Clare Best feedback 4.6.2018Clare read from several collections. We dwelt briefly on the slaughter of animals for consumption with the deliciously titled ‘How to be Considerate to Sheep’ (from Treasure Ground). We explored hidden bodies of water from the beautifully-illustrated Springlines - a compilation shared with other established poets.We considered buying false nipples from an unerringly honest sequence about breast cancer and its complications, ‘No adhesives necessary’ from Excisions. But what made most impact for me was her prizewinning piece from the Tongues & Grooves Prose Poem Competition (‘When he says Yes when she says No’). The emphasis of its short unpunctuated sentences continually interrupted by either the first-4 or the last 4-words of the title.An exuberant male is introduced with a string of active verbs, ‘blows’, ‘shines’, ‘spins’, ‘somersault’, ‘falls’, ‘forgets’ etc. No adjectives. In contrast, the female’s resistance to physicality is governed by ‘tongue and lips’. She interiorises. She is unscattered and without ‘doubt’. In the end, the poem is a celebration of both. Almost a love poem. ’Tail lights’ was another poem about relationship. Following a partner’s car’s in the first foggy light of a winter day, the protagonist loses sight of its stark red rear lights. Relieved from the act of pursuing, she (presumably) becomes aware of the ‘rime-frosted kerb’ of her surroundings. ‘And I tell myself to tell you later, / I’ve never known grey so beautiful.’ How human this is. How invested with love.*Goethe’s ‘On Originality’ translated by Michael Hamburger, was Evelyn’, indeed, original, choice. A tribute to the inevitability of our inherited genes. Of two poems from the New Yorker, one was by Henri Cole, a Professor of poetry who regrets a ‘drift away from emotion’. ‘Poems, he says, should contain ‘fear, wonder, grief, desperation and triumph!’ ‘Black Mushrooms’ is a sonnet dedicated to Seamus Heaney – an invocation for the ‘palatial starlight’ of fungi. He recommends eating fried fungus (wild and unnatural) for ‘hurts’ and ‘an atmosphere of restraint’. There’s a tentative link here in the witchcraft of Clarence Major’s (man, painter, novelist and experimental poet) ‘Hair’. ‘In the old days / Hair was magical.’ The poem focuses in plain sharp words, on people’s vulnerability and the unreliability of old wives’ tales. Bob Ward word-punned in ‘Other’. Maureen’s ‘Sonnet for the NHS’, offered an appreciation to this currently maligned body. Anne’s ‘21% of UK Population’ brought notice of ‘others’ about whom the middle classes may well feel guilty. Briony spun into cowboy land with her grandfather (‘TheVirginian’). For Gill, ‘otherness’ was a place of loss and dissatisfaction more than of difference. Pippa presented a ten line song to ‘one happy hour’ (To R.W’) and Peter enlarged on the pleasure of a good cry in inventive images. Pol’s rhymed couplets were inspired by her grandchildren’s garden hunt for creepy-crawlies. My poem (Fool) was prompted by the combination of surreal playfulness and existential angst behind one of Germain Richier’s five Chess pieces in the Tate Modern.*Four of our usual Saltmarsh men were missing on this occasion. We missed each one of them and the poems they bring.