Monday, 31 March 2014

Intimate and charming - Doug and Maria Sandle

A Pair of Sandles - House Event
4.30pm Sunday 30 March

Doug Sandle explained at the beginning of this charming, intimate house event that the LitFest's overall theme - Surviving - was going to be broadly interpreted, which was fine, of course. He said 'coping' was possibly a more appropriate word. The collected talent - himself, Maria Sandle, and poets Lis Bertola and Sheila Chapman - spent a pleasant hour and a quarter proving that he was right, not that it mattered that much. We sat drinking them in, helped by the wine and nibbles provided.

Maria Sandle
Maria Sandle selected items from her repertoire about the survival of the environment, the concept of nationality and deportees (the Woody Guthrie protest song about migrant Mexican fruit-pickers) and read several poems by her father, including one entitled Daffodils Revisited, a parody of the famous Wordsworth poem which was written in 2002 when Foot and Mouth Disease was rampaging through Britain. Its opening lines are 'I wandered lonely as a sheep'. She also read one of her own poems, written in the 1990s, about the survival of a little mouse.
Doug Sandle

Doug Sandle read a broad selection of his own poems, beginning with Journey by Boat and Train, which is an autobiographical narrative about how he first came to the city after being brought up in Douglas, Isle of Man. Douglas, the town after which he was named, was featured in one of two moving 'disaster poems',  about the terrible events of 1973, when fire spread through the Summerland leisure centre killing fifty people. The other poem in this genre was about the 1966 tragedy in South Wales, in which the line 'There are no children of nine in Aberfan' is repeated. The Retired Athlete is about ageing, and Auction of Promises was written after the poet promised to provide a poem as part of a  fund-raising campaign in aid of the Leeds Labour Party. We heard an amusing account of how the writing of this (for a man in his seventies) was put off until the very last moment. The poem was finally delivered, and received with gratitude and applause, from the recipient and from the current audience as well.

Lis Bertola

Lis Bertola told us that she had thought about the theme, and that she had decided that most of her poems are about surviving anyway: "Well, I am living to tell the tale!" She dipped into her knowledge of Greek mythology with Travelling to Ithaca, written after a holiday in Cefalonia during which she had taken the boat for a day-trip to the adjacent Ionian island where Penelope had waited patiently for Odysseus. A storm had threatened, and the poet had considered at one point whether lighting a candle to the sea god Poseidon might be a good idea. Her witty and heartfelt poem Team Spirit, about how she had dreaded the selection process for sports teams at school, written for last year's LitFest, was brought out again, to general audience approval.

Sheila Chapman
Sheila Chapman's poems are often inspired by her Irish origins, and in particular by the memory of her mother, who was brought up in a small village in the west of Ireland. It all chimed in well with Doug Sandle's preoccupation with his Manx origins. Her first poem was about the village, next to the sea, and her final one, entitled The Mermaid in Birmingham, was about how part of her mother's make-up was always back there on that coast, when she was out of the water and in a big city.

Audience comments:
1.     Lovely afternoon! The songs are lovely and the poems were interesting. Thank you.

2.     I found the poetry from Doug and the other readers very interesting but I particularly enjoyed Maria’s singing and her tape recordings.

3.     I was moved by two pieces in particular – the ‘button box’ poems and the Nanci Griffith song ‘blackbird’s wings’ – true survivors pieces to me – thank you

4.     Deportees – enjoyed hearing that song from Maria – it’s very relevant to today. Good to hear Lis B’s ‘Team Spirit’ again too. Certainly an enjoyable afternoon.

5.     Surviving: heavy theme. So glad Maria/Doug finished on a more upbeat note. Lovely singing Maria. Pleasant afternoon and some thought provoking poems read. Thanks, Butter Box

6.     Enjoyable blend of music and poetry – well played and well read – thought provoking and amusing in a friendly environment.

7.     I nearly didn’t come as I knew I would be a few minutes late and would probably not know anyone. So glad I did – so many images painted with word and music. Welcomed in and felt at ease.

8.     A very enjoyable afternoon with varied poets, lovely singing and original and humorous words. In touch with feelings, imagination and life.

9.     Enjoyed the songs and poetry, in a pleasant, informal environment, and we were made to feel very welcome. Thanks very much.

10.  Very friendly informal place to listen to beautiful singing and very interesting poetry. I enjoyed the different poets’ work and could have listened to more from all of them. A strong confident voice of the singer, I am going to buy the CD.

11.  Enjoyed this event – the mix of poetry and music. It was a very relaxing, convivial afternoon and the standard of poetry and singing was very high. Atmosphere friendly and beautiful song, as well as poems by Doug, Lis and Sheila. Good that one could buy a CD of songs by Maria.

No comments:

Post a Comment