Launch of poetry Anthology
Mary Wallace Theatre - 01 July 2019
A review by Gemma Craig-Sharples 2019 winner of Arts Richmond Young Laureate Award
As Roger McGough writes in his foreword to the Arts Richmond Poetry Anthology 'About Time', launched on Saturday 29th June, the poets certainly 'unleashed some memorable images' on the subject of time. Beautifully read in the intimate and atmospheric Mary Wallace Theatre, the poems which make up the anthology range from reflective and thought-provoking to abstract and whimsical. This variety was magnificently showcased during the launch, enlivened by performances from Ian Lee-Dolphin, Lucy Lyrical, and Kevin Taggerty, making for a highly enjoyable evening.
Poets were invited to read their own work, adding to the intimate feel of the event and really bringing the myriad of poetic voices in the collection alive. For the performances, the poems had been grouped into categories such as linear time, time and the natural world, temporal illusion, and lingering shadows, and these groupings encouraged listeners to look for connections between the works and listen for the unrelenting tick-tock of time running throughout the poems. These diverse groupings also enabled listeners to appreciate just how thoroughly the anthology explores this abstract concept of time, revealing its complex and multi-faceted nature whilst providing an innovative structure to the readings which was highly engaging.
As is to be expected from the subject of time, which Roger McGough rightly describes as a 'difficult concept' in the anthology's foreword, the poems were wonderfully diverse.
Several poems had a melancholy tone, most notably Ian Williams' 'The Spoon in the Bathroom', thoughtfully read by Greg Freeman. Dealing with memory and loss, Williams' poem poignantly echoes the debilitating, destructive, and disorientating consequences of time, as 'cobwebs [...] [creep] into [the] mind'. Yet there were also more playful explorations of memory and time, as in Heather Moulson's 'The Summers of Hate', in which the speaker seamlessly transitions from berating 'the misery of youth' and 'yearning for love whilst my overalls stank of fish' in the summer of '76 to wishing for the 'good days' of that very same summer. Time heals all wounds...
This wry humour also characterised other poems at the launch, including David Hornsby's 'The Oldest Man Alive', read by Matthew Griffiths. The eponymous figure of the poem, Adam Mickelthwaite, is a wily salesman of bottles of 'eternal youth' and claims to be the Oldest Man Alive - although, as Hornsby gleefully reveals at the end of the poem, he 'passed away aged thirty-five'. Simon Tindale's 'Simon Must Be In Bed By Eight' strikes a tragicomic note, and Tindale's clever performance, capturing the whingeing, petulant tone of the child who narrates the first part of the poem before shifting to a more reflective tone for the final verse, when a 93-year old Simon must still, in what Philip Larkin described as that 'whole hideous inverted childhood', 'be in bed by eight'.
In 'Tread', Alice Jacobs describes a Polynesian belief that life should be lived facing backwards, towards our ancestors, and this anthology should allow others to take guidance and inspiration from a new wave of poetic 'ancestors'. Aptly launched in the home of the Richmond Shakespeare Society, the collection will be a source of inspiration for poets to come, and with so much talent to offer, it was clearly about time that this fantastic anthology was launched.
A celebration of the commended poems from the Roge