconic, dry humour. It would be unfair to single out individual poets from among the many great contributors we had this evening, but it would be equally unjust to fail to mention those who were reading at Enfield Poets for the first time, such as Annmarie Nicholson, Terry Jones, Simon Bowden, and Lily Bhattacharya, two of whom are members of the recently formed Enfield Poets stanza group, and all of whom gave very good accounts of themselves. We certainly hope to hear more of their work at future events.
After a brief introduction by Alan Murray, Acumen’s editor, Patricia Oxley, took the reins for the second half of the evening, maintaining the relaxed atmosphere created by Valerie in the first half, and impressing everyone with the kind of modesty that is unexpected in someone who has accomplished so much and who was recently awarded an MBE for services to poetry.
Patricia had brought four great poets with her this evening, three of them with poems in the current edition of Acumen. The first was Judi Benson who opened her hugely entertaining set with ‘Burying the Ancestors’, a poem that is astonishing for its epic sweep and scintillating language, and which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best individual poem. Judging by the audience’s reaction, it seemed that everyone at Enfield Poets thought it should have won.
Wynn Wheldon had the unenviable task of following Judi’s bravura performance, but managed to capture and sustain the audience’s attention with poems from his Acumen pamphlet, Tiny Disturbances, which were clever, funny, and moving by turns. A highlight was a poem about the death of his mother, called ‘Last Words’.
The inimitable Dinah Livingstone was also on top form this evening, ending her set, as Judi had begun hers, with a long poem, this one called ‘Epic’, and written in the alliterative style of Langland’s Piers Plowman – a real tour-de-force which had us all enthralled.
The final reader of the evening, William Oxley, was introduced by his publisher, David Perman. With a mixture of admiration and great affection, David reminded us that, in the course of his long and distinguished literary career, William had either met or corresponded with almost everyone of any significance in the poetry world. And this range of poetic knowledge and experience was certainly reflected in the very accomplished poems he read for us from his recently published Collected and New Poems, from the brilliant little epigram with which he opened his set, to the beautiful and moving ‘Horses in Winter’, all delivered with the self-effacing charm that has won him so many friends and admirers over the years.
It was a wonderful evening and I’m ashamed to say the unfortunate staff of the Dugdale Theatre had some difficulty getting us to vacate the room, as everyone present wanted to stay and talk about all the great poets they had heard, or get their copies of the poet’s books autographed. But it was good to finish the season on such a high, and we are all looking forward to returning in September.
The much anticipated appearance of Allison McVety at Enfield Poets certainly did not disappoint. Having launched her new collection, Lighthouses, just a few days previously in Reading, we were privileged to be among the first to hear some of her new poems. Many of these were virtuoso pieces of writing, and an enthralled Enfield Poets audience frequently departed from the usual poetry recital protocol by breaking into spontaneous rounds of applause after individual poems. One poem, in particular, ‘The Stradivarius Tree’, drew audible gasps of admiration. Book sales at the end of evening were brisk and there was a long queue of poets wanting to speak to Allison and have her sign their copies.
This was one of the largest audiences we have ever had at Enfield Poets. Alongside our dedicated group of local poets, all of whom made marvellous contributions to the open-mic section of the evening, there was Trish Harewood, one of the organisers of CB1 Poetry, who had travelled down from Cambridge for the event. There was also Mike Bartholomew Biggs and Nancy Mattson who run the very successful Poetry in the Crypt in Islington. Many other poets, too, such as Mo Gallacio and Carol de Vaughn had travelled in from central London to hear Allison and all agreed it had been a great evening and well worth the journey. If you haven’t yet heard Allison McVety read, I strongly recommend you check her website for details of future appearances (www.allisonmcvety.com).