Remembrance at Bath Poetry Café

Judith Young writes:Wednesday November 18th: The Duncan Room was filled for Bath Poetry Café’s themed evening of poetry on the subject of Remembrance. Twenty poets, from as far afield as Taunton, Glastonbury,  Colerne, Stroud, Devizes, and Bristol, each read one of  their poems.  Between groups of poems there were excerpts from Gorecki’s  Symphony No 3, Op. 36 (Symphony of sorrowful songs).
Remembrance, expressed in these different voices, showed widely different subjects, from feelings about war and disasters to very individual experiences and memories.  There were poems containing stories passed down through families, such as the very young WW1 soldier in France who was sure his life was saved when a shell missed him as he searched for his glasses, which had fallen off into the mud.  One poem was inspired by a coat hanger bearing the service number of a lost brother.  A poet remembered being a school-girl picking apples in Kent, watching the Battle of Britain being fought in the sky above.  In a house in France called Remember an old woman chops vegetables with a  rat a tat tat sound, though no one else now remembers why the house carries that name.
Another poem honours a friend who went to the help of the injured on 9/11, and was himself killed.  There are memories of a father returned from a prison camp in the Far East, suffering from nightmares, reluctant (like others returning home in these poems) to speak of his experiences.  Poems recalled Belsen, the floating bodies of nurses killed when the troop ship that was carrying them was torpedoed, those who died in the flu epidemic after returning from WW1, those who are returning in coffins from the Middle East today, those who survived but whose lives were changed by loss,  the displaced, the many we should not forget..
Readers included a number who have not read in the Café before.  All the poems, though so various, were impressive and moving. The evening began with a reading of Wilfred Owen’s poem Futility, and ended with A Lament, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson, followed by a minute’s silence. Remembrance Café was arranged by Frances Anne King, Caroline Heaton and Tracey Wall.

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