John Davies Director of Pighog Press hosts Pighog Plus at the wonderful Red Roaster coffee house. He talks about Pighog’s commitment to female poets and tonight there are four. Janet Sutherland, Sonya Smith, Rachel Rooney and Jackie Wills sharing their work.
Rachel Rooney kicks off reading from her book of poems for children called ‘The Language of Cat’ full of gems for young and old. She tells us she hopes sales on Amazon are not made to old ladies who may think all the poems are about cats because they are not. The poem about the Russian Doll peels back the layers of being ‘there is another me’ there is a ‘grass is greener me’ etc. There is a poem about the gingerbread man and another about girls wanting to grow up to be mermaids.
Her set of poems after the interval was written for adults but they have not been published. There is a great one that came about with Rachel trying to find a solution to a problem and searching for God on google. Brilliant. Lovely poet, beautiful poetry. Felt compelled to buy her book of poems for children which I will happily read myself.
All true as she presented us with both old and new poems. One about a long journey to Chile with her partner. ‘Unspoken’ was about things we don’t say, a poem about a conversation with her father unexpected. Sonya likes stepping into the unknown which became apparent after the break with a series of poems with a surreal quality.
Catherine Smith has described Sonya’s poetry as ‘deliciously clever and subtle poems are as sensuous as swans’ feathers and sharp as barbed wire. This is poetry that finds both delight and pain in the physical world, embracing both frost and heat, the soft cheek and the hard bark’. Catherine was also in the audience tonight.
Janet Sutherland began writing her book about ‘Bone Monkey’ when her mother-in-law started to show signs of dementia. Whatever the reason, this was a compelling set. It explores the deeply mischievous, but darkly malevolent figure of Bone Monkey. He is a trickster, one of the old gods who sprang to life fully formed. He is can be ‘perpetrator and poet, murderer and lover, gardener and carer’.
She starts with a poem about Bone Monkey walking into a forest to encounter two choices of gift and contrives to get both of them, Moves on to exploration of his skin, a visit to the river, an experience in an airing cupboard. Intriguing poems, some humorous but all drawing one the inner world of Bone Monkey and his predicaments. She reads with the lightest of touch, uses many poetic forms including two sonnets.
Jackie Wills tells us that one of her poems about her brother took ten years to write, the tenderness in this poem reaches out and touches the listener. She also tells us that most of her poems are about people who have died for example one about her father who was an engineer, full of careful observations. Isn’t it strange how often poets are drawn to write about their fathers?
Jackie also reads from ‘Woman’s Head is Jug’, which has poems about women’s work, the menopause and managing to make the latter appear hilarious at times. There are poems about Brighton and what she describes as odds and sods. Her Brighton poems tend to have environmental themes such as pollution but she also has political poems, one featuring a trip to South Africa. The sheer variety, lyrical quality of her language and the topics covered leaves one in awe of her talents.
All in all a really good night for Pighog Plus complete with a raffle drawn by Catherine Smith with poetry book prizes!
These nights are organised and usually hosted by Michaela Ridgway, but tonight she simply had the pleasant task of looking after the poets. She does however have another event coming up soon, ‘The Interpreter’s House’ launch of issue 56. Twelve different poets and some open mic slots too on June 12th. 7.45 for 8 p.m. £5 and £3 for concessions. This is in addition to the regular Pighog Plus the last Thursday in the month. Note however no Pighog Plus in July or August.
Last but not least one has to mention the lovely welcome offered by Red Roaster Coffee house. Drinks and cake from friendly staff who also help to ensure the night maintains it’s happy atmosphere for anyone who enjoys the poetry scene in Brighton. As I have said before, you can go along to Pighog Plus on your own and still feel very welcome.
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