On a reading for Read to Write

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading some of my poems to Doncaster’s writing group Read to Write in Balby Library. I read for about 25 minutes and then, after a break, we had a Q&A session. It was my first in-person reading since I read for Fen Speak in Ely in February 2020, a couple of weeks before the first Covid lockdown. Here’s a picture of me reading from The Evening Entertainment, taken by Tracy Day Dawson and used with her kind permission:

The brilliant poet Ian Parks, whose Selected Poems is forthcoming from Calder Valley Poetry, founded Read to Write in Mexborough seven years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength. Its activities include workshopping sessions and, as its name implies, reading and analysing texts by great writers, including an ongoing project to read all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays.

The week before my reading, I went to a Saturday afternoon fundraiser for Ukraine at Doncaster Ukrainian Centre Club, at which Ian, Sarah Wimbush (the organiser) and Joe Williams were the featured poets among an open mic session of most of the Read to Write regulars and other poets from further afield, beautifully MC’d by Mick Jenkinson. I’d recently read Sarah’s marvellous Bloodaxe collection, Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands, available here, having previously enjoyed and admired her pamphlet Bloodlines, so hearing her read from it was a delight. The whole afternoon was a pleasure. As ever with open mics, you never know quite what you’re going to get, but in this instance, the overall standard was refreshingly high.

Despite practising beforehand, I felt a bit ‘ring-rusty’ when I read at Balby, but the group were so warm and lovely that any nerves I had soon vanished. The questions were good ones and kept me firmly on my toes – they’re a very knowledgeable group. Up and down the UK, local groups are the lifeblood of poetry, especially for those who are just starting out, and might not have read or written poetry since they were at school. In this case, the group impressively encompasses writers at different points on their poetry journey. I hope to get along regularly to the group’s sessions once I have a bit more time, which I hope to have later this year.

My thanks to Ian for the invitation and to him and all the group for being so welcoming.

One thought on “On a reading for Read to Write

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