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Last night, Helen Reid, one of LCWO’s founder members and part of the core group of highly-committed volunteers who make LCWO function in the day-to-day, launched her poetry pamphlet, A Field Guide to Wedding Guests, in front of a small group of friends and family at Oxford’s Musuem of Modern Art.  She was joined by mentor and inspiration Jenny Lewis, and three other poets from Jenny’s Poets House Pamphlets publishing collective, who also each read poems.

 

Environmental themes in Helen’s writing

After reading from her book, Helen was asked about how her longtime concern and activism for the environment finds expression in her written work; she said she is increasingly finding herself drawn to write about the climate crisis – so watch this space.

In the meantime, here is a poem I find deeply moving from her current collection, 3: Wedding Algae, one of the wedding portraits which run through the pamphlet:

 

 

The pamplet is really quite wonderful, and has received a lot of well-deserved praise.

‘This debut pamphlet from Helen Reid is a little box of delights, showing something new and surprising on each page.  An ex-wife’s skin cells, to an urban fox, to a bored angel who lets a lucky little hominid root around on top, all punctuated by the sharply observed ‘Field Guide to Wedding Guests’.  Reid’s imagery is precise and her language sparks with energy so that this reader could feel the Silkie’s distant rushing joy.’

Angela France

Poetry about Svalbard

The three other poets read from their work, providing a mix of styles, on very different topics and all of very high quality (prompting my 11-year-old daughter to say “this is surprisingly good” of the evening as a whole – perhaps a quote for the website!): Catherine Faulds from Decoding the Dark; Lynn Thornton from The Tyring House; and Margot Myers from I Meant to Say.  Catherine Faulds’ pamplet deserves particular mention on this blog due to the nature of its birth and environmental focus – she writes beautifully about her trip to the twenty-four-hour-dark Arctic Svalbard, with photographer Sarah Davidmann.  You can read more about it and hear her read a poem from it here.

‘In this compelling sequence Catherine Faulds evokes a starkly beautiful but threatened landscape. With clear-sighted observation her poems celebrate this place of snow, ice and polar darkness while also displaying the tragic impact of environmental destruction.’ 

Jane Clarke

It reminded me of the Hermaphrodite Polar Bear, a painting by artist Gary Hume, which he created after an artist-environment trip to Svalbard – its power drew me in and prompted the start of my personal journey into environmental activism (previously mentioned on the LCWO blog here).

Pamphlets available online

All four pamplets can be purchased in Blackwell’s and in various other ways as detailed on the Poet’s House Pamphlets website).

Helen’s can also be bought directly from her poetry website, https://helenreidpoet.co.uk/.

Left to right: poets Jenny Lewis, Helen Reid, Catherine Faulds, Lynn Thornton and Margot Myers

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