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Remembering a Poet

by on 11 July 2019

Lasting Gift of Comic Verse

Remembering a Poet

Performance Poetry, The Adelaide, Teddington, 7th July

Review by Celia Bard

The July meeting of the Poetry Performance Group was a poignant occasion following the tragic, accidental death of co-founder, Bob Sheed. Joint co-founder, Anne Warrington, opened the evenings programme by recalling the formation of Poetry Performance and Bob’s influential impact on the group. She followed this with readings including Address Book by Maggie Butt, who reflects on the dilemma of what to do with names written in an address book once those people have died.

BobSheed

Robin Clarke presented his own moving poetic tribute to Bob, providing a moving brief biographical account of many aspects of his life. On a lighter note was the reading of I’m a Little Teapot, taken from Bob’s collection of poems, It’s Not What You Think, a tongue in the cheek reflection on changing social habits and etiquette. Graham Harmes then performed another of Bob’s numerous humorous poems The Lawyer, a poem that beautifully demonstrates Bob’s talents as a wordsmith, and how highly articulate people can use words to manipulate and outmanoeuvre people.

In contrast Judith Blakemore Lawton delivered Bob’s parody poem Unstoppable, a new twist on the Dutch story of the boy who plugged the hole in the dyke with his finger. In this version his efforts are rewarded with a good walloping from his father. The first half of the evening concluded with Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale, splendidly read by Ann Vaughan Williams, bringing the group back to the reality of contemplating Bob’s sad death.

Heather Montford, our MC for the evening, opened the second half with her poem No Golden Glory, the last line resonating with Bob’s work that like the chestnut tree, it will survive. Breaking the mood was Tony Josolyne’s delivery of his poem The Casting Couch, a humorous warning to those auditioning for theatrical, TV or film roles. The next performers were Vicki and Chris Naylor. Vicki gave us her shortlisted poem Another Time from the Roger McGough competition and printed in the Arts Richmond About Time anthology, a poem alive with fiery images, whilst Chris amused us with his rendition of Bob Sheed’s Gender Balance in which Golom, the hermaphrodite, thinks he had the right to use both the Ladies and the Gents toilets. Stephen Harman then gave us his historical I See No Ships, a reflection of Nelson’s last battle, cleverly written in rhyming verse. Following this was Barbara Lees self-reflective poem: I See Myself – What Do I See, a refrain that was echoed throughout each of the stanzas.

Steve White read two poems written by his late wife, Frances: Pink Fluff and Red Hat Band. These two poems seemed so appropriate to the occasion – particularly poignant as Frances only died a few months ago and regularly attended Poetry Performance sessions. In the same vein Carol Wain presented The Planting of Trees in Southern Scotland, a poem from her poetry collection More Poems for Alice, inspired by the loss of her much loved, gifted daughter who was killed in 2000. Heather Montford concluded this somewhat reflective session with Fallen Leaf.

Although the subject matter of the evening was greatly influenced by memories of Bob Sheed and others who have departed this life, the prevailing mood was uplifting, brought about by the humour in many of Bob’s poems. Members of Poetry Performance were as much celebrating his gift of comic verse and laughter as his sad loss.

Celia Bard
July 2019

Photography courtesy of the Bob Sheed estate

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