1. Suffolk Poetry Society
A video contribution featuring members of Suffolk Poetry Society.
With, Caroline Gay Way / Kaaren Whitney / Beth Soule / Sue Wallace Shaddad / Ian Hartley /
Fran Reader / Roger West / Ivor Murrell / Kate Rex / Sue Foster / Tim Lenton
2. Peter Sandberg
A Soundtrack to The Ipswich Charter Hangings
These poems were written by Peter around the time of the Charter Hangings first being on public display.
1. THE VIKINGS
They saw no beauty in the longships’ shape
and none in glittering swords and burnished shields
as fear crept up the river with the evening mist
and spread its choking miasma through the town.
Doors were triple bolted,
water set to douse the thatch
while Viking longships
swooped on the incoming tide
to disgorge their crews
to rapine, fire and slaughter.
Though Viking folk would clothe their men in glory,
the homes of Gypeswic were filled with doom.
Where is the bearer of the torch of freedom,
to defend the Saxon cause and conquer fear,
a St. Michael who will slay their dragon of despair?
2. THE ROYAL CHARTER
In the second regnal year of John
King of England, Lord of Ireland
by the grace of God
it pleased His Majesty to grant
to Gypeswic Town
his Royal Charter.
The merchants here were filled with pride.
Their catboats, broad-beamed, deep-waisted,
plied the River Orwell.
These men created wealth by trade
with bailiffs, portmen, common councillors
to govern their affairs.
The might of royal decree,
the gravitas of office,
were cause for pride,
but in their hearts they knew prosperity
came from the gently flowing river,
their pathway to the world.
3. THE MEDIEVAL TOWN
The wealth of wool
woven in the villages
is brought to Ipswich quay.
The creaking crane
weighs and loads the bales of cloth
into the waiting boats.
A warship swishes waves against the bank
while netted fish draw mewling seagulls
to their piquant odour.
Oak pegs are struck by mallets
chisels chink on stone;
fingers caress intricacies of carving.
For merchants want their warehouses
big and broad, their halls and courts
designed with flair and colour;
churches also to honour the saints
with glorious craftmanship, as gold
transmutes to beauty and amazement.
4. THE TUDOR PERIOD
As a place of prayer and pilgrimage
the shrine of Our Lady of Ipswich
had almost rivalled Walsingham.
Reformers zeal and royal decree
bred doom for both.
While religion burned with division
the merchants combined in their Guild.
Old religious domains were re-formed
into prosperous dwellings of splendour
dominant now in a more secular town.
From the wharves of the River Orwell
ships set sail on the rippling path
painted in gold by the rising sun –
‘Merchant Adventurers’ (a hint of romance?),
merchants first, but adventurers too.
Reaching across the cold North Sea
to the misty flatlands beyond,
they voyaged to the countries of Norsemen and Danes,
and their vessels dropped anchor at last
in the Hanseatic ports of the Baltic.
Some already had ventured to Iceland,
their trade indulging the taste
for the flaky flesh of the cod,
and Cavendish and Eldred embarked in Desire
indulging their urge to sail round the world.
5. THE STUARTS
A swelling tide of thought
washes from the Continent
on to England’s eastern shore.
As salty waves wind-driven
push up the Orwell estuary,
so enter those who would promote
the virtues of simplicity in worship
and biblical theology.
The ebb tide bears away – paradoxically –
along with the garbage of the town
Puritan emigrants, as pilgrims to New England.
The Royal Charter granted by King John
will not wrap Ipswich in a Royalist flag
but rather fosters freedom of the mind
favouring the Roundheads until
their moral miserliness leads to disillusionment.
after the fighting –
relief at Restoration,
dance and drama,
music and painting
buff up the public mood to sparkle
like sunshine on the river.
6. THE GEORGIANS
From Tudor enterprise and Restoration gaiety
we turn to local matters;
the coffee house aroma,
the chiming of Moore’s clocks,
the smell from Cobbold’s brewery,
the feel beneath the fingertips
of Grinling Gibbons’ carving,
the spectacle of David Garrick
on stage in Tacket Street,
and Thomas Gainsborough’s artistry.
These were delights for gentlefolk,
along with the excitement and discomfort
of the stage coach rattling
on the rough-paved roads
to Colchester or Norwich;
The dockyard offered work
as Britain’s navy grew,
while pressgangs claimed the ne’er-do-wells.
to build an empire – or be killed
in battle, accident or fever.
Some still kept pigs, or tilled the land
to serve the windmill and the brewery,
providing meat and bread and beer
as Ipswich life and Orwell’s flow
meandered through the century.
7. THE VICTORIAN PERIOD
In classical splendour and symmetricality
the Custom House adorns the quay,
built to impress! But primarily to address
the regulation of commerce through the port.
The railway brings new sounds and tangy odours
of vented steam, of soot, and heated oil
as it conveys the products of new industries
from factory to harbourside.
Horses whinney or stand patiently between the shafts
as the loads they’ve hauled are hoisted on to barges,
while other vessels lie ready, coal-laden,
to discharge their cargoes to the waiting waggons.
At the new Town Hall on Cornhill’s central square
councillors and corporations conduct their business.
Lawyers and their clients swarm around the County Courts
and agricultural factors frequent the Corn Exchange.
All this activity exacts its penalty.
Down by the river’s rat-infested wharves
nostrils are assailed from its fetid waters
in warm and misty breathless evening air.
8. THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
This is the Ipswich that we know today
with roundabouts and shining walls of glass
and people standing waiting for their bus
where once the cattle stood amongst the hay.
Where portmen once grazed sheep, on Saturday
crowds flock to watch The Blues; while others pass
their time in shops, go home to mow the grass
or take the children to the park to play.
The thread of life continues through the years.
Each century is stitched upon another.
In changing times why not use art to view
the links of past to present? What then appears
is that Orwell and Ipswich history hang together
the river itself a bridge from old to new.
Ipswich Charter Hangings Poems copyright Peter Sandberg.
Images copyright Isabel Clover.
3. Margaret Nicholls
4. Liz Smith
5. Liz Smith
6. Liz Smith
The Tale of Bessie Muttock
7. Liz Smith
7. IAA Featured Artists
During lockdown Ipswich Arts Association began running a series “Featured Poems” – showing a different work every two – three weeks.
All the poems are from members of the Suffolk Poetry Society
The series has continued and shown here are the poems that have been included in the series since the 2020 Arts in Celebration.
The series, including all the poems since the series started may be viewed via a link from the IAA homepage, or click here.
It was felt that these artists should also be part of Arts in Celebration.
I have been writing poetry since 2009 through locally run courses, read regularly with Sudbury Poets. and have had 3 commendations in Crabbe Poetry Competitions, with a number of poems published in connection with other projects. In January 2020 I published To Bind us to the Earth, details from firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t download the wind,
can only stream it’s surge
within the narrow bandwidth
between my ear and brain,
or feel it sweep my skin
like a drummer’s brush caressing hide,
or sense it thrumming to a rhythm
that tempers to my heartbeat.
No stave can tame the wind
in tadpole blots on paper
like swallows perched on wires;
the seed of music germinates
in air. So who will play a part
whose shape is wind and heart is fire
as swallows flicking through the gale
or swifts supported on the air?
Peter Sandberg. November 2017
A working life, with experience as a maintenance engineer, a sugar industry trouble shooter, a maltster and finally as Director General of the Maltsters Association of Great Britain. As Suffolk’s last traditional floor maltster he gave an IAA Town Lecture on the subject in March 2019.
Since retiring Ivor Murrell has found more time for his writing, has achieved a BA Hons Humanities degree with the Open University and has been Chairman of The Arts Society East Suffolk.
Ivor Murrell website: www.versifier.co.uk
‘Last Orders’ won a ‘Commended’ award in the 2016 George Crabbe Poetry Competition. The competition judge, Moniza Alvi, wrote of ‘Last Orders’ “Tragic and hard hitting, I found this poignant poem compelling.” ” This is a poem with a real sense of urgency”.
Every night at seven, he shed the family skin
took off the shirt he had worn one day
washed at the kitchen sink in his vest,
the clean shirt ironed and waiting.
Not once or twice a week, but every night
he took his pristine presence to the pub
to buy and sell, or swell to sycophants,
his fat wallet earning him a throne.
He never knew his family’s evening life
wife and children watched his every exit,
the woman waited his return, alone.
He was never the worse for drink, nor better.
Sometimes he cooked a lonely midnight meal,
a selfish extension to solitary pleasures,
a skill he rarely used when the sun was up,
always curt on the creed of ‘wife’s duties’.
I map my childhood by the pubs he used:
first the Shepherd and Dog in Sicklesmere Road
where he left me one night in the car for hours.
The Rutland Arms, The Rushbrooke Arms,
The Coach and Horses, where he charged me
the cost of his petrol to drive my friend home.
‘The Moody’ at Hawstead, where I cycled
and was told never to seek him there again.
That was his last order, I took him at his word.
Memories are names of public houses.
André Mangeot’s published collections are Natural Causes (2003), Mixer (2005) and Blood Rain (2020) along with two books of short stories, A Little Javanese (2008) and True North (2010). For over ten years he was a member of the poetry ensemble The Joy of Six which performed at many festivals across the UK.
300 feet above the castle keep
than the 40 miles of Irish Sea
becalmed with glitter
held between these wide-spread arms
today we’ve climbed and clung
with ragged sheep
on 1-in-3’s of straggling walls
and gorsy paths to reach
Garth Bach –
this dizzy ledge halfway to heaven
in an ocean light that sweeps
from Bardsey Sound to Barmouth
a sheen so bright
it’s hard to fathom such a view
or see how castle, beach and bay
don’t simply drop away like milk-blue
spindrift into space.
We’ve come from way down there –
rock-pools to remind us
of all those small and madder leaps
we fear must pass like this day’s brilliance –
wind and light that only now I see
suffused in you, so burnt into your skin
you’ll carry always from this hill
the hours when
just by stretching out our arms
we seemed to hold the world,
to touch the sun.
Margaret Seymour grew up in the North East but has spent most of her adult life on or near the Norfolk coast. She has written poetry since childhood though her career path has been in art and art history. Since joining various writing groups she enjoys the fellowship and stimulus this brings.
Salvador Dali gets around: one moment
he’s attached to a wall can-opener
next he’s back on the washing-machine.
In the drawer he lies on the Sigmund Freud
mouse mat. Its syncretic charisma
challenges his own: both finger-puppet
and fridge magnet, he’s an archetype
of dissociative identity disorder. He’s drawn
to Frieda Kahlo. You find them back-
to-back, their black velour craniums
conjoined. It takes two hands to separate them.
She looks good in red, flowers in her hair.
He’s chic in high white collar, striped tie.
Her eyebrows respond to his signature
moustache. They will not kiss.
Nina writes: I have written poems all my life and at 21, after my father’s death, I found poems he had written to my mother during the war, so maybe I get it from him. Runaway describes a true event when I was 15-16 years old and my home life was rather dysfunctional.
‘Runaway’ was commended in the 2016 Crabbe poetry competition.
Once, I ran away from home.
Ordinarily, I would have
taken my little brother.
His small hand in mine
Saxon curls beside me.
We would walk hand in hand
down a road into the sunset,
catch a train to happiness
where he could play
and not be called clumsy or noisy.
This time I would have to leave him.
I kissed his small face, whispered sorry,
left him sleeping.
Listening, I heard their voices
stoking fires, before slipping
out the window into August night.
Here, I became the shadow that
I knew I was. A grey thing
The night smelled of cut wheat,
stubble rasped in a rhythm
Past the mere,
its clear face towards the sky
where a non Catholic
could have slept
easily under its covers.
About the second mile,
each step hammering the knowledge
home that I wouldn’t really go.
A small hayfield, a hay cart bed
with starlight throw,
I waited until I had the emptiness
to return unseen.
Derek Adams is a professional photographer, living in Suffolk. He has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. His most recent collection is EXPOSURE – Snapshots from the life of Lee Miller, (Dempsey & Windle 2019)
Derek Adams’ poem ‘Flowering’ was commended in the 2018 Crabbe poetry competition.
Angela Locke www.angelalocke.co.uk grew up in Ipswich, as a child in Cardinal Wolsey’s house in St. Nicholas Street. At 15, she was ‘adopted’ by the Suffolk Poetry Society who encouraged her poetry. Angela lives in Cumbria, where she was Writer-in-Residence on Hadrian’s Wall. She has had five poetry collections published.
Angela Locke was commended in the 2018 Crabbe poetry competition for her poem ‘Making Up’
So the sweet–faced cows come down,
and it is almost done.
The man, bent after the day’s work,
pulls hay from bales, its scent holding him
in last summer’s place.
Bare bulbs spill light into the yard;
the stink of shit, the lowing and clattering of beasts.
Cows lean with patient eyes, sucking water.
It is their pleasure, each movement a meditation;
wise or unwise, they are considering the day.
Hay falls into racks, a rattle of nuts into troughs,
their own soft breath smelling of grass.
Now, all’s done, truly done, made up,
he can leave behind his tools of toil, rough boots
clarted with mud, sacks of feed, out of reach of rats
in the concrete store, tired old forks.
It’s not yet Spring, but in the window,
lit for supper, a bunch of tulips,
red against the lamp
Richard Whiting has been writing poetry for most of his life, but has been pursuing the craft seriously for the past decade. He is a twice commended poet in the George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition and has published a pamphlet of poetry entitled Natural Histories.
That Perfect Feeling*
The news bulletin disappears,
its breath smelling of apocalypse.
Even the sky seems sad,
as if the seasons themselves
And then a brimstone flitters
across a verge. Sun pulls
apart the clouds
as the first real warmth of Spring
settles on my face.
Blue sky reveals two buzzards
drawing circles, one around the other,
cracking mews across the valley.
The radio sends out a length of guitar,
to join them
seeming to follow their flight,
picking out their progress along the fret,
and they to mirror his mood,
The song is over. Two distant buzzards
melt into cloud, the radio falls silent.
I was dreaming, attending the only festival
I shall catch this year, up there, suspended
briefly by a chord.
*from Like A Hurricane by Neil Young
Poet, performer, songwriter – a punk long before and long after it was fashionable. He writes in French and in English, pursuing the thought in whichever language it presents itself. He translates poetry from/via French to English and performs regularly at festivals in France, the UK and US.
Titian puts down his paintbrush and picks up his guitar
mussel shell tuna fin cuttlefish ink
pyrite powder azurite zinc
cerulean celadon cadet and celeste
crows wing gull feather robin egg ravens nest
midnight diamond byzantine slate
imperial prussian palatinate
the heart of the spark at the heart of the flame
ferrocyanide blood in the vein
kingfisher starfish silver lake and capri
peacock periwinkle anemone
indigo aqua ultramarine
french fig and damson and aubergine
cornflour columbine lapis lazuli
indian ocean mediterranean sea
ice cap polar night magnetic ash
rock salt and cobalt thunderbolt flash
berber and breton ceylon and chartreuse
jesuit sacristan la vierge douleureuse
turquoise and teal tiffany true
woke up this morning, baby, I had all of those blues
yeah, woke up this morning, I had all of those blues
all of those blues
Nicola Warwick was born in Kent but has lived in Suffolk for most of her life. She has published two collections of poetry and her work covers a range of subjects including nature, history and folklore. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University.
Her poem Spring Tide was commended in the Crabbe poetry competition 2019.
This can’t be the place.
Water is a glossy strip in the distance,
the line between sky and sea.
A tide that has ebbed too far,
doesn’t know when to stop,
who might never come back
like the barely-there footprints of children
scuffing the sand,
this participant in salty tantrums,
snatcher of cliffs, masher of houses to driftwood.
I’m on edge; want to call it in,
reel it back, summon the moon:
come in, come home
all is forgiven.
All is forgiven.
come in, come home.
Summon the moon, reel it back:
I’m on edge; want to call it in;
snatcher of cliffs, masher of houses to driftwood,
this participant in salty tantrums,
scuffing the sand
like the barely-there footprints of children
who might never come back.
doesn’t know when to stop;
a tide that has ebbed too far,
the line between sky and sea.
Water is a glossy strip in the distance.
This can’t be the place.
John retired to Suffolk and has had a few poems published. These days he enjoys the company of friends in ‘Poetry Aloud’ in Bury St Edmunds. Much of his inspiration comes from the small village of Wyverstone that he lives in. ‘Eating English’ was inspired by a neighbour.
The poem was commended in the 2019 Crabbe Poetry competition.
Jeremy takes a Continental breakfast,
uneasy at the state of things.
He’s queasy reading the news.
Despairs at distress in the middle spread.
His croissant crumbles, sticks in his throat
‘It’s the labels,’ he says. ‘The labels. The labels.
It ruins our digestion.
We should all be eating English.’
‘Oh Jerry my sweet, Oh Jerry my love
Remember the dust in Avignon,
The sitting outside, the wine, the sun
And the rough sheets in the afternoon.’
He sips at his coffee.
Looks across the crumpled cloth
‘It’s not the same at all,’ he says.
No, she thinks. Not the same at all.
Born in Essex, Fran Reader has lived in Suffolk since 1990. After retiring from a career in gynaecology she reinvented herself through her love of poetry by gaining an MA in Poetry with the Open University (2019). Since Autumn 2017 Fran has been Editor of Suffolk Poetry Society’s Twelve Rivers magazine. The following poem was commended in the Crabbe Poetry Competition 2020.
Working fresh weft over old warp
I saved a tapestry from moth destruction the way one saves a soul
Louise Bourgeois, diary entry, November 2 1995
Warp – strange name.
I’ll make it my word-of-the-day
to please Maman.
She’ll give me a linen backdrop of taut threads
exposed by greedy moths
with no thought for beauty –
a free-for-all in dust-making decay –
a lost face, a missing fleur-de-lis.
For her I’ll restore the missing weft with woollen threads –
tannin fixed, to madder-red, weld-yellow and woad-blue.
Over-and-over I’ll let the soft threads
stroke my fingers – colour retell the story.
When I’ve finished I’ll sing – if sound will come –
a song for the warp I’ve buried.
Copyright. Fran Reader
I have been writing and performing poetry since the turn of the century, starting with the poetry/visual arts collective Inprint. I won the Fish International Poetry Prize in 2007. I live in Norwich but am linked mainly to the Seagull Theatre group in Lowestoft and the Halesworth Swan poets.
‘Young Birds’ by Tim Lenton which was highly commended in the Crabbe Poetry Competition 2020.
Light flashes in the hedge
as young birds
free from the fields
taste the edges of their new world
then come to feed from our fingers:
sunlight pierces their wings
and the puzzle of leaves and branches
as we watch,
the holy dove
and the flames of light
that settled on him, filled his house
full of love and secrets,
consuming the dry, tender land.
Copyright © Tim Lenton
Jane Henderson has lived in a Suffolk village for 22 years, where she is a gardener and sculptor. Often her ideas hatch whilst gardening and some develop into poems. Her work has been published in magazines and anthologies. ‘Frank’s World’ was placed second in the 2020 Crabbe Poetry Prize.
Frank was a knitted boy: plain and purl,
with a spare hand that attached
a harmonica to the slot of his mouth
which he then assumed like a silver grin,
harping through it a language of his own.
His face was pure purl, the curve of ear,
the tilt of brow, the prow of lips kiss-pursed.
Frank’s mother had cast him off the row
like unwanted stitches, and Frank had felt
himself so cast, falling with weight yet silently
with the gravity of a tightly spun ball of,
for example, Aran, there being a slight
bounce and a degree of unravelling.
Frank then grew independently, breeding
his own ideas like stick insects and wheeling
them around on the velvet nap of caterpillars.
Frank was sweater and shorts, scratchy
grey above stocking-stitch knees, long
frayed from forays into the hedge where
the thrush nested. Frank’s spare hand
had plumbed the thrush’s nest, fingered its
rough weft, felt the yarn in its rotundity.
Otherwise he stood with his toes curled
around stones in the soft silt of the river bed,
the cloudy water knee high and dough warm,
tightening his toe grip on the stones,
and all the time sliding the mouth harp.
He wanted to banish the frightful images
of cauliflower that kept creeping into his head,
the vegetable having been served to him
once for school dinner. He had fled down
the lane away from school, back to his bed
at Granddaddy’s house. In his dreams
the heavily textured white curd pulsed
like a huge brain, then broke in half,
exuding a glaucous substance from its parts.
All Frank wanted to taste was the wood,
the metal of the harmonica, he blowing
and sucking at the honeycomb grid of it,
meting out his vernacular of stickleback,
blackbird’s egg and Granddaddy’s pipesmoke.
Granddaddy was braces and clay-smeared spade,
drawing long-necked tear-inducing leeks
from the sod of his allotment.
Somehow Frank had a notion that blind, black
men played blues on harmonicas, so Frank
shut his eyes when he struck up his mouth harp
and focussed on the hue of the blackbird’s egg.
Copyright © Jane Henderson 2020
Chair of Swan Poets Halesworth. Fascinated by Humanity, Literature, Landscape and History, Mike sees Poetry (Language, Time, Imagery and Metaphor) as a way of sharing a sense of Heritage and Community. Publications: Greenstreet Fragments 2003, Pocahontas in Ludgate 2007, Orinsay Poems 2012, Late Poems 2017 Nine Days 2019.
Mike won third prize in the Crabbe poetry competition 2020 with this poem;
Lament for a Lewis Crofter-Man
(i.m. Kenny Kennedy of Orasaigh 1943-2016)
Further… as far as… back of the north wind
we hanker after recollection’s warp,
where the last crags tumble, chill dark
and terrible to the underworld.
Prince, whale-man and weaver, lone voyager,
we came to re-discover you.
Malin to Fair Isle: twelve windless days,
all mute, no shout carries, no echo tells;
the sharp steel barb of that, salt rust and sore
Unrippling, at Orasaigh waves gleam
green and silver, mirror those mornings
we’d put out on the ebb tide, trusting
the flood to bring us home, lines coiled, fish box full.
You taught us the sea; hidden skerries
lee shore, whistling squalls, a cable parted,
a readiness for danger.
Lifelog of a crofter-man: Handsome youth
quits the Long Isle, earns his spurs
where the whale-fish blow, about the Weddell Sea;
then he’s a tanker-hand
Thames Humber Tyne and Forth.
In the high woods of Moray, he finds his own
pearl beyond price, brings her home,
builds a small Ithaca, clear spring, rough land
dry boat, iron loom; they work, weave tweed,
raise a constellation of four lambent stars.
Restless, down all the seasons and the years,
our quiet Odysseus, is busy at the brim
of the sea, a godly man, each repeated
labour a ritual in itself, a prayer almost;
fish of the tide, cloth of the loom
peat of the moor, stag from the hill.
Sage thoughts, uttered in the old tongue,
soft and slow; he would provide.
Boatman, friend, hero and hunter, sleep sound
in your dark school among the stones
of Gravir, place of kings.
Copyright © Mike Bannister 2020
A chance to hear some of the entries from last years event.
8. Richard Spencer
9. Karen Dennison
10. Steve Roche
A Short History of Britain Since Nineteen Sixty
11. Laura Locke
An Image Comes
12. Janet Dann – An Englishman Needs Time
My professional background is in theatre and education, with a particular interest in voice work. I am a member of Trianon Music Group (choir) and Dorian Singers (Felixstowe). To these and many other local groups I contribute readings and narration in their concert programmes. I run poetry courses (currently suspended!) for Ipswich Institute and give regular solo recitals of reading programmes for societies and charities.
13. Sue Wallace-Shaddad
Suffolk Poetry Society member Sue reads three poems from her collection, A City Waking Up.