Monday, 14 June 2010

Reading in the Garden.

What better place to hold a literary event than in a garden. That is just what Naomi Woddis, Writer in Residence at the Culpeper Community Garden in Islington decided to do one sunny Sunday this June.
Naomi invited a whole crew of poets, musicians and authors to come and perform in the beautiful Poetry Gazebo.

The Culpeper Community Garden is named after a famous 17th century herbalist who published his works in Islington. It began as a triangle of wasteland in 1982 and with the support of local people has developed into a beautiful public garden. There are mini allotments for community groups, children and people living nearby who don't have gardens. There are three Garden Workers and a team of volunteers.

Richard and Lucia are planting peas.

Scarlet, one of the Workers is showing her Washing Line Potatoes. Place a single seed potato in a lined carrier bag filled with compost and hang it on a washing line until the potatoes grow. You don't need any outside space for this, just a window and a washing line.
I can feel a poem coming on!

Naomi opened the event by reading some of her own wonderful poems, including one inspired by Rilke's line, Poetry is the past that breaks out in our hearts.
She has written a poem about the garden before it was planted.
Post-war playground - ...Now the soil's as rich as coffee richly brewed.....
Naomi says her poetry is summed up with two themes - He left me, that's not very nice and Poetry's great!

Jacqui Saphra's first pamphlet, Rock 'n' Roll Mama was published by Flarestack and she has a new collection coming out with Flipped Eye in October 2010. Jacqui read us some lovely and intriguing poems about nature including a love poem : The White Forest - ...daily I scatter wordseeds over the bleached terrain....

Courttia Newland, novelist and short story writer, read us a recently published short story, The Biscuit Man's Wife. Courttia's crisp descriptive prose and excellent contemporary dialogue captures brilliantly the life and culture of young people today but also the universal dilemma of running with the crowd.

Karen McCarthy  came up with some of the best titles of the day.
If I were a Buddhist I would chant for you - For my fence I shall plant a row of unicorn horns....propagate sea horse...I will wear two feathers of the phoenix tail upright in my hair....
and the wonderful - A farthing in a can of coke.
Karen's rich and strictly rigorous poetry never fails to move and challenge me. This is poetry where everything has truly earned its place.

I decided to read the opening chapter of my novel, HIDDEN, ( Meadowside Books, March 2011) and the audience were most amused when I told them this was the World Premier of Chapter 1.
But they laughed in all the right places and got the ending - Phew! And then they wanted to buy the book.Someone even shouted out, "More!" at the end.

Katrina Naomi read us poems about growing up in Margate and then some poems from her pamphlet drawn on her research into the archives of the Bronte sisters. Katrina was Writer in Residence at the Bronte House in Haworth.

We also had readings from Heather Taylor, poems and a fairy story  and wonderful poems about the sun from Denrele - When the sun comes I will lick the sweat off a can of lager.

Our fantastic audience clapped and laughed and stood by us through thick and thin as all good audiences do.

And the garden hummed with children and bees and butterflies and poppies.

It was a truly lovely occasion. Why don't you find a beautiful garden to read your work aloud. I'm sure you'll get an audience.