HomeGeorge Szirtes feedback 1.10.2018Four comments Thank you Sally and Michael for such a 'nourishing' evening..We did enjoy last night.- very good evening - . What fun we had last night! Delightful evening and poet *‘They were going to the city but the train / was late (Delayed). Two poems made a perfect introduction to George’s reading, this first one, a rhymed sonnet, argued and concise, dipped us straight into a children’s world.It’s a world that isn’t governed by rules. With an appropriate collection of nouns and pronouns, ‘Dream Song’ brought us to the mystery of memory and hindsight. ‘That face was mine – how could it not be me?I gazed at it and said, Yes, that is you.’Poems from George’s new collection, The Children, kept us in this kingdom, following a couple of nameless protagonists through a series of adventures, often dreamlike or fairy-story. Episodes full of the unexpected. ‘The children felt older, their bones bigger.’ Here were the good and the bad in close proximity. Here was life before we learned to be governed by time, possessions and aspirations. Prose poems with a simple vocabulary, they were not for children, the poet felt, so much as about them.Later on, we heard a clutch of poems about George’s coming from Hungary as a refugee with parents and a brother when he was eight. ‘Emerging from the planeinto the winter evening in an ageof winters, of strong winds and a sharp rainthat sweeps along the tarmac.’ ‘We’re citizens of nowhere? Yes, maybe,but of the world? We’re not even quite here.’from ‘Fresh out of the sky’Those he read were seven stanzas of terza rima, a time-honoured rhyming that can be devilishly difficult to write. While the ‘surface’ meaing isn’t difficult, the poems resonate with undercurrents. In ’Waking to the sea’, his youthful self says,‘It’s [the sea] too far out, too great an undertakingeven to imagine it plumbed deepinto your chest, its huge heart achingfor what it can’t yet have, not while you sleep.’ The evening drew to a close with a series of amusing parodies sprung from an entry on Facebook. Ingenious spoofs of well-known poets from a pamphlet published this year by Candlestick Press – Thirty Poets Go to the Gym.*From the floor, we stayed in the child’s world with Ian Serrailler’s ‘Anne and the Field-mouse’. It’s a poem in which the mouse escapes to its alvation by ‘melting into the nettles’.‘A Momentof Change’ was another of Evelyn’s affecting poems from a prisoner at Highdown. A communication with the next generation about his strivings. Manley Hopkin’s ‘Spring and Fall’ celebrates the way a child learns about death. Hardy’s seemingly simple ‘Wagtail and Baby’ can be read as man’s disturbance of nature, or as our hankering for youth, altered in Hardy’s case, by the Industrial Revolution. Today of course, at an even faster rate, by technology.Bob Ward’s ‘New Boy In Class’ told a poignant story of a remembered contemporary, possibly a refugee.‘We’d been tipped off not to lean too hard on him, a boy smaller than most, paler than a chicken bone..’Anne’s gorgeous possibly-smiling lion evoked a child’s mind without a hint of adult recall. Michael C’s ‘Against hero-worship in Childhood’ moved its protagonist from the top form of a school to adulthood, carrying the memory of an unconventional teacher in 8-line stanzas.Pippa brought us several short colourful rhymed poems about revisiting her childhood home (No 8 The Crescent). Alice, (A grandmother’s rhapsody) Gill (Children) and Maureen (Firstborn) all dwelt on bonds formed between one generation and the next. ‘and straightway / She loved her’, (from Aice).David’s three dense 5-line stanzas danced back and forward through nine decades and from Kenya to Overy Staithe, each one a world in itself. ‘2018. First time ever, you show me the photograph.Tell me more than ‘he died in an accident’.Peter’s ‘Mother’ saw a long life behind his direct but kindly portrait of a very elderly soul.