Poets, Poets, Everywhere!

soddenham-poetry-festIt is the Soddenham Poetry Festival this weekend – the first one since the exciting 1983 event! This festival aims to be bigger and better than previous events, with more family orientated activities, workshops and a compilation of poems submitted for publication!

A young-looking Alwyn Gaze reads ‘Blind Mans Poem’ in his fathers study in 1985

This year there will be public readings all around the village, a childrens workshop at the school, themed events at St.Polycarp’s and nature poems through the woods. If you are lucky you will hear some new poetry by our very own ‘Miss Direction’ – paper girl Kerri Tomlin as she reads lines through the letterbox as she makes her deliveries! Soddenhams resident poet, Unwin S. Schreiber has also agreed to host a short session in his caravette with budding poets, but insists that there will be no refreshments available. None at all. There will be poems and pints at The Witches Teat throughout the weekend, but please note that the Teat has declared itself a Haiku-free zone for the duration. Take a look at the guide below and make the most of all the events!


Some of you will recall the dreadful fights that broke out in The Witches Teat in 1983 after several members of the Soddenham Pigeon Fanciers & Literary Society refused to recognise Haiku as a legitimate poetic form on the grounds of it being a poor western adaptation of a traditional Japanese cultural expression.

The row first broke out when Gerald Mulgrew gave his opinion that the English treated it as a simple ‘syllable-counting exercise and nothing more’ which raised the hackles of other patrons in the lounge bar that evening, many of which had just returned from a Haiku workshop at the Vicarage led by the late Reverend Cyril Batten. Mr. Mulgrew was not alone in his opinion though, and there were a number of other patrons who were rather insistent that Haiku was much more the essence of a moment keenly perceived, in which Nature is linked to human nature, rather than a simple and vague seventeen syllable verse in three lines.

Roger Furcleby retaliates against Gerald Mulgrew following an imflammatory Haiku

The argument raged back and forth amongst the two groups, many of which divided long-standing friendships and even family ties, until ‘last orders’ was called at the bar. The usual flurry of activity ensued as orders were placed, drinks received and several bar tabs settled, until Roger Furcleby made a rather unsavoury comment about Gerald’s wife Miriam in Haiku form, for which he recieved a resounding blow, blacking his eye and spilling his drink. It was at this point that things got unpleasant.

Upon picking himself up, Mr. Mulgrew retaliated and the pair engaged in an old-fashioned scuffle that upturned stools and tables, further exacerbating the already tense situation. Fights broke out across the pub, in both the lounge and saloon bars, and it took many moments to separate the combatants and remove them from the premises. It is believed that further scuffles broke out in the car park, and there were several rather awkward poetry-based confrontations in the weeks that followed.

Poetry –  it’s a funny old game…



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