Tuesday 27th January - Rhona McAdam & Rebecca Perry

For our first event of 2015 we're very excited to present a visiting poet from Canada -- the wonderful Rhona McAdam, whose 6th collection was published just before Christmas -- and from London the brilliant Rebecca Perry, whose PBS-recommended first collection is fresh out from Bloodaxe. It's all happening at The Gonville on Tuesday 27th January 2015: come and sign up for an open mic slot from 7.30pm.

Rhona McAdam is a poet, food writer and holistic nutritionist. She has published 6 full length poetry collections and a work of nonfiction about urban agriculture. She holds a master's degree in food culture & communication from Slow Food's University of Gastronomic Sciences in Parma, Italy.

She grew up on Vancouver Island, spent the eighties in Edmonton Alberta, the nineties in London England, and moved to Victoria in 2002. She has had a life-long engagement with food, having eaten her way through Europe and worked as a cook and a food writer. Her poetry has been published in Canada, the US, Ireland and England and she has been praised for her unique and engaging voice, her clarity, and her ability to balance the ethereal with the real.

'Rhona McAdam writes poems that are simultaneously delicate, lyrical, sharp-edged, and satiric. There is often something deadly serious and intensely engaging under what appears to be a light surface.' Prairie Fire

Rhona McAdam's sixth collection of poems, Ex-ville, her latest, reflects upon what we leave behind: the people, places and journeys that shape our lives. We peer through many doorways in this suburb of the imagination. The poet's move back to Canada from her home in England unfolds in a bittersweet series of poems that probe the meaning of departure and arrival.

'These are beautiful, sad poems, well-wrought and solid as a pewter beer-mug.' NeWest Review

Her blog which manages to be a wonderful mix of poetry and food can be found here.

Rebecca Perry was born in 1986 in London. She graduated from Manchester’s Centre for New Writing in 2008 and currently lives in London where she works in publishing. Her poems have appeared in many magazines. Her pamphlet, little armoured (Seren), won the Poetry Wales Purple Moose Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice.

'This young poet's range is remarkable. Her wit and quicksilver shifts may be shared by other young poets... but Perry is distinctive in the clarity of her conclusions, as in her description.'  Alison Brackenbury, Poetry Wales

Throughout 2014 Rebecca worked in collaboration with the Glej Theatre in Slovenia, writing a performance piece called Silent City, exploring the lives of European youth. Her first book-length collection is Beauty/Beauty (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

'Not since Jo Shapcott’s Electroplating the Baby or Simon Armitage’s Zoom has a poet emerged with such a distinctive, original voice.'  John McAuliffe

The world of Beauty/Beauty is ‘built from the nose/out, like a painting’, accumulating its various feelings, ideas, objects, disappointments and joys to the point of almost overflowing. Preoccupied with demise and loss, as well as reimagination and regeneration, Rebecca Perry’s debut collection has the duality and symmetry of its title at its core. Beauty/Beauty is a book with tenderness running through its veins, exploring salvation, reparation and the fullness of being alive; the difficulty of defining what love is, the heartbreak, the faraway friends, the overwhelming abundance of things in museums. It is alive with memories, with old loves hanging around in the corners of dark rooms, ghost mouths hidden inside the mouth you are kissing, and eulogies to dearly departed pets.

As John McAuliffe commented, 'Rebecca Perry’s Beauty/Beauty is, immediately, a vivid and charming book – but it is also doing something new. Its readers will find that Perry has invented and made her own a kind of poem which seems to have a white fracture in it, a formal manoeuvring that accentuates the tenderness and intelligence of this remarkable debut.'

Tuesday 27th January, The Gonville, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30, readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £5/£4.


For seven years I lived in the air,
crossing meridians, slipping timeless
between airports and offices.
The earth became something
I worked with my shadow
like a bird, or a careful farmer,
harvesting sleep.
I learned my job’s language
as my mother tongue;
took its seasons for my own,
for work was the body that never aged.
I breathed my job. I ate it. In time
it became my family and I helped it grow.
I fed it from my own plate.
It was always hungry.
One morning I left for work
and returned years later to a place
where there had always been
dogs and afternoon light;
a flower seller
wrapping his perishable worlds.

Rhona McAdam


Many times I’ve become lost
and snapped out of it next to a rose bush
and bins in someone’s front garden 
or by a four-way crossing, car horns
and my mouth is full of boring questions.
Many times I’ve become lost
and found myself helpless as a snow globe
on a mantelpiece in unforgiving sun.

When I kiss someone new my mouth 
hosts the ghost mouths of old loves.
A TV static mouth, a cigarette mouth, 
a mouth full of piano air and its own ghosts.
And when I touch someone new my hands
are full of grass from all the countries
I’ve visited alone.

If you look hard enough at any flower
it can resemble some part of the human body.
All living things are busy imitating each other
and while my tongue attempts shadows 
of a poppy petal and my belly button is a rosebud
I’ve become lost again on my lookout for a
lost soul who also doesn’t believe in souls.

Rebecca Perry

2014-2015 Programme

Our fourth-Tuesday event dates are given below, with remaining readers for the year to be confirmed soon. All events offer open mic floor spots. Readings start at 8pm, with doors open from 7.30pm, and usually finish well before 10pm.

Tuesday 23rd September 2014 -- Mark Waldron & Fay Roberts -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 28th October 2014 -- Allison McVety & Ben Wilkinson -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 25th November 2014 -- Dean Parkin -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 27th January 2015 -- Rhona McAdam & Rebecca Perry -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 24th February 2015, Tuesday 24th March 2015, Tuesday 28th April 2015, Tuesday 26th May 2015 -- readers TBC