Our first foray into editing an anthology proved harder work than we anticipated, but we’re proud and pleased with the result. The Pop Up Anthology 2013 includes poems by 51 of the poets who have read at the Spoken Word night at the Bar des Arts, Guildford, that Dónall hosts once a month.
The content of the book is predictably varied, for it includes work from writers and performers from far and wide who have come to read as feature poets, as well as the Surrey poets who have loyally come to read each month so regularly and enthusiastically.
We’re already looking forward to editing the Pop Up Anthology 2014, and planning its London launch at the Poetry Café in October 2014. We'll have another exciting launch party at the Bar des Arts that month, too. The party for the 2013 launch was a night to remember!
We’re looking forward to another year of Spoken Word at the Bar des Arts, on the third Tuesday of each calendar month, and to meeting and listening to more talented guest features and open mic readers. We're so grateful to all our contributors for their participation in the Pop Up Anthology 2013.
Here's a poem from the book, by one of our Surrey poets, Joanna Harker.
When I am walking
Venus and the moon were brilliant
Up in the dark half of the sky
As I walked westwards through pale grass
Still dripped with the rain long swept away
I was walking to you when it first rained.
I was walking to you as I walked round my day
To my bus, to my work, through that city.
Now I see the whole milky way
Arching above me; lustrous; alive
As I walk in the dark with the stars as my guide.
The moon is still brilliant, but now the whole sky is dark
And I search for your shadow as I move through the park
I am walking to meet you at the end of your day
I am walking to you, I am walking, always.
© Joanna Harker 2013
Dónall read as a feature at the Fermoy International Festival in Ireland at the beginning of August 2013. It was a brilliant five days of reading, listening and meeting new friends from Ireland, the USA, Europe and even India. Here's a video from Dónall's feature at Lombard's Bar in Fermoy
We also read in the town at large - the Ulster Bank hosted readings and we went on a coach trip to the nearby historic - and prehistoric - sites, and read there. We read in the Barber's shop, too, where Dónall feared for his long hair. You can see the results on these You Tube links.
We had a lot of fun, too
We’re celebrating the first anniversary of Pop Up Poetry at the Bar des Arts in Guildford (GU1 3YA) in February. We’ve been running this spoken word and music evening for a year now. It’s a free night with open mic opportunities and each month four or five guest artists come to perform, read or play their words or music.
The series takes its name from an idea by a friend, Susie Campbell, who in 2011 organised some spoken word events in previously poem-free places – one in a hairdressers (“On Beauty”), one in a cake-shop (“On Food”) and one in the Bar des Arts ("On Art") which Dónall hosted.
It was after the success of “On Art” that we began to hold Pop Up Poetry open mic sessions on irregular monthly Tuesday evenings at the Bar des Arts. Now Dónall hosts the nights on the third Tuesday of each month (except in April 2013 when it will be the fourth Tuesday).
We‘ve had a wonderful year of entertainment from a wide range of poets and musicians, both from the London circuit and from the local and provincial areas, and made a great many new friends in the last year. The recent emergence of a student group from Surrey University (Tom V and Friends) and the discovery of local talents like Eddie C, Rodney Wood, Daniel Smith, Wizzi Seaton and Thomas Thurman has made the year particularly rewarding.
People have asked us why we don’t charge entry to Pop Up Poetry. It’s a good question - we’ve been inviting friends with whom we’d often read and performed gratis, in London venues, and they have generously trained down to Guildford to join in as guest features, at their own expense, from London, Oxford, Kent, Addlestone, Farnborough and other far-flung places.
We don’t charge entry because we believe that listening to, reading and performing oral poetry should be accessible to everyone. We are not charged for the venue, nor do we receive anything from it other than the opportunity to fill it with words and music on a Tuesday night. To pay the expenses of four or five guests we would have to charge audience and open mic performers at least £4 - £5, even with a full house, because we would also have to pay the venue a share.
We believe this expense would exclude the students and young poets, and the (often unwaged) poets who come to our nights despite their own high travelling expenses. We believe this would be counterproductive.
We have been very lucky to find so many brilliant artists and performers who are willing to make the trip to Guildford occasionally and share their work with our appreciative audiences, without fees. We salute our friends and look forward to a happy and creative new year.
You can find our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/PopUpPoets and see our schedule of events there.
We took the opportunity of an open mic at an event featuring poets from Indigo Dreams to read a poem each from our own collections, on Saturday 5th October. The event is held several times a year and features different poets each time. All the profits from the entrance fee and the sale of drinks go to fund the opening of this church building as a cold weather centre each winter. It was jointly run this month by Adele Ward and Ruth O'Callaghan.
No festival is complete without a Fringe and the first Bilingual St Clémentin Literary Festival was no exception! The only problem was, the instigators of the Fringe event had misread the schedule of the main Festival and found themselves competing with an important session of it - this was on the last afternoon and rescheduling was not an option, even if Dónall and John had realised the problem before the show started.
As it was, the Fringe performers found themselves winning the competition to be heard, to the extent that they were almost drowning the words of the writer who was in the marquee across the courtyard. Something was said, and something had to be done - so the St Clémentin Fringe became the first Whispered Fringe event, probably in the whole history of Festivals and their Fringes. Here are three of the performers who contributed - Jon Welch, Wendy Wright and Glyn Pope - after the transformation into muted mode - as well as the Reel to Real Show, by John and Donall!
We've just got back from a wonderful three-day event in Saint Clémentin, Deux Sévres, France: a biligual literary festival, the first of its kind to be held in the region. Dónall was invited to read there by his old friend Wendy Wright, also a poet and writer.
There was of course an excellent restaurant, Chez Didier, which became our base when we weren't reading or attending a reading or a workshop. Here we are, right to left in the picture, Wendy, Katherine Gallagher, Bernard (Katherine's husband), Dónall and Janice. We thoroughly enjoyed Katherine's seminar on poetry translation and her readings from her books.
Other poets there included the amazingly dynamic John Hudson, whose new book, "Earth" was launched at the festival; Roger Elkin; French writers Michel Cordeboeuf and Isabelle Soulard; David Cooke; Duncan Falconer and as guest of honour Helen Dunmore. Roisín McAuley the TV presenter skilfully interviewed Helen Dunmore in a taxing bilingual conversation and Helen gave readings from her books in both English and French. The organisers of all of this were the poets Glyn Pope and Gordon Simms and his wife Jocelyn, who is also a writer, to whom we owe a big debt of personal thanks for their support and hospitality, as also to Wendy Wright and her husband, Jim.
Dónall read from his pilot version of "Sifting Sound into Shape", which he has now edited to create the longer 6"x9" edition that's shown on our home page.
We met so many charming people, both English and French. Jon and Cathy Welch, for example, who live a few kilometres away, were so welcomimg and friendly, very happy to be in the peace and quiet of rural France after moving there permanently from Surrey.
Saint Clémentin is a delightful place. The village street is furnished with picturesque towers like these, which inspired Jan to do some ink sketches. There's also a lovely little chapel (La Chappelle des Rosiers) on the outskirts of St Clémentin, where an art exhibition and a concert by the village brass band were held on the first evening we were there. This was a tremendous experience, especially as the chapel is decorated with recently-uncovered Norman frescoes.
The interior of the Chappelle des Rosiers was lined with mediaeval frescoes, recently rediscovered after having been hidden under whitewash for centuries. The village brass band played huge curly instruments which clearly took a lot of blowing!
You can see Dónall in his panama hat to the right of the bandleader. It was a wonderful family occasion in which all the local community took part.
This was Jan's second attempt at a drawing of La Chappelle des Rosiers - the first had to be aborted when a large bull started to take an interest in her presence - she had stupidly climbed into his field without seeing he was there)
In Saint Ouen, an even smaller chapel nearby, John Hudson mounted a very interesting installation, "13 Characters in Search of a Light Switch". The locked chapel housed thirteen intermittently flashing lights in its dark interior, which could be seen through a tiny window in the wall, while a loop of readings of John's poems could be heard outside the chapel, in the voices of thirteen different seekers after truth from history and fiction. The readings were recorded by members of the Saint Clémentin community.
Jan drew this ink sketch while she leaned against the wall of Saint Ouen, while the Thirteen Characters spoke at her back about their Search for a Light Bulb, insistently and movingly.