Hampshire Arts Service

Hampshire Poet 2012

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Hampshire County Council have named their local poet laureate for the year ahead. Following a competition attracting over 60 entries the role of Hampshire Poet 2012 has been awarded to Winchester resident Brian Evans-Jones. This biennial honorary role was established back in 2008 in celebration of the National Year of Reading. The winning poet receives four paid commissions to commemorate local council projects and activities during the year and also becomes a Hampshire advocate for the pleasures of reading and writing.

Brian Evans-Jones works as a full-time teacher of creative writing, teaching both for Winchester University and the Open University, and has held many writing workshops at the Winchester Discovery Centre. Winning the title will allow Brian to explore other areas of the county, and work with people of all ages, from experienced writers to those who have never written a line of poetry before.

Published poet Steven O'Brien was a competition judge. The Hampshire Poet winner in 2010, Shaun Aquilina, was also one of the judges this time round. He said

"Brian's poems showcased his ability to write about the personal and the public, which is vital for the Hampshire Poet. His imagery can surprise us and move us. I'm confident he'll bring his passion for poetry to people across the county, inspiring and delighting writers, readers and listeners."

"The role of Hampshire Poet offers a wonderful year of opportunities. You get to write for and meet many wonderful people. I was certainly a better writer by the end of the 12 months and I hope Brian will feel the same. "

On hearing about the decision Brian said

"I was really excited to find out that I'd been chosen, because I think it's a wonderful chance to take poetryto people all over the county. I hope to use it to get lots of folk interested in reading and writing poetry, and finding out how much pleasure it can give.”

 

A String Of Moments

My daughter has reached the top of the stairs.
She loves games here: every toy dragged up, bears, balls, books, cups, and now necklaces

that she's learning to flail and snap.
She likes to put them on her bears
but this one, having a broken clasp,

is different - just a line of shining baubles.
When she whirls it, it's lightning,
threatening my eyes. On the floor, it's a mythic snake,

curling round the last thing it ate. But now she's practising making it straight, absolutely straight, on the landing. She lowers it down,

then where it curved she nudges,
nudges the kink her nudging created,
re-lifts and re-lays, adjusts again - until she gets it

quite, quite straight. We lean to admire.
In each cheap sphere the same thing appears:
the image of us, our faces together.

Clear now the differences made by her mother:
the way her hair is lighter, her eyes much bigger - lakes where love can anchor.

She doesn't move, and neither do I.
She's thinking 'straight' without knowing the word.
I'm trying to swallow this time and curl round

 

Set-Up at Hyde Laundry

(from the '10 Days at the Laundry' arts event, Winchester 2009)

The freezing warehouse is a Kandinsky:
red verticals, blue horizontals, sculpt dirty white space.

A million shirts and sheets came here.
Workdays etched onto collars.
The traces of love. Smears of sweat
printed on clean white sleep.
A million original canvases -
and they were wiped out.

Now we daub on this raw whiteness
oil; pastel; ink; pencil; words.
The composition takes its shape.
Between supporting reds, a block of blue screen.
A yellow square interrupts a pillar.
Grey ladders break the distance.

And after ten days, this too will be swept away.
My sneezes, like all ghosts, summon echoes.

 
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By Sea and Forest Enchanted

This town starts inland: a fluttering trim
of birdsong, tied to every tree. Sloped green
a reach away. Then walls that wave you in;
windows that billow; modest brick and cream.
These are the salt which flavours all the scene —

the shining cars lined up like crabs on stalls;
the bobbing shops, the crowds that drift in shoals.
All set on a long, west-to-east rise
that makes to smuggle you into the sky —
but at its crest breaks, and rolls you down
in close-hugging alleys shelled with stone.

Then with two strides, the quay —
open light, and water stitched fold-long;
where breezes stroke the rigging into song,
and white hulls dream of blue and endless sea.

By Brian Evans-Jones, Hampshire Poet for 2012

 

What’s Bright Is Scattered

  • Winter night, and driving home. Fear
    of Monday as tight on my chest
    as the frost’s black grip out there.

    I want to stop. A radio mast
    blinks red-eyed from a hillcrest.
    I pull over, switch off, climb.

    The hill is silent, and it’s mine.  
    I drink down peace. Far city
    past hearing, wind still, roads empty.

    And stars: spear-tips of flame that fly
    through me, sharpened by frozen air.
    Bright as love, sure as gravity.

    I find known shapes. Belted hunter
    Orion, with godlike shoulders,
    firm sword. The Pleiades, there

    only if I look
    slant across
    their smudged outline, small and weak.
    I trace their glowing pictures,

    but the lines snuff black — so much dark,
    so much, that I seem to lose
    the light; all stories, patterns, break.

    What’s bright is scattered, so sparse
    that perhaps the stars are nothing
    and life itself as blank as space.

    But they stopped me – made me climb
    to wonder, as humans will,
    and I feel a space closing

    between me and long-dead kin
    stopping too on the hills of Wales
    or Africa, and wondering

    Why spill all this beauty up there?
    I’ve no answer – but asking stills.
    Look: there they are.  

    Written in response to the National Poetry Day theme of ‘stars’

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