Head Lines feedback 3.9.2018September is when older people go away. Nine from our Saltmarsh loop let me know they couldn’t come. (It’s always helpful to know.) In the event, it didn’t matter too much. Our small group was lucky enough to include medical expertise, was active in discussion, and brought poems that extended the mental health theme.Peter is masterly at threading a serious subject with humorous undercurrents. His long poem about the medications prescribed for his twin brother with it’s haunting repetitions, had a resounding impact. There were old favourites too, many of them prizewinners, and it was a pleasure to have twin John with us in person as well as in words.Briony’s 5-page ‘Unlocking Value or how the goverment is screwing the mentally ill’ was a telling reminder of the Social Services’ pedantry and how years of phenomenal medical advances have failed to include mental health.‘This is a poem for those who are forgottenFor those you avoid in the supermarket aisleFor those who sit in street doorways and smoke.’George chose Ted Hughes’ ‘The Tender Place’ from Birthday Letters, suggesting that he wasn’t sure about his choice. The poem addresses Sylvia Plath who committed suicide in 1963. It’s about the ECT she’d been given after her first attempt, before they met. A time indeed, when the process was experimental. Hughes then suggests a link between her treatment and the kind of poet she became. A link between creativity and mental illness that is often made.In a lighter vein, Evelyn read us Robert McFarlane’s word-playful ‘Otter’. ‘This shape-shifter’s a sheer breath-taker a sure heart-stopper – but you’ll only ever spot a shadow-flutter, bubble-skein, and never (almost never) actual otter.’Pol’s ‘The Fret’ invoked a mystical moment when swimming in The Pool beside her rocking Moth, ‘The mist moved in, with speed’… A white spell’ that surrounded her and disappeared within minutes.The first line of Briony’s second poem (‘Sleeping Warrior’) started with a row of story-telling trochees: ‘In the heart of Soysambu he lies’. The poem was rich with the sound of Kenyan place names that her philanthropic warrior inhabited, and would have made a worthy contribution to our original theme of myth.