Friday, 13 March 2015

Jo Shapcott and Colin Speakman

Sally Bavage writes:
Most things in Nature come in pairs – and each of our splendid poets took an aspect of the natural world to explore when they read their most insightful poetry to us tonight.

Colin has based most of his poetry on the ecological and geological, taking delight in celebrating the Dales through its landscape, its rivers, its wildlife and its inhabitants.  Does a landscape have a memory of the walkers who have passed by – has Emily Brontë left her mark on the very stones of Haworth?  The ‘rivers of life’ in the Dales flowing to the sea through the ‘Ouse-ing mud a mile wide that divides Mercia from Northumbria’, playing ‘beck music’ as they find their way through the clints, sykes, hags and runnels.  The ecology of words across the ‘four seasons, as in the different moods of the movements of a symphony’ give a flavour of Colin’s view of his beloved land. We have our Shards – in millstone grit. We have our secret places – in the limestone caves with their hidden memories of life trapped in time.  “May setting suns still fleck dark waves with gold” gave us a vision of his reflections on a sunset. 

Jo Shapcott and Colin Speakman               Photo: Richard Wilcocks
Jo, too, reflected on the natural world, with a light, witty yet perceptive view of some of Nature’s best-loved representations.  Bees formed an early theme, from waggle-dancing to colony collapse disorder, stings to wax, ending with “It’s over now, honey”.  A buzz of delight hummed round the audience.  Sorry.

The Slender Loris reaching gracefully for the lunch long since flown, like us reaching for memories.   Spring roses, feminists all, that demonstrated attraction for butterflies, spilling pollen wantonly, exuding a rich and sexy essence, distracting bees, sometimes overblown and blousey. Petal power!

From Of Mutability, her latest collection, we heard of diagnosis, being an ex-roommate with a scorpion, the confusions of life with dementia and finally, passing water.  Not the Colin Speakman kind, something more basic.  Such eclectic topics are handled with such brio in Jo’s easy delivery style that both lulled and challenged.  Something Else indeed in an entertaining and absorbing evening. 

Audience comments:

A lovely event – Colin’s poetry was beautiful and he painted beautiful images with his speech. Jo Shapcott was great, very clear presentation of her poems. A really enjoyable event!

Terrific event.  Enjoyed both Colin Speakman’s poems and Jo Shapcott’s. Jo Shapcott drew me in with her personal yet surreal and witty work. Good that she read new poems as well.

A fantastic evening of poetry by the two poets! Colin Speakman’s poems were a celebration of nature and the dales, and Jo Shapcott’s poetry was sophisticated and witty!

Enjoyed it v. much. Really liked the dual nature of the reading.

Great venue – liked the set up with the tables. Fabulous bunting! Lovely evening with two fantastic poets.  

Enjoyed Colin’s poems as they embrace many things I love in the natural world with a great choice of words. Jo Shapcott – magical. Created a world of infinite possibility.

Colin’s poetry was nice and interesting on the local parts around here. Jo’s was also good particularly on the serious piece of her late auntie’s battle with dementia.

Jo Shapcott is really brilliant; her bee and flower poems are lovely. Really enjoyed her choice.

Really enjoyed Jo’s poetry – just wish we could have heard more of it!  

I liked the flowers on the table, what a kind gesture in this rather grim room. I attend the Wednesday Heart poetry and it was nice to be in a different place hearing word smiths read their work, although sad it wasn’t better attended. The poets were different obviously in style, but both excellent. Thank you.

Nice to hear poetry about our region from Colin – particularly liked the poem about the Wharfe’s journey. Loved Jo’s playful and magical poems. Funny not to react after each poem though, the way we listened in silence seemed a bit odd!  

Colin Speakman – wonderful poetry but a pity he stood behind the lectern where he was almost covered. Jo Shapcott – excellent and clearly read, and humorously introduced.

Very good. Jo’s poetry sparkled with magic and was clean. Colin’s was enjoyable but it would have been better with a microphone.

Enjoyed both. Shame there weren‘t more people. No other points to raise.   

Much enjoyed Ms Shapcott and meeting Colin, known of old. If only everybody could be better heard.  

I rarely come to the Headingley Club and there was no sign indicating how to enter the building.

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