With the shop’s back room packed and excellent readings from Helen Mort, Chris Jones and Frances Leviston, last week’s poetry event at the Oxfam bookshop on West Street, Sheffield was a modest success. It was a pleasant feeling to be promoting Sheffield poets while also making money for such a worthwhile cause – through a mixture of kind donations on the door and book sales, including Helen Mort’s new tall-lighthouse pamphlet, A Pint for the Ghost.
Her performance included a number of poems from this new collection - eerie and provocative pieces on the ghosts and pubs of Sheffield and Derbyshire, past and present - and a handful from her first, the shape of every box, including an atmospheric poem about Division Street, located only a stone’s throw from the venue. Unsurprisingly, copies of her new pamphlet were quickly snapped up after the reading.
Chris Jones also performed a wide selection of his published poetry to date, from affecting vignettes about his young son from his pamphlet Miniatures, to powerful poems on his time spent as writer-in-residence at a prison, as well as pieces on the themes of family, friends and home, from his first collection The Safe House.
The evening finished with a reading by Frances Leviston, who read a selection of thought-provoking and vivid poems mainly from her first collection, Public Dream, including the meditative ‘I Resolve to Live Chastely’ and ‘Scandinavia’, an unusual love poem entitled ‘Gliss’, and ‘The Fortune Teller’, an update to, and reworking of, Richard Wilbur’s ‘The Mind Reader’. We were also treated to a few new poems, including a short, suggestive lyric, ‘Two Owls’.
I also gave a shortish reading on the night, and since it seems to have become a bit of a feature on UK poetry blogs, here’s my ‘set list’:
5. The River Don
Given the success of the night, I hope to help arrange something similar again with Oxfam – though perhaps in a bigger venue than the shop, as that back room can get quite stuffy at times. If I do, it’ll be posted up here closer to the time of course. For now, thanks again to everyone who read, and also to all who attended – a fun night.