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Red Door Poets

by on 29 March 2021

Portal to Frank Insights

Red Door Poets

Red Door Poets, Chelsea, On-Line, 28th March

Review by Heather Moulson 

We’re all resigned to Zoom now, and at first we found it soulless and somewhat lonely.  However, I feel we’re a lot more comfortable with this concept now. I don’t stand to attention for it anymore!   Now though Zoom has reconciled itself.  Settling down on-line last night I was treated to an evening of wonderful poetry with the Red Door Poets. I felt relaxed and at ease as the session opened with some skilful guitar music from Chris Hardy. 

I had had the joy of seeing him perform with Little Machine when they supported Roger McGough at the Landmark a couple of years ago. His gentle and skilled guitar playing eased us into the strong and detailed poetry ahead.

Introduced by the versatile and classy poet, Mary Mulholland, we were introduced to the first reader, Chris Hardy, who has a fourth collection Sunshine at the End of the World out now (published by Indigo Dreams).  This insightful poet gave us three amazing pieces.  His final poem recounted being a young boy cleaning people’s houses, and looking for gin when no-one was about: a firm and humorous look at human nature.

Chris then introduced Pratibha Castle, who I have had the privilege of hearing at Write Out Loud Woking, and more recently at Poetry Performance.  This magical and prolific poet gave us two very strong pieces involving cockroaches coming out of a fridge (!), plus rats were also involved.  A strong stomach is worth having with this talented writer, whose second collection is coming out shortly.  Pratibha has also been commended in the Sentinel Poetry Competition. A poet to keep your eye on!

Elizabeth Horsley gave us three poems about her father who unfortunately had been touched by that cruel disease, dementia.   These were very poignant pieces with titles including And How Are You Today? and Buckingham Palace.  The latter reveals the pain of trying to call an ambulance in a desperate situation.  We were all moved by these very personal pieces.   

Elizabeth then introduced Mark Chamberlain, who is a hero of mine, having met him at  Soho Poets in 2018.  Now sadly defunct, Soho Poets was formerly an open door for some astounding talent. (Not quite sure how I got in there!)   A very thought-provoking poet, Mark read Skin and Snakes – two very personal and frank accounts of relationships. Extraordinarily detailed and physical, this poet’s talent is bottomless.

Clockwise from left: Mary Mulholland, Chris Hardy, Soul Patel

Mary Mulholland was most welcomed, a very high calibre poet and editor of The Alchemy Spoon.  Her reading of The Art of Daydreaming – an account of her colourful and late mother, and a personal favourite of mine – was received with awe.  This poem is featured in the current Poetry News, and I would strongly recommend a read.  It used to be handed out free at the Poetry Café but…..

I was also looking forward to Katie Griffiths, an Irish-Canadian poet, whom I’d heard great things about. She read Soil, Retreat and Scar Gazer. Her new collection The Attitudes is due out in April this year.  We can’t wait, Katie!   Katie was also awarded second prize in The National Poetry Competition in 2019.

Katie introduced Soul Patel, an outstanding poet who had been longlisted three times in the National Poetry Competition.  A young and frank poet who read three pieces focused on family.  Roadkill concentrated on his father’s surgery, and was so painfully graphic, there was an undercurrent of turning away, myself included. This did not make Soul any less welcome or impulsive however.

This was an hour that passed by quickly and was a huge success.  I myself felt very privileged to be in the audience of such award winning splendour.

Do keep an eye out for future readings from this wonderful group.  Originating from Pascale Petit’s poetry course at the Tate Modern, eight of the members formed the Red Door Poets. Another poet from this group is the vibrant Matthew Paul who I have enjoyed at Woking Write Out Loud and is author of a gritty collection The Evening Entertainment.  Watch out for him.  In fact, watch out for them all. 

Heather Moulson, March 2021

Photography by Brian Fuller, Peter Bowen, John Silver and Imogen North

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