I had a lovely time at Puzzle Hall in Sowerby Bridge, in the company of Freda Davis, Gaia Holmes and Sean Bamforth. Freda told me an amazing story of her aunt, who worked as a governess in Imperial Russia and after the 1917 revolution travelled with her pupils across the country by train to flee into China, from where she brought the children to the US, and went back to the UK herself.
Gaia very kindly said: “a BIG daffodil yellow thank you to you for being our guest at ‘The Puzzle’. You were wonderful…poems of poignancy, power and variety.” Very generous, coming from a skilled and emotional poet such as Gaia Holmes. Gaia was also kind enough to take this atmospheric photo (above). Thank you, Gaia!
Puzzle Hall Poets have an interesting tradition: poets bring and show physical objects that are related to their poetry. So, I brought a set of postcards with images of my hometown Tomsk, printed in the 1980s – for my “The Way through Tomsk” poem. In it, I, echoing the structure of Rudyard Kipling‘s “The Way Through the Woods”, trace all the places familiar to me since my childhood that got closed and turned into cogs of capitalist machine.
But most importantly of all, I brought a fridge magnet version of a drawing by Rachel Johns, my frame drumming friend and an immensely talented artist, whose works overflowing with feminine earth power take me away every time. I paired her drawing with my poem “My beloved is with me”, which, as Freda Davis astutely noted, is a nod/parody of “The Song of Songs“.