Poetry 2

The important bit!

Poetry 2 meets monthly on the fourth Thursday of each month at 2 pm.  We normally meet at Middlecombe House, Middlecombe, but while COVID restrictions are in place, we are meeting online, using Zoom.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by  Helen Sellings, and she may be contacted at 01643 703729, or by email at poetry2@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk

About the group

We are a small group of like-minded people who enjoy reading and listening to poetry.  This group developed as an off shoot from Poetry 1 when that group became too big, and we have been thriving ever since.  We normally have a monthly theme which is democratically decided by all members of the group and can be anything from reading the work of one particular poet or choosing from a wide and diverse range of subjects.  The poems discussed include Victorian, Edwardian, and contemporary.  The subject matter can be anything from seasonal, romantic, full of pathos, metaphysical to humorous – we enjoy it all!  Anyone with a love of poetry is most welcome to join us.

Latest news 2021

May.    Our theme for next month will be Time/Thyme – it will be interesting to discover how many poems are written in relation to this subject.

April.   We had a wonderful afternoon filled with fun and laughter, very much in keeping with our theme for this month which was humour.  A particular favourite was the contemporary poet, Les Barker, with poems about frustration regarding the late delivery of snails, and his view of sex being better than poetry.  ‘Growtiger’s Last Stand‘ by T.S. Elliot brought much amusement, along with Rupert Brooke’s clever depiction of heaven for fish.  Our  very own in-house poet, Michael, recited his very funny poem called ‘Meeting Henry‘, based on a true life event.  We also enjoyed Edward Lear’s nonsense poem ‘Owl and the Pussy-Cat‘, and John Betjeman’s poem about his muse, Joan Hunter Dunn.  A number of contemporary poets, too many to mention by name, have written refreshing poems about Brexit, psychotherapy, chocolates, and the wearing of masks.  Our stimulating afternoon clearly dispelled any myths that poetry is always serious!  

March.     Spring is a particularly evocative season, with nature effortlessly returning, following the cold, dark months of winter.  Buds bursting into life, barren trees and hedgerows colouring, new life skipping in fields, and the sky a throng of busy bees, birds, and glorious birdsong.  The beauty and wonder of nature is captured by writers, painters, and poets alike.  Shakespeare celebrates Spring in a number of his plays.  John Clare describes Spring as luscious meadows and the pleasant chill in the air, with the welcome pale sunbeams, that are not too harsh.  Vita Sackville-West, considered by some to be an under-appreciated poet, wrote about Spring in the Kentish countryside.  Spring cannot be mentioned without including the widely popular poem by William Wordsworth ‘The Daffodils.’  This poem never fails to move or inspire.

February.     Valentine’s Day was not lost on us!  We spent a glorious afternoon reading and discussing poems in relation to love.  Whilst reading a wide collection of poems, it was very evident that the topic of love has been written from many different perspectives.  Some poets write about love beyond the grave, others write of nature and quiet solitude and many of overwhelming desire and passion.

John Clare and Robert Burns were clear favourites, but we also appreciated poems by John Keats, Christina Rossetti, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Not forgetting our very own bards Eileen-Ann and Michael, who delighted us all by reciting their own work.

Eileen Ann’s poem ‘Exmoor So Fair‘ and Michael’s poems ‘Valentine’s Day‘ and ‘I care‘ can be found below.

January.     During the cold and dismal weather of January, we were able to feel warmth and comfort by exploring poetry in relation to ancient customs and traditions.  Some of us learnt that the Wassail ‘Be Healthy‘ from Carhampton is the oldest in the country, stemming back to Anglo-Saxon times.  It is not surprising that there are large number of poems capturing Wassailing and the drinking of warm spiced cider.

Other traditions celebrated by poetry included hunting and Morris dancing; the latter is thought to have originated in the European courts.  John Clare wonderfully describes festivities in relation to St. Martin’s Eve, making us all feel warm and cosy with his roaring fires in the hearth.  John Keats added romance with his evocative poem ‘The  Eve of St Agnes‘, 20th January, traditionally the night when girls wishing to dream of their future husbands perform certain rituals before going to bed.

2020

The uncertainties of last year posed a challenge to us all. As a group of like-minded people, we derived most pleasure from getting together and discussing favourite poems. Once meetings were forced to stop, we had to think of alternative ways of keeping together. After a somewhat hesitant start, we embraced Zoom technology and haven’t looked back since! Our monthly themes continued with such added innovation as listening to wonderful poems written by members of the group, singing poems that have been set to music, sharing historical information and participating in lively debate; as well as reading, reciting and appreciating all the well known
classics. During our session later this month we’ll be looking at poetry related to ancient customs and traditions. We are all looking forward to the time when we can meet in person, but in the meantime we are very grateful that modern technology has enabled us to continue.

New members are always most welcome to come and join us!

December   Staying very much in the festive mood our theme will be traditions associated with this time of year – I can almost smell the mulled wine!

“My subject is war, and the pity of war.  The poetry is in the pity.”  So said the Great War poet, Wilfred Owen.  It was with some sobriety that, in November, we read the work of many Great War poets – including Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, and Bristol born poet Izaac Rosenberg.  We also discussed the ramifications of war as identified in the wonderful Vera Brittain’s moving poem, The Superfluous Woman.  It was interesting to hear a rendition of A.E. Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad poem, that has been cleverly set to music and expertly delivered by Jim.  Our thought provoking afternoon was then very aptly closed with Eileen Ann reading her own work titled Peace in Minehead.

November  We all thought that finding poetry relating to drinking would pose a challenge, but last month we were totally surprised to find a wealth of poetry ranging from classical to contemporary. We discovered work that was full of warnings and pathos, and other work that was hilarious. Two of us alighted on ‘John Barleycorn’, the well-known ballad by Robert Burns. The highlight of the afternoon was Eileen Ann’s clever poem, written especially for our session, titled ‘Would Gin Help Covid-19?’. The poem can be heard (yes, heard!) or read on this new website. Listening to or reading the poem will definitely brighten up a dark December day!  Helen Sellings

October  This month, we conducted a Zoom session looking at poems relating to autumn. Popular choices included the Brontë sisters, Keats, Shakespeare and Robert Burns. We were also privileged to hear poetry written by our very own bards, Eileen Ann and Michael. Many autumnal poems depict harvesting, old traditions and local customs. Living in Somerset, we couldn’t forget the very ancient custom of wassailing, leading very nicely to next month’s theme: Drinking!  Helen Sellings

Earlier Our August virtual discussion was related to poetry involving the sea.  The poems we discussed included Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary poetry – including the work of Keats, Kipling, Masefield, Sir John Betjeman, and our very own Eileen Ann, who recited her beautiful poem, ‘Making a Difference’.  It was of interest to some of us to learn that the poems ‘Sea Fever’ and ‘Crossing the Bar’ have both been set to music.  Our meeting fittingly concluded with Jim singing us out to ‘Crossing the Bar’.  The theme for this month will be ‘Autumn’.  Helen Sellings

Our own work!

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