Hastings Battleaxe reads her poems - a bit scary
Hastings Battleaxe has done poetry readings on two occasions recently: at the WI Literary Lunch, and at a combined choir/music poetry concert at St Clement's Church in Hastings Old Town. It surprises me a bit that I attempt to do readings at all - it is bad enough having to share stuff you have written, never mind reading it out loud to a load of strangers.However, I think one advantage of getting older is that you no longer care so much about what people thiink of you. I have no trouble with standing up to speak, and with projecting enough volume - years and years of shouting at groups and now, leading WI meetings have seen to that. Hell, I even used to train managers in Presentation Skills. I do get nervous though, and worry about breathing, and the pace/timing of poetry readings. Some of my poet colleagues memorise their poems - I don't know if I could ever do that.
|Photos from English Wine Centre website|
Quick aside, why is English wine so expensive? I did purchase a few glasses of wine for myself and others, but at vast cost. One reads that more and more of the land round us is being turned over to vineyards, but the wine still costs way more than wines from elsewhere. On the English Wine Centre shop price-list the cheapest is £11.20 per bottle, and I'll bet that is like paint-stripper....
As you might expect, the lunch was attended by the more well-to-do echelons of East Sussex WI ladies - and not too many of them either, because I don't think the event had been particularly well-publicised. Fortunately, there were people I knew there, several of my fellow East Sussex board members, including the Chairman, Gill Nokes.
|Battleaxe does her thing|
|Laydeez that lunch.....|
As I get older I become less and less of a royalist - all the current fuss about the forthcoming marriage of Meghan and Harry is, in my opinion, nauseating - but I am glad I had the chance to meet the Queen.
When I had finished reading the poem I told the assembled ladies about my day and made them laugh suitably. Later in the meal I read them another two poems - a sonnet about Slugs and Snails, and another WI poem, 'Picnic in the Park'. I had to choose quite carefully - some of my poems are a bit rude....
The next event was very different. It was a concert called 'A song for All Seasons' held in aid of Hastings Pier - which sadly, has just gone into adminstration - but that is another story. The prime movers were a local choir called Harmony One - an all-women ensemble that specialises in newer and less-known music, led by a very nice woman called Debbie Warren. I know several women in the Choir, including WI friend Lin Ireland. As well as the choir, there was a string quartet, and us members of the Hastings Stanza group reading out our poems. The concert consisted of a programme of songs, music and poems relating to the four seasons. I was one of two people reading autumn poems, so I had to wait until after spring and summer, which meant after the interval - I always prefer to get things out of the way quickly.
It was substantially more daunting because it was a far bigger audience, and we had to climb up and read our poems from the church pulpit. We only had a few moments to leave our seats and scuttle up the steps while the audience was applauding the previous number, and of course we had to sit right underneath the pulpit, which meant we could not see much...
|Looking up at that scary pulpit|
I missed having Philosopher there - no way could he have sat for such a long period in a hard, uncomfortable pew.
I do very much enjoy going to the Stanza group, even though my poems are not as serious, literary or well-formed as those of many of the others, some of whom are very good, published poets. At first, I found it very scary indeed to read out my efforts. However, the group is exceptionally encouraging, positive and welcoming, and I have learned a great deal.
I have two poetry plans for 2018. One, to go on a poetry reading course. There is a London outfit called Live Canon that does such things, and I have booked to go in February. Note, I have not said I want to be a 'performance poet' - that always sounds a bit ranty and sweary to me. There is a monthly 'Poetry Slam' in Hastings, where people stand up and read/perform their work in a competitive environment. Several of my friends have done it - and even won - but I have not yet felt able to bring myself to join in. I resolve to give it a go once I have been on my course.
Secondly, I want to put a book of poems together, for charity, to be published for my 'big' birthday in 2019. I'd like to produce a high-quality book, with illustrations from a local artist.
To finish, here's a few pictures taken from the Pier, on Sunday, which was a wonderfully bright and sunny day. More Pier stuff in another post.