Naked Violence Travels – Valley Press Poets

30 Sep

Last night, the Valley Press Poets shrugged off poetry’s sometime image of daffodils and pretty birds and found the fun in Gothic horror and time-travelling violence.

Kelley Swain from Rhode Island USA, for instance, is very well travelled in the nude.
I’m not being rude.

She’s a life model, immortalised on many walls in paint, pencil and charcoal (or forgotten in a dusty attic or moldering shed). How many versions of her are there? Up it sticks a couple of graphite fingers to selfies, anyhow.

In her official capacity as the Naked Muse she’s been on the radio and argued with the artist (also) conversely famous for his clothes, Grayson Perry, and wrote a book about her experiences. But first, she took us to 18th century Florence and the Museum of Physics and National History with its anatomically correct wax sculptures, the models cast from actual body parts. She describes this as Frankenstein crossed with Pygmalion.

Also travelling, Jonathon Davidson from the Midlands and previously round here, looked back to a 16th century tourist, violence-obsessed lord of the manor Humfrey Coningsby. Jonathon recited mostly from memory, for which I have somewhat of a soft spot.

(I’m reading my ten-year-old Lord of the Rings and I love the pre-1950s cultural references of elevenses and handkerchiefs and especially when Samwise Gamgee, miles from home, stands up, hands clasped behind his back in some Sauron-desolated hellhole, and recounts a rousing hobbit verse about elfs [sic]. It’s good delivery, and it shows effort.)

I say we went back to the 16th century but Jonathon was playing the ‘what if?’ game with Humf; what if, when he disappeared in real life, he never died but went on for centuries with his misanthropic psychotic travels? In cars and punctured bicycles? To places like Aleppo? Poetry and commentary for those who take their humour black, which I do.

Malene Engelund from Denmark said she couldn’t take credit for one of her poems, ‘it offered itself to me’ by a patois-talking female voice. An interesting idea, treating your muse as a independent being. Now that’s dumping your writing ego.

I had trouble with Malene’s delivery. It was that dreamy style that lots of poets adopt when (perhaps) they aren’t confident reading their work. Is this because when poetry is written, it’s about how it looks on the page? Do poets think, when they read their work, ‘that’s not how it sounded in my head?’ Or maybe many poems sound dreamy? * Fortunately her imagery was stronger than her delivery: ‘everything smells of sky and that impossible autumn’. A listener to my left whispered ‘I like that’ and I agreed.

Valley Press Poets Malene, Kelley and Jonathan read at the Richard Jefferies Museum, 29 September 2016 as part of day one of the Poetry Swindon Festival.

Malene read from The Wild Gods, Kelley from The Naked Muse and Opera di Cera, Jonathan from Humfrey Coningsby: poems, complaints, explanations and demands for satisfaction.

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison. Photos by Jennifer Berry.

*I recommend as practice reading Lord of the Rings to a ten-year-old who, in the middle of dramatic dialogue (when you forget, cos, you know, you’re tired and want to dribble in front of a TV drama), makes such complaints as ‘that’s the wrong voice!’


One Response to “Naked Violence Travels – Valley Press Poets”

  1. poemogram 1st Oct 2016 at 12:05 am #

    bloody good photos Jennifer …

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