The Three Counties Showground was proposed as an interesting setting for a poetry place, where visitors would be invited to help raise the awareness of poetry along with local poet Miriam Obrey who would lead writing workshops for all abilities.
A reading of poetry produced during my time at The Three Counties Showground took place on Thursday 25th May. It was well attended with writers reading their own poems and work of those who were unable to come. It was suggested that the end of my placement could mark the beginning of a new phase for the Showground Poetry Place.
Having been given the go-ahead to use the Leadon Pavilion for ongoing poetry functions, several writers have shown an interest in the possibility of leading the occasional writing workshop. I'd be very happy to organise this and in the meantime will continue to display poems submitted in our permanent display case.
The workshops themselves were well attended also and covered events including a boat jumble Where a great maritime people/ and a nation of shopkeepers/ come to terms with each other as Don Barnard noted on a day that Dave Reeves found as blustery as the first line of 'Hornblower'.
At an antiques fair John Alcock discovered maps with old routes/ mapped long ago/ as so many here today/ testify in Severn Hall/ rerunning dinky dreams along time-bleached roads/ over Meccano bridges/ to their once upon a time.
While Chris Milne the chief executive of the Three Counties Agricultural Society was away holidaying in Marrakech, I observed Oceans away,/ beyond the blue-glass eyes and camelhide of the kazbah,/ another spectacle was set in the lee of two Beacons/ where Nigel, Anette and Mike were busy conjuring/ their magic sequence; printing up a stack of tickets,/ matching paper cups and cans of 7-up to projected numbers;/ checking barriers while pacing out a safety distance/ far from the cous-cous, calabashes and gold dust of Africa -/ in preparation for the pig roast and fireworks display.
At the Autumn Show Hilary Jayne heard a judge remark, 'Ray the first' with royal fingered emerald beans/ And please salute the champion Charlie grew./ And can you hear another cheer? Ray wins again -// His lengthy flags of splendid green have topped/ The other super-leeks. So Hopton near Stafford/ Raise your glass to these proud men, parade/ Their horticultural skills - and drink to Ray and Charlie's// Most meretricious Vegetables.
At a horse sale David Hart wrote: Once slaves were bought and sold like this, led in, paraded, talked up,/ bid for, contracted on the hammer, and led out again.// I have a great urge/ to put up my hand, to leap it up. And I, Miriam, wondered about the value of a pink snip/ on the nose of a starless, soft-lipped mare./ The sock-count system;/ when to try, buy or shy clear of a colt. And I found that a walleye was not, as commonly thought,/ a mean eye,/ but a priceless marble set in the head of a horse.
The last event of my placement was recorded by Phil McKelliget. The Malvern Spring Show// Is a pause button. Press it/ And Spring halts./ All that head-long, fast-forward,/ Free-fall and tremble of green/ And greenish-yellow unfurling/ Stuff of Spring is held/ In freeze-frame, in glazed/ Perfection and poise. And we/ Blur through as though/ A tulip windscreen, grasping/ Desperate handfulls of columbines,/ Garden sheds, secateurs, waffles,/ Handholds perhaps, before the whole/ Machinery fires up and spring/ Accelerates past, burning out/ As it re-enters the heavy/ Atmosphere of summer.
- Miriam Obrey
Poetry writing workshops were scheduled alongside the November Collectors' Toy Fair, the February Boat Jumble, the March Auto Jumble and Classic Motorcycle Show, the April Horse Sale and the May Spring Gardening Show. The placement culminated in a Poetry Party which gave everyone who participated a chance to read a poem.
I'm pleased both with the response I've had from poets and by the work that's coming in. The press release last month brought in a trickle of writers. What I'd like to see also are some workshops for young people, maybe in one of the local schools; also workshops for members of the public who have never written but would like to. This is something that may come out of the Malvern poetry placement.
I have discovered the totally-new-to-me Market Traders' Language.
Following are several poems produced during these workshops.
for Rebecca Sherriff
Ulfwi the heavy flank'n' brisket. Deep chested
wi a dewlap wot pollinates the buttercups;
wi a tail wot slaps the bot-flies. Big-hearted
wi a coat wot glisters rich chocolate in the rain
an' a crop'v curls sprung tight as budding ferns.
Oy'd gi'the the scurs off me yud for winters
wi silage an' cattle-cake, up to me belly
in oat straw an' seed-hay, indoors. Fer spring
an' the sun on me rump. Fer Lucerne
an' lush-puggings; young shoots uv 'atherns,
the buzz uv clover an' the flush uv meadowgrass
from fust cuckoo on to fust October frost,
'ere wi Fancy, Snowdrop, Nip an' th'others.
Fer the red dust'v Pensax oy kicks up
when oy pounds the ground'n bellocks back
at thot lairy auld Welsh Black over Rock way;
when oy cowses me 'ayfers round the field
an' rides 'em, steaming, up the 'adland.
Soon as oy be done'a-that, oy muntles aarf
to suck the coolth from a water trow,
then settles back among me cows an' calves.
And as evening turns to milk - when the sun
slips behind us like a vixen - we drops
among the hatching crane flies, me an them,
in the scutch te chew us cud. An' th'only sound
te break the rythm of us belch'n-graanch'n-swaller
be that'v a tractor chunterin' back 'wurn,
an' th'old cock pheasant caark-caarkin' up te roost.
For Mr. Bassett and Mr. Maisey
Mr. Bassett's leeks and beans
Haven't been beaten yet
Or Mr. Maisey's cucumber catching the light
On long black tables -
Charlie's truncheon, a plate of perfect beans,
Ray's cornucopia of mermaid flags
The interlock of pearly skins
Green to luminescent white leading the swim
To the annual prize
Strengthened by Ray's liquid summer brew,
The nightly potash after June.
How wise they seem, these men
In matters mineral or vegetable -
Green-fingered inspectors feeding their seedlings
Through rain or drought
Demolishing the fly and visiting slug
With an eye on cats or feathers
With their vandal beaks
Til autumn's measure checks the growth
Along the weather watching weeks
And a Malvern judge proclaims
'Ray's the First' with royal fingered emerald beans
And please salute the champion Charlie grew.
And can you hear another cheer? Ray wins again -
His lengthy flags of splendid green have topped
The other super-leeks. So Hopton near Stafford
Raise your glass to these proud men, parade
Their horticultural skills - and drink to Ray and
Most Meritricious Vegetables
Exhibited near these copper-brackened Malvern Hills.
I have a turkey in my pocket.
And as the world slips back
we two spin on, straight
as a turkey flies, following the sun
as it trips and bleeds
across the ridge of Abdon Burf.
A goose hisses under my pillow
and as the moon floats beyond the window;
as it wobbles across the sky to sit out the night
on the crest of the Beacon,
it is God's eye that stops to blink
through a crack in the curtains.
I have a light Sussex hen in the toe of my sock
and know that between Malvern's Sugar Loaf
and the foot of the Brown Clee Hills
the cocks of Worcestershire and Shropshire
will crow from the edge of night as it pools
below the dead and dying stars of the Mulky Way.
And the woman that lies snug
here in the curve of my life line
carries enough corn to feed them all.
And I know that under her chipped blue frock
the soles of her feet,
her heart and her guts are burnished lead.
(Toy Collectors' Fair, 26 March 2000)
Carve me a tree. Hurry,
while we sing in the ginger cup.
Let the dog and the partridge worry!
Carve me a tree. Hurry,
for the marmalade smells like slurry
and the lamp-post time is up.
Carve me a tree. Hurry,
while we sing in the golden cup.