Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Bell, Boats and Poetry"

This is a painting by Cornish artist Michael Praed; I first saw his work in the Capstan Gallery at Sennen Cove, several years ago. And having visited a Boat Museum last week, it seemed particularly relevant... BUT I digress:

Jo Bell is a pretty AND ( I'm pretty sure) feisty young woman and Jo Bell writes good poetry.
It reflects both herself and her generation, her super use of language... and it gives a peep into her view of the world, with both its pains, its pleasures...
Last Thursday ( World Book Day) Cheshire Poet Laureate Jo launched her latest anthology:" Navigation" at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port. I'd met her last summer when she ran a workshop at the Salt Museum, Northwich ( my post June 2nd ) which was enjoyed by all.
The Boat Museum ( ) is a fabulous venue for Jo; she loves boats, in fact she lives on one the other side of the county.. and the Museum's wide open internal spaces plus its situation by the Shropshire Union Canal, couldn't have been bettered for both practicality and atmosphere. AND we were also feted with rather a tasty supper before Jo's readings...

AND THEN we saw vivid images:
Jo writing on love: it came "like a blow to the neck"... and about ourselves: "we carry our lives, like overcoats over our arm, ready for rain" and Jo's glimpses of people and places: " a clean-faced woman pulling upstream in a blade-like boat" when "the Trent was pewter-pink, all innocence" .
In another poem, we read of schooldays, when "Mark Davidson could undo a bra strap with one hand", when she learned " to kiss like eels fighting" and "talk like a miner's wife" and when Jo discovered ( as we all eventually do) that " I was on my own"..
There's a sense of place too: the Welsh travelling on roads other side of the Wirral estuary: "soft salt-darkened roads" where " birds are settling like miner's ghosts"..where there are " lights in dark Welsh hills" and we'll wonder, as we did last night, what they're doing over they'll wonder: "what we're doing over here".....

But my favourite lines are from " Andrew's garden" when Jo was:
"...sent for mint, and came back in
to wood smoke and calm oboes;
hopeful as the cat"...

Wood smoke and calm oboes; a mantra for peacefulness, if ever there was one..


Blogger marlyat2 said...

Lovely post, Jan.

Now there's proper behavior for a poet. I'll have to get a little dinghy and paddle the remains of the Erie Canal...

2:02 pm  
Blogger gee said...

Hi Jan
I love Michael Praed's work too- I'm a pushover for his form's absolute clarity- and if I could move from piece to piece in fiction half so well, I'd be beyond smug.
hope the writing's progressing.
good wishes Gee

9:15 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Sounds good to me!
Im not sure, though, whether there IS "proper behaviour" for a poet?"

What a nice surprise to hear from you!
I know just what you mean re M Praed's work..the clarity, as you say...and that's something writers strive for too, I suppose..
Hmm. AS for my writing! HA! Ive NO EXCUSE now for my abject lazzzziness; my classes have finished and from now on, I'm supposedly using those 2 days to get down to it..
Look forward to hearing from you again.

8:19 am  

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