2013-2014 Series

CB1 Poetry continues at The Boathouse but moving to the fourth Thursday of the month, and we have a fantastic programme taking shape for 2013-2014.

Later in the series, we're looking forward to readings from Emily Berry, whose superb Dear Boy from Faber was just shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and a special night celebrating Carcanet Press, featuring several readers including wonderful London Olympics poet Caroline Bird, whose fourth collection The Hat-Stand Union is just out from Carcanet.

In September we enjoyed a fantastic reading from Irish poet and Poetry Review editor Maurice Riordan -- some photos below.


Thursday 28th November - Alan Murray and Andrea Porter

CB1 Poetry is at The Boathouse again on Thursday 28th November starting at 8pm (doors open 7.30pm). This month we have Alan Murray and Andrea Porter reading for CB1. Both poets have been published extensively and will make for an interesting and varied evening of poetry. There will be an open mike as usual. It may be cold wet and dark before 5pm but defy the elements and come if you can, it will be worth the effort.

Alan Murray has spent most of his adult life studying and teaching philosophy, working at various London universities. He won the Torbay Poetry Competition in 2004 and Acumen published a new pamphlet Perhaps in October. The poems are concerned with the idea of ‘the self’ and the contradictions it gives rise to, but they are all rooted in everyday experience and are often intimate and conversational, even when written in strict forms, Taken as a whole, the poems offer a balance of head and heart, with tender love lyrics and elegies alongside the sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek metaphysical musings.

Andrea Porter's latest publication House of the Deaf Man (Gatehouse Press) is a collaboration with the artist Tom de Freston based on the Black Paintings Francisco Goya painted on the walls of his house in the last few years of his life. Her first collection A Season of Small Insanities was published by Salt. Her pamphlet Bubble (published by Flarestack) was adapted into a play by the award winning dramatist Fraser Grace and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her poems have been published in many magazines in the UK, Eire, Canada and the USA, in anthologies and have been included in Poems of the Decade published by Faber. She is a tutor for the Poetry School. She is a member of The Joy of Six poetry ensemble that has performed at many festivals and poetry venues both here and in New York.

'the fascinating cut glass surfaces of her work, always tug against an undercurrent of darkness and violence.' Jo Shapcott

Of House of the Deaf Man, Sir Anthony Sher (Actor, Director, Writer and Artist) said 'This book is a remarkable thing. Andrea Porter's poems and Tom de Freston's images capture the spirit of Goya's Black Paintings without aping them: in other words, they are entirely their own thing, yet inspire in the reader/viewer the same sense of disquiet and dread and awe -because there is a beauty too. It's as if they have both breathed in his darkness and made it their own.'

'Like her Shaman, Porter draws survivors and ghosts about her, and with a hawk's eye for happenstance of living language, she rewrites myth, catching the white of Shiva's eye, acknowledging both chaos and random kindness, harm and hilarity.' Jen Hadfield

Thursday 28th November, The Boathouse, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30pm Readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £5/£4.


Up till then, a stranger to the trowel,
The only tools he’d known, the pen, the book,
He made this little garden for his wife.
A square of lawn, edged with white Alyssum,
Holding the line against a jostling crowd
Of flowering shrubs and mauve Nemesias,
He’d been surprised by the joy he felt, digging
Through the days of frosts and fuschia skies,
And seeing dimly in the dirt how sometimes
Things contrive to lead us from the path
We’ve chosen, only to find that we have strayed,
Unwittingly, into our own lives.

Alan Murray


After the Black Painting ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’ by Francisco Goya

In the dining room I have finished the grasping hands,
the air is thick with the smell and even my deaf ears
detect the high notes of putrefaction that coat the wall.

The eyes bother me, the necessity for a shade of white,
too desperate for my palette makes the mixing of paint
another exercise in the toxic arts. The lead has stoppered
the jug of my brain enough to make the chemistry risky.

I have studied the priest in the inn eating a leg of lamb
to get the right degree of lean into the meat of the body.

The half erect penis may cause guests a little trouble.
All this power must be underlined by a sexual thrill,
besides this hard-on is only for private consumption.

Flesh that springs from our own loins is sweetest,
tender with all the hopes we baste them with.
What does he taste, this father; ripeness of muscle,
juices of a heart yet to feel the treacherous moment?
Is it salted with tears, the most ancient preservation?

Death is easily spat out but you need a strong stomach
when it comes to swallowing the whole corpus of love.

If I stop for lunch, the paint will congeal like blood.

Andrea Porter