Tag Archives: Claire Dyer

Final readings: Ante, Dautch, Estruch, Commane & Dyer

8 Oct

Sunday afternoon started with Jane Commane introducing readings from the Primers 3 poets. Primers is an annual scheme run by Nine Arches Press in conjunction with the Poetry School, in which three poets are selected to be mentored over several months, culminating with an anthology. Each year Jane is joined by a guest judge, in the case of Primers 3 it was Hannah Lowe. Jane explained they were looking for fresh poetry talent with big potential, but also voices that sat well with one another. This reading was the last of the Primers 3 group of poets, with the announcement about this year’s new intake (Primers 4) coming very soon.

Romalyn Ante

Romalyn Ante

The first reader was Romalyn Ante who has already won some major prizes including the Manchester Poetry Prize 2017 and the Poetry London Clore Prize in 2018. Originally from the Philippines, Romalyn came to the UK when she was 16 and now works as a nurse. Her poems spoke movingly of what it means to move to another country  – what we take with us and what we leave behind, what happens to family who remain, dealing with the loneliness and frustration of navigating a different culture and other issues.

Here Romalyn reads ‘Antiemetic for Homesickness’:


Aviva Dautch

Aviva Dautch

Aviva Dautch opened by explaining that her poems in the anthology came from the experience of her mother’s chronic hoarding, and that she was grateful to have found the Primers scheme as it wasn’t an age-barred opportunity. Aviva gave a lively and intense reading.

Here she reads ‘The House’:


Sarala Estruch

Sarala Estruch

The final Primers poet to read was Sarala Estruch, whose poems explored the issues faced by her parents as migrants, the bitter reality that they faced in 1970s London, cross-cultural relationships and her own lived experience, “knowing love carries more weight than the human tongue…”

Here’s Sarala reading ‘England: A Love Story, or The English Dream’:


Jane Commane was then joined by Claire Dyer for the final reading sets of the Festival.

Claire Dyer

Claire Dyer

Claire is one of those talented multi-talented authors who writes not only fine poetry but very successful novels. She read for us a number of poems from her collection Interference Effects (Two Rivers Press, 2016) opening with the lovely ‘Aubade’, a poem for her husband.

Here she reads ‘Talking to a Dead Horse’:


Jane Commane

Jane Commane

Jane Commane had a busy day – in the morning she led an intense workshop on editing. She’s clearly someone who prepares thoroughly but also radiates experience. In her roles as editor and publisher I imagine her to be a very safe pair of hands. But she’s also a fine poet. Jane read from her new collection Assembly Lines (Bloodaxe), including ‘Unweather’, an intense sequence/response to Brexit, full of fire (and ire). I think one or two of us wanted to clap at the end but no-one dared disturb the awed atmosphere.

Here is Jane introducing and reading ‘The Shop Floor Gospel’:

High Wire Act: Poems in Flight at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

2 Oct

Three woman poets – Claire Dyer, Susan Utting and Lesley Saunders – today gave a collaborative reading High Wire Act: Poems of Flight, a project of coming together over mutual respect of each others’ work. Sharing their work spread out on a table, they realised they had a common theme of birds and escape.

Their work ranged from the descriptive to the metaphorical, meanings deep within the verse or a story easily grasped; all beautifully read. About the first moon landing, love, the life balancing act performed by women, inspired by art, deceased mothers and the sadness of a stuffed bird. (One beleaguered male audience member commented, ‘With three woman poets I was worried it would be yucky, it wasn’t’. Perhaps he was expecting Jo Brand-style pieces about periods?)

Inspired by Lesley Saunders’ poem, A Sheep, a Duck and a Cockerel, I thought I’d pen my own piece. Lesley’s poem is about the development of flight, from those first animals who – in test dummy fashion – took to the sky in a balloon, to the casual, routine journey of flight today.

I really liked the line: ‘looking is always an act of desire.’

Lesley describes Kittenger’s record-breaking fall from the sky back in the 1960s and I remembered how fascinated I was with Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric fall in 2012 which set new records.

Yes, perhaps the money invested in setting up Felix’s stunt could have been better used on feeding starving orphans, but here was a hero we could look up to (I know, pun) who tested the limits of the human body and psyche on our behalf. And who was a man driven, obsessed, not with being a new record holder, but just with falling that far.

For him, looking was not just an act of desire but of looking into the very heart of fear.

The Descent

He strove for years.
Loved the freedom of falling;
The atmosphere like a storm
Resistance versus mass like the friend of my friend.

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