Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Poetry Live


[Update Sept 2, 2017] I am not well at the moment but no worries. Going into hospital soon, but hoping for a short stay and able to resume linking to posts/poems via my Google Plus site;

Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy browsing the blog/s anyway. You can, of course find poems via the search field in the top right hand corner.]

[Update  March 25, 2017]: Well, the poetry evening is  done and dusted. Not a lot of people came but we enjoyed ourselves and it raised a tidy sum for Prostate Cancer UK. (I have been living with prostate cancer since 2011 during which time hormone therapy has prevented it from becoming aggressive.) There's nothing quite like live poetry.) Everyone seemed to appreciate my choice of gay-interest and general poems and we all got on well during the break which was really nice as some people had only just met for the first time. The arts are meant firstly to entertain and secondly to offer food for thought. Feedback suggests the evening was a success on both counts.

For me, personally, it was hard work but a labour of love so I'm glad I went ahead with it despite being a bag of nerves...which, thankfully, steadied once I got started. This year marks sixty years of getting my poetry into print, given that my first published poem appeared in my school magazine summer 1957.]

I did not have the confidence to read in public for years. However, after a few years of occasionally performing Open Mics at Farrago Poetry evenings in London, I found the self-confidence to accept invitations to give readings around the UK (2003-2014). Only weeks after a reading in 2014, I had a bad fall and have spent much of the last two years learning to walk again. I can get out and about quite well now with the aid of a walking stick, for which I am truly thankful as my left ankle had sustained a complicated fracture and I was warned I might never walk again. Oh, but I love walking and am stubborn enough to defy any harbingers of doom. Even so, I did not expect to give another poetry reading.

Now, this first poem appeared in Visions of the Mind, Spotlight Poets (Forward Press) in 1998 and subsequently in my first collection,  Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001. It is an early piece, written in the summer of 1976 during which I gave an impromptu reading of it in Trafalgar Square to a friend (and several appreciative passers-by who paused to listen.) 



to music, out of words
let the sun rise
in the eyes of that ragged-eared mongrel
curled on George’s doorstep
tongue lolling stupidly
nostrils a-smoke


to music, out of words
let carnival hot dogs
substitute for garden scents,
make easier the stink
of slop-outs in
the gutter


out of choc-smeared mouths
in Bank Holiday sunshine;
kids in glad rags spilling
on the streets like bin bags;
shirtsleeves copper
getting chatty


Copyright R. N. Taber 1998; 2017

I never dreamt that 30+ years on I would be reading a selection of my poems there, this time to a global audience via web stream as my contribution to Sir Antony Gormley’s ‘live’ sculpture project, One and Other (2009) sponsored by Sky Arts. To view, click on:
https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20100223131109/http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/Roger_T    [For now, at least, this link needs the latest Adobe Flash Player  and works best in Firefox; the archives website cannot run Flash but changes scheduled for later this year may well mean the link will open without it. Ignore any error message and give it a minute or so to start up. The video lasts an hour. ] RT Feb 2018

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Bonding, an Aversion to Pear-Shapes

Many people seem to take friendships - including family relationships - for granted, always expecting the other person to keep in touch. As I grow old, I find I have less patience with this attitude. (I will be 72 this year.) 

I have nothing in common with any surviving members of my family; there is no point in pretending otherwise and I simply don't go along with the idea that family is family, whatever it takes. On the other hand, we actively seek out, select and bond with friends so it can be hurtful when they appear to care less about us than we do about them. (Could we have been reading the wrong signals from the start? Invariably, not...)

I care about my friends and they care about me, but no significant few always wait for me to phone, email, make time to visit or suggest meeting up and/or going somewhere. A friend may be ill, and if there is any reason I cannot visit, I will always try to keep in touch and offer at least moral support if no other. Personal experience has taught me how much a phone call (especially) or text, email, a card even...just knowing someone is thinking of you and wishing you well can uplift even the worst of flagging spirits. Sometimes, though, what two people see as a potential friendship doesn't quite have what it takes, and whether it becomes lopsided (one-sided?) or simply drifts into the mists of time, we have to be philosophical about it.  A meaningful friendship, however, will always last if only because those concerned make time to communicate and iron out any problems or misunderstanding that may well arise along the way. 

Any friendship worth having is always worth trying to save, and if both parties are of the same mind, saved it will invariably be... so long, that is, as someone is prepared to make the first move. Alas, otherwise, all may well go pear-shaped.

Oh, but friends are only human, and we all live busy lives. Even so…a little thought really does go a long way. (Could it be that someone is dialling my number right now?  Oh, what the heck? Reaching for the phone...)

This poem is a kenning.


I am the tear that lingers on the eye
as it peers through the mirror of its days
and cares not for all it sees,
blots out dark clouds and acid rain,
settles joy once again
on the heart gladly given to another
in happier times
freely embracing me for its sharing, 
and (like love) enduring 

I am the tear that lingers on the cheek
having expected to receive dawn’s kisses,
but left smarting instead
from a slap by the cold light of day
in return for deeds played out
with best intentions but resulting
in such livid recriminations
as give rise to altercation that defies
either logic or justification

I am the smile that lingers on the lips
after apologies gladly accepted, if rather
late in the day, but better by far
than stubbornly corroding a mind,
anxious to recover all it has lost
yet never quite appreciated…until
fingers reaching for the phone
hesitate to dial my number, and life
goes pear shaped

Wherever dawns pass and sunsets dip,
I am there for you, called Friendship

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

[Note: First published as 'No Appetite for Pears' in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]