Thursday, 25 February 2010

An afternoon in Brighouse

Had a lovely couple of hours at Brighouse Library this afternoon reading from Bedrock, the sequence of poems that covers four generations of one family. Because I had a good idea who to expect there (I was poet in residence in Calderdale three/four years ago and started a poetry reading group at the library) I'd decided on earlier poems from the sequence, covering the turn of the nineteeth century, suffrage, the first world war, ending with a blossoming post war romance that would leave them with the next generation.

And I chose right. They were extremely attentive, laughed and nodded sagely throughout (even the women who'd told me at the start how much she loved rhyming poetry). I'd factored in a Q&A session afterwards and that lasted far longer than I'd anticipated, talking about the people of the poems, the wider family and how I researched it. This got them talking about their own experiences of researching family histories, how they dealt with what they uncovered and what they were interested in social history.

I'd asked them to bring their own poems on family, only three did, and so that was where we ended, a wider view of what the institution of family means to us. Lovely lovely.

I'd made these little freebies to accompany the reading for people to takeaway.

I'd shown them to various friends and had had mixed responses to them, so was uncertain how they'd go down, but they were snaffled up. I think there was interest since the poem on them was from the sequence, by one of the characters they'd already heard from.

So all in all a great way to spend a murky aternoon in February, and a tribute to the power of poetry of how it unites, disarms and enpowers us. Something I constantly marvel at when I sit in a room with a bunch of people to talk about it.

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