welcome, readers, writers and revellers

This is the blog of Oxford University Poetry Society, where you can get up-to-date news about our upcoming events and poetry readings, dates of poetry workshops, read contributors' poetry, and try a hand at writing your own...

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Open Mic!

Thanks so much to everyone who read at our open mic night on Thursday. We had cake, wine, crisps and readings from this splendid bunch:

Ben Doeh
Charlotte Geater
Christopher Jones
Dorian Van Braâm
Elizabeth Wenger
Eloise Stonborough
Geoffrey Lim
Geraldine Clarkson
James Lowe
Madeline Wright
Mark Mayes
Minoo Dinshaw
Nannette O’Brien
Paul Kelly
Peter Lomax
Richard O’Brien
Robert Rapoport
Ross Smith
Sammy Jay
Sean Hughes
Sophie McGrath
Stephen Bochonek
Will Davies
William Harris &
Yuan Yang

Only two weeks of term left now - don't forget MATTHEW HOLLIS on Thursday of 7th* and then DALJIT NAGRA** (!) the next week on Dec 4th, including the OUPS CHRISTMAS RAFFLE. Expect great things.

Also remember we're trying to collect a poem each from the people who read on Thursday so we can put them up here. Email me with your poems! - laura.marsh@chch.ox.ac.uk

*Nov 27th, the Pontigny Room at Teddy Hall, 8pm
**Dec 4th, Lecture Rm 1, Christ Church, 8pm

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A Thought on Donald Rumsfeld

You remember that thing about known unknowns and unknown unknowns? No?

The Unknown (Donald Rumsfeld)

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

It sparked a whole genre of political found poetry.

"On Good and Evil" (Sarah Palin)

It is obvious to me
Who the good guys are in this one
And who the bad guys are.
The bad guys are the ones
Who say Israel is a stinking corpse,
And should be wiped off
The face of the earth.

That's not a good guy.

Okay, so here's my question: what about unknown knowns? Things we don't know we know, but nonetheless we know them. It's kind of like Proust says, "We possess all our memories, but not the faculty of recalling them... What, then, is a memory which we do not recall?"

Wednesday Workshops

Executive Summary of this Post:

1. Free Workshop every Wednesday 8pm in the Mitre on High Street.

2. Look for the person in the photo (Tom), or a table with a poetry book on it.

3. Bring five to ten copies of your poem to read, so we can all have one.

4. Come, get feedback on your own work, and steal ideas from others!

As well as weekly readings on Thursdays, Poetry Society holds a free workshop every Wednesday which is open to everyone, whether or not you're a member. They are held at the Mitre, which is on the north side of the High Street on the corner with Turl Street. They start at 8pm. At these workshops, everyone brings a poem they have written or are working on, and reads it, and we talk about it a little bit. You don't even have to bring a poem if you don't want, you can just come and listen t what your peers are writing, and then criticise (or praise) them!

We hold it in the pub, despite some downsides, because (1) it's easy to find and no organisation is required to book it, (2) we want the evening to be totally informal, relaxed and unintimidating, and (3) we like to drink beer and even have the occasional ice-cream sundae. This does cause a slight problem: when you come to the Mitre at 8pm on a Wednesday, you need to know where Poetry Society is! Sometimes lots of people come, sometimes hardly any, so it's no use looking for a big group louldy declaiming verse, especially if you arrive on time (which you should do!) when we're unlikely to have actually started reading yet.

In order to solve this problem, we are instituting some SIGNS and GUIDES. Firstly, look at the photograph at the top of this post. That is me, Tom Cutterham (Society Treasurer). Either I or Ben Doehy (photo to appear shortly - he has curly hair!) will pretty much be there every week, so look out for us! Secondly, in case my face isn't handsomely memorable enough, I will be bringing some kind of poetry-related book along every week from now on, so look out for a table with a book on it! Most of the Mitre's clientele are pub-golfers and tourists, so except for guidebooks there's unlikely to be much other reading material around to confuse you.

I really hope this will make it easier for people to come. And you should, because it's a fun way to get feedback on poems you're working on, and to hear what other people in Oxford are doing. I promise everyone will be very friendly and you absolutely mustn't be embarrassed to come and read! There's one other thing you should know: please try to bring multiple copies (between five and ten, say) of the poem you want to read, so that everyone can look at it; that really helps.


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A Reading from Geoffrey Hill

IX from The Triumph of Love

On chance occasions –
and others have observed this – you can see the wind,
as it moves, barely a separate thing,
the inner wall, the cell, of an hourglass, humming
vortices, bright particles in dissolution,
a roiling plug of sand picked up
as a small dancing funnel. It is how
the purest apprehension might appear
to take corporeal shape.

I love Hill’s sensitivity to the weight of words, how the mental (and real) tongue and ear lift and drop sounds, how the eyes imagine clusters and densities of letters, and attribute physicality to shifting speech particles. The aural-syntactical quality of this poem appeals to my ear, so I decided to record a vocal interpretation of it:
Click the title of this blog to hear it.