I know so many people these days who write poetry, but does that mean they are all poets? This is a question I can’t really answer, because I have written poetry from time to time in my life, but never seen fit to call myself a poet. Perhaps my dilitante way of doing it – now and again alongside other kinds of writing, is why I am not a poet. All the people in a new book out this month are poets. Each one of them spends time and energy developing style, looking for content that interests them, and taking the trouble to hone what they write to its potential perfection. They meet together for a regular session of sharing; sometimes taking advice, and sometimes ignoring it and going their own sweet way. The following review of their chosen work in a book named after their meetings, was written as usual for the Tivyside, but here goes.
Penfro Poets, is a new collection of work, the title of which comes from a group of local writers who meet on a regular basis at Rhosygilwen to learn, to discuss, and to compose poetry. The group originally grew out of the Penfro Book Festival, and is made up of a variety of people, of mixed ages and backgrounds, all of whom are enthusiasts in the world of poetry, and though some of them are more experienced than others there is no lack of talent and skill on display here. Topics and subject matter are wide-ranging, and this must surely be one of the joys of opening a collection like this, to discover so many different voices speaking in so many contrasting ways about life itself, its tragedies, its mysteries, and its beauty, all of these themes taking the reader into the hearts and minds of those who choose to make poetry out of their own life journey. Some of the writing is about travel, foreign and familiar parts are recalled and given a new face. Some, like Glen Peters in The Cockle Pickers, recall with feeling, a tragedy where others have suffered, and others like Anne Byrne-Sutton also look back on the personal tragedies of war and illness, and in Wendy Smit-Taylor and Rosemarie Barr, lost loved ones from the family are captured forever in words. Dave Urwin’s Quetzalcoatl’s Return is a fierce conundrum drawn from an Aztec prophesy, and has within it one of the rare qualities of poetry, that it can be read again and again to release new meaning. Silvie Morris, very much a part of the group, writes in her native French of ideas and familiar objects like her much loved desk, or secretaire. In The Hunter by Jackie Biggs, the power of the hawk, whose strike binds him to the landscape is captured and the language takes poetry into a visual art form. All of this interesting diversity is what the book is about. When Brenda Squires and Peter George set up the Penfro Poets meetings they began something which has happily developed a distinct life of its own. Peter’s words in Uley Bury; ‘step by step, trodden by generations, before the calendar and the counting of days’ is almost a definition of what poetry and song have been and still are, to mankind. And those who do it because they love to, like this small group of aspiring local people, some of whom also join together at the Cellar Bar, and whose voices excel in this collection, are well worth a listen. Penfro Poets is priced £2 and is published by Menter Rhosygilwen, available online at .firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com