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Thursday, 3 January 2013

The poetry of connection

2012 was enjoyable for me because of opportunities to correspond with (and on occasion perform with) several poets.

Tim Cunningham has been called the poet of good endings and his apposite phrases serve to illuminate the everyday encounters which characterise his poetry. Analogy is the clue to Cunningham’s experience of faith. It is in the connections between ordinary existence and the Christ event that faith becomes real. A friend “a mere unlucky Thirteen years” collapses at play, dies and is lifted up across a wall into the garden that becomes the parent’s Gethsemene, the wall shaping their pieta. The statue of the Virgin “looks down at the girl stanching tiny / Dams of tears, the girl whose secret was not / Whispered by an angel in her ear.” The final poem in Kyrie finds Cunningham mute in a church that, apart from God and he, is empty. He is on hold, his turn missed at the exchange, but, he reasons, God will perhaps call him back, after all God has his number. The wry humour of Cunningham’s experience and verse reveals faith.

Jane Grell discovered the power of storytelling as a teacher of bilingual students. For her storytelling, she draws heavily from the African-Caribbean Oral Tradition of her childhood. She has worked extensively as a poet and storyteller in teacher training establishments as well as primary and secondary schools in Britain. She was a teacher-secondee to BBC School Radio as an adviser on the multicultural content of its output. While at the BBC, she also wrote and presented stories for schools' programmes. Jane has publications in Hawthorn Press, Scholastic and many poetry anthologies.

Cambridge poet, priest and singer-songwriter Malcolm Guite is Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge. A performance poet and singer/songwriter, he lectures widely on poetry and theology in Britain and the US and has a large following on his website, www.malcolmguite.wordpress.com. In Sounding the Seasons, Guite transforms seventy lectionary readings into lucid, inspiring poems, for use in regular worship, seasonal services, meditative reading or on retreat. Already widely recognised, his writing has been acclaimed by Rowan Williams and Luci Shaw, two leading contemporary religious poets. Seven Advent poems from this collection will appear in the next edition of Penguin's (US) Best Spiritual Writing edited by Philip Zaleski, alongside the work of writers such as Seamus Heaney and Annie Dillard.

The sacred, the profane and the prophetic come together in the work of Tamsin Kendrick. In Charismatic Megafauna Kendrick ponders the romantic potential of Peter Pan and Captain Hook, liberates Mr Tumnus from his snow-bound Narnia, composes urgent communiqu├ęs from a post-apocalyptic city, and documents the struggle to find love. Kendrick’s unique poetry is characterised by vivid, surreal imagery, brimming with references to myth, legend and pop culture, and underpinned by a genuine, if fraught, search for the divine.

Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in English with Creative Writing at University College Falmouth, and the editor of Stride and With magazines. He is the author of many books of poetry, including A Conference of Voices and Boombox, as well as several collaborative works; he also paints small abstract paintings. His latest publication, The Tower of Babel, is a limited edition hand-stamped book-in-a-box edited by Loydell, including a set of 24 original print postcards, an essay, and an anthology of poems.

Steve Scott is a British writer, poet, and musician whose songs have been recorded by artists including the 77s and Larry Norman. His musical and spoken word projects include Love in the Western World, Lost Horizon, Magnificent Obsession, More Than a Dream, The Butterfly Effect, Empty Orchestra, We Dreamed That We Were Strangers, and Crossing the Boundaries, in conjunction with painter Gaylen Stewart. In 2012, his songs became available on MP3 format, coincident with the release of a limited edition CD, Emotional Tourist: A Steve Scott Retrospective. He writes and speaks often on the arts in the UK and US, and is the author of Like a House on Fire: Renewal of the Arts in a Post-modern Culture and Crying for a Vision and Other Essays: The Collected Steve Scott Vol. One.

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Steve Scott - No Memory Of You.

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