Richard Wilcocks writes:
They have a lot in common, Hannah Stone and Patrick Lodge, and they know it well. This delectable, intimate evening in Headingley Library (26 July) was well-prepared as a joint venture. In an ideal world, we would all have sat down to dine like gourmets at some stage, but wine and crisps had to be our only bodily sustenance as we listened to so many intelligent and affecting poems, served with great confidence. And libraries are not suitable for dinner parties anyway.
Hannah Stone gave us evidence of her increasing sophistication as she read from her second collection Missing Miles, published this year by Indigo Dreams. There are many references to the books in her canon, and a classical world is constantly shimmering somewhere on her horizon, with titles like ‘Penelope’ and ‘Hubris’ indicating an interest in the Greeks, though the Romans are there too: like any sophisticated poet, she has re-read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but the poem which deals with that is the very opposite of dusty and academic. It is clever and witty. She gives Ovid a convincing afterlife.
Twice-born Bacchus spent the rest of his natural
boozing and belching...
You can catch his devotee today;
he’ll be propping up the bar
after a session in the gym,
branded tee-shirt sculpting honed abs,
a regular Adonis in Adidas.
But it was the close autobiographical, the family stuff, which got to me most. Memories of her late father, who had dementia, to be specific. ‘Protection Racket’ links music from a Bechstein piano with a scene in her parents’ house when her mother ‘cajoles the unresponsive figure’ of her father after she has played some of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. That one was truly moving.
Patrick Lodge is the sort of world traveller who tends to be described as ‘inveterate’, but that would be wrong, and not just because of the cliché. He does not bore with his holiday snaps. He has a knack of putting his finger (his pen?) on all those details which can be recognised as aspects of our universal humanity, as, in his Valley Press collection Shenanigans, we look through his lenses at scenes in Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Wales, Cambodia and other destinations. He is the only poet I have met who has been translated into Vietnamese, and his poem on Cambodia’s equivalent of Auschwitz, ‘Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh’, written plainly and directly, addresses the reader and the listener with enormous force:
Look, a death pit
dug in a playground;
bone wrists still tied,
as if the dead
might see their killers,
But again, his early memories affected me the most. Before he read ‘Yiannis in His Bar’ he told us that the Yiannis in the title, who ‘conjures the punch of rock ‘n’ roll, the smell/ of patchouli and lust in the backstreets’ was a real character encountered on family visits to a Greek island, seen again many years afterwards, causing him to be strangely amazed at how he had grown old. And then there was the poem about his late father (‘a daydreamed man’), ‘Sure of Father: VE Day, 2015’ who was brought back to mind by a late-night film from 1942 and the Andrews Sisters singing ‘Don’t sit Under The Apple Tree’.
Great well-prepared event. Fantastic poetry. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Fantastic evening. Funny, moving, inspiring poems.
A well planned and progressive programme. A joy after so many mumbling, unprepared offerings.
An excellent night, and I was heeding their fine poems and their splendid readings
A lovely evocative evening of excellent poetry - a good and varied selection, enjoyed the evening very much.
Good to listen to both poets - sorry I couldn't stay for the second half.
They were both on their mettle. Hannah was in fine fettle and Patrick Lodge is no Splodge
I enjoyed these readings, would come more often if there were others.