Ramona Herdman, feedback 5 .2. 2018James Reeves called a poem useless unless it contains ‘a bit of the poet’s life-blood’. Life blood was strongly stamped on Ramona’s contemporary poems. She has a lovely voice and gave us a lively start to the year.Readings from Bottle focussed on her father’s alcoholism; the damage it inflicted on the family. Those who bought the book will discover her varied forms and the way each word makes a whole that is essentially all-of-a-piece. Her second selection was full of sex and gusto, witty, skilful and engaging. ‘I want the lickety-splitagain, fireworks glamorous in mist.Come closer, boy, there may be honey in the pot.’ (Pot and Stone)*From the floor, we heard several variations on our theme, ‘the drink is not the problem’. Helen A’s paean of praise for her Claud Butler bicycle counted among its blessings, 27 bottles of ‘cheap medium dry white wine’ (‘Blessings’). Pippa’s ‘Three Addictions’ included Jameson’s.Sally L’s ‘The Divine Dance’ carried strains of the Sacrament. From John, we enjoyed bumptious rhymed quatrains (‘At the High School Bop’). But ‘This time drink was not to blame’.Maureen’s pitted the temptation of drinking against religiously-inspired abstinence. Peter gave ‘The problem’ a beguiling presence, ‘it seeped under the door,/drenching our feet’.Burns was precious to my paternal grandmother who was from Glasgow, and copied pages of his poems into an exercise book. I’ve found his Scottishness prevents me getting close to this poet who wrote out of the life he lived as a man, farmer and scholar. It was fun to dip into Tam O’Shanter, after George’s introduction. I note too that his letters are entertaining, even when he was ‘at work’ on a flagon of rum when he wrote them.Bishop Desmond Tutu suffered from watching, helpless, while his father verbally and physically abused his mother. Evelyn’s poem caught the gist of this.Neither my poem (Planning Application : 21015/1331/D), nor Orlando Edmond’s (the last radio was playing and i heard you somewhere deep within it’) concerned alcohol. Mine was a disgruntled reaction to its title. I find Orlando’s poem difficult despite its grabbing title. Maybe a communication between the poetic male voice and a female voice, via his computer. Polly’s ship-in-a-bottle wasn’t a poem though it might easily have been.