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Virtual Fourth

by on 8 February 2021

Pain and Beauty of Perseverance

Virtual Fourth

Poetry Performance, On-Line, 7th February

Review by Melissa Syversen

Set against the backdrop of a cold, windy and snow-filled night, Poetry Performance gathered once more for a digital evening of language and poetry.  As an ever-increasing multitude of Covid variations continue to keep us cooped up inside, Poetry Performance, like many artists, have adapted and moved its meetings on to Zoom, as their usual meeting spot The Adelaide Pub remains off limits until further notice. 

This was my first introduction to Poetry Performance, an ‘open mic’ kind of gathering where amateurs and professionals alike can come along and share their own poems, work in progress or favourite verses by other writers.  It is a bit of an odd feeling to have our first meeting be a virtual one; I felt a bit like a fly on the wall, but it was clear from the start that Poetry Performance is a group that is warm, supportive and clearly passionate about poetry.  After a seemingly never ending year of dreadfulness, and being but a month away from the first anniversary of the start of the nation-wide lockdown, a meeting such as this was quite comforting.  I think many of us these days have a need to be able to gather and share some thoughts and words together, even if it is via zoom.

The host for the evening was Clive Rowland, who oversaw the event with lovely insight and encouraging words to all the participants throughout the evening.  He also led a wonderful conversation with the evening’s featured poet Greg Freeman.  I do have to mention however, that due to some unforeseen technical issues Clive was a bit delayed in joining the event in the beginning, which allowed Dr Heather Montford to skilfully step up and kick off the evening and lead us through wonderfully until Clive found an alternative laptop to join in.  No matter how well planned or professional an event might be, zoom will always find ways to keep us on our toes it seems. 

In an evening filled with humorous, touching and thoughtful pieces, Terry Bedell’s poem Home for Christmas was a beautiful standout for me.  I think it is a poem that will resonate with many having gone through the events of 2020.  It was a moving rumination on isolation, family and love during Covid-19 and the Holiday season.  I thankfully had my camera turned off during the event, as Home for Christmas made me well up with tears quite a bit.  According to the programme, this poem was originally meant to be read a bit later in the pre-set order.  However, due to some rearranging, Terry’s poem was the second poem performed, which was in a way a lovely happenstance as the piece seemed to capture the overall mood of the evening.  A uniquely warm and heartfelt yet somewhat melancholic tone that caps of a year filled with both pain and the beauty of perseverance. 

Indeed the concurrent themes of the evening seemed to circle around the pandemic and lockdown, the political tensions in the world, family and childhood, and in an oddly suitable manner, film.  My ears might have played a trick on me, but I seemed to pick up that the theme originally set for the evening was ‘Faded Beauty’.  Though not perhaps the most obvious through line of the evening, it was a theme delivered beautifully in Carol Wain’s poem Faded Beauty

inspired by the film and musical Sunset Boulevard and was shone through in Stephen Harmond’s poem Viv and Larry centred around Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier.  And there is something to consider: that the memory of childhood and thoughts of the past are, in their own way, a beauty that fades over time and can grow increasingly elusive.  How wonderful isn’t it then to have poetry to recapture and express some of that beauty through language?

The second part of the evening was centred loosely around the 75th anniversary of VE day and WW2.  Unfortunately, the many planned celebrations and markings of the historic occasion, like so many other events, have been delayed by the pandemic.  Hopefully as soon social distancing restrictions ease up, we will all be able to mark the day in a fitting manner and I hope that members of the Poetry Performance group will share some of their work when the time comes.  The evening’s featured poet, Greg Freeman had some wonderful poems on the subject.  His poems were based on events and letters belonging to his own family, which gave his work a sense of urgent and immediate intimacy.  Keith Wait’s poem Colour VE Day very effectively used the theme of colour to invoke living images of VE day, an event it is increasingly remembered from a distance through black and white footage in classrooms. 

The sweetest one for me was Connaire Kensit’s poem Reassurance, which captured the uncertainty of a child during war time and his family’s attempts to reassure him that there will always be family to care for him, were the unthinkable to happen.  It is a lovely point of view for a poem that captured both the love, the fear and the astuteness of children in times of crises. 

Poetry Performance meeting on Sunday was a successful evening all around, and I for one enjoyed my first attendance of a Poetry Performance event.  It strikes me as such a supportive group for both regulars and newcomers.  Indeed, another first time visitor, Daniel Haisley read not one but two poems last night, titled Hummingbird and Life and Rocky Path, both evocative and rhythmic verses.  If you have a poem or writing you would like to share or just to hear others share theirs, to gain some confidence and inspiration I would highly recommend joining Poetry Performance for their next meeting which will take place on 7th March, again I believe via Zoom. 

Though Zoom works wonderfully for workshops and public readings such as this, I do hope that Poetry Performance will be able to return to their regular meeting place soon.  When the time comes, hopefully it will be as if we never said if we never said goodbye almost a year ago.

Melissa Syversen, February 2021

Photography by Andy Lyman, PA and Jane Barnes

One Comment
  1. ANDREW EVZONA permalink

    I know you couldn’t mention all the poems read as there were too many of us but Anne Warrington’s New Neighbours poem certainly should be highlighted in your review also.

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