The February POEMS OUT LOUD was held, for a change, in Maspalomas, in the garden of Jeannie and Tony van Rompaey’s house. We met at 1.0 p.m. After greeting everyone and making sure everyone had a drink, we sat on the back patio in a circle and read poems while Tony prepared a snack – various kinds of cheeses, bread and dry biscuits, plus a little greenery, salad and tomatoes. We moved to the front for lunch and chat and then returned to the back for more poems. Fifteen people attended and a very pleasant afternoon was had by all. We did have a few spots of rain but not enough to drive us inside.
As it was the day after Saint Valentine’s, the theme was Love Sweet and Sour and, as usual, the members of the group presented a variety of different poems, both traditional and modern. Pepita treated us to a poem by Tomás Morales and Heather to Sonnet 43 “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Both poems were beautifully read so that the meaning, rhythm and meaning shone through whether in Spanish or English. Danuta read a short poem in Swedish, which we all appreciated even though none of us knew the language! It’s one of the joys of these sessions that poetry is seen to transcend the boundaries of language. Sonja read Pablo Naruda’s “I do not Love you except because I love you” in a good English translation and favourite poets such as John Donne and W.B. Yeats were also well-represented with choices tending to favour older lovers. I wonder why? We were pleased to welcome back Julie Elphee and enjoyed her rendering of Seamus Heaney’s “Scaffolding” while Melvyn gave us a poem by A.E Houseman and acted as Jasper’s ghost (Jasper there in spirit but not in presence) with the latter’s choice, “Love and Debt” by Sir John Suckling. Marilyn read a telling poem with an interesting history by Leo Marks. Last but not least, Chris and Philomena Winn read an amusing but telling poem, “Valentine” written by John Fuller, Professor Emeritus of Literature at the University of Oxford, proof if needed that professors are not all stuffy academics.
I’m afraid to report that the session ended with a very badly sung version of “My Funny Valentine.” We just didn’t seem to be able to grasp the tune and the result was a fiasco that ended in giggles. My neighbours have been looking at me very strangely ever since.
Next month, March 1917, we hope to be back at the British Club as usual. I haven’t a date yet, but it will be circulated at the beginning of March. The theme will be “Home Thoughts from Abroad.”Nostalgia for one’s own country is normal, but it’s also worth looking for poems about immigrants and refugees forced to leave their countries of origin. And what about people of various nationalities who spend large parts of their lives in countries other than their own? Search far and wide for stimulating poems to fit this theme. All are welcome to join us. It’s a friendly, open group.