The idea for this project came to me when I learnt of Andrew Motion’s initiative to create an archive for what I call “posh poets” and I thought “why not have one for all poets” and thePoetic Voices site was born.
I think it has about 40 poets at present and, naturally, I would like more; so poets please email me your recordings! If you click here, you are diverted to the page in which I gave some simple advice about this.
For me, a poem comes alive when voiced, particularly by the author and especially if the poem is being read to an audience as there is then interaction between, poem, poet and audience; the poem changes and the poet gets a sense of how the poem is being received which is helpful.
Here is me reading at an Enfield Poets’ evening in November 2019 at the Dugdale Centre; now closed as a culture and community centre by the council!!!
We do have an audience! Usually 20 to 25 but can be up to 40. The two photos below show the front row and whilst I was setting up.
Though sometimes they can express disapproval.
Last year, poet and artist Giovanna Iorio contacted me about her site Poetry Sound Library which is a sound archive for poetry and the recording can be any one reading any poem. It also has a fabulous map showing where the poets are. During one conversation, Giovanna told me how important the sound of someone’s voice is to her and that it is sad how quickly we can forget what someone sounds like, I agree, someone’s voice is so much part of who they are. Another reason why sound archives are so important.
If you would like to submit poems to be included or if you know of anyone who would like to have a page on the Poetic Voices site please click here.
Elsyng Palace was a family home for Henry VIII and his children, probably as large as Hampton Court. Each summer the Enfield Archaeological Society excavate a bit more and then cover it up to prevent weather damage. The patience and skill of those who trowel and brush are just amazing.
It is lovely to see how roots spread. Trees connect to each other by their roots using their own internet , Mycorrhiza. You can read about it in a superbe book “The Hidden Life of Trees”by Peter Wohlleben.
One of the local oral histories is that Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cloak for Queen, Elizabeth I to prevent her getting her feet wet at Maiden’s Bridge. Elizabeth lived in Elsyng Manor from time to time and Raleigh lived in nearby Chase Side so I feel it is a credible story.
This image is of what is probably a Victorian bridge but I like it and, it is called Maiden’s Bridge.
Some more images; it is a delightful spot.
and one of a tree:
All the above are in the Forty Hall Estatewhich, for a while, was owned by the Parker-Bowles family. Thinking about it all a poem came to me.
Maiden’s Bridge Here, five hundred years ago,
Raleigh laid down a cloak for his queen.
It was rich-velvet, patterned with fine jewels.
Half a millennium later,
A son of the family who came to own around here,
Laid down his willing wife for a prince.
About five miles from Forty Hall, just over the boundary in Essex, is Waltham Abbey. It has a connection with Elsyng through Henry VIII. It was the last Abbey to be taken over by Henry during the Reformation which he had planned whilst staying at Elsyng. The abbot was a very learned man and Henry enjoyed conversation with him. I have a tenuous connection too. The last Saxon king, Harald, was buried there some time after he was killed by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. One of the Knights that fought with William was Robert-with-a-beard. and of the 850,000 ancestors I have of that time, he is the only one I know! The U of my initials is for Umfreville which is derived from the village in Normandy he came from.
Enough of that! Waltahm abbey is delightful and we had in interesting visit. There are faces carved into the exterior stone and this is one most venal:
The ducks are more beautiful on the river near the mill race. They arranged their pose and waited for me to take the photograph quacking their impatience.
Inside the ceiling is beautiful with Victorian paintings of the zodiac. The magnificent organ is being restored so there is bright shiny scaffolding as you enter.
Last night Valerie and I went to a wonderful performance of music and poetry at All Saint’s Church, Edmonton. Produced by Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin, it was exceptional in quality and the senses it stimulated. When the lights went down the set, lit by candles (I counted 33) and simple spot lights, appeared as a painting and I would have been happy just looking at it imagining music and words as if I were in an art gallery. The cello played a few notes and then came Alastair’s electric piano. Aprés Un Rève is a beautiful piece and the performance was delightful.
I had left my camera at home so my trusty iPhone was pressed into use.
Alastair Gavin hidden behind his music and key board.
Mario Petrucci and Cheryl Moskowitz then read, both are evocative and thoughtful, good poets who perform well. Two excellent readings.
After the interval Mario read his translations of Sufi poems with Cheryl sounding very sinister. Alastair managed to conjure the desert and altered state of consciousness in a most extraordinary fashion and the music composed by him and Ian complimented and underpinned the poems in a sensitive and mystical way.
Performing For The LOVE of GOD.
The church is an unusually beautiful and gentle venue for performance and, to complete the enjoyment, there was incense hanging in the air.
Here is the rather crumpled programme. The next performance is on Thursday 19th April at All Saint’s Church. For details email:
A photograph, like a poem, can capture the moment, the essence of a person or place and take it straight to our soul bypassing the intellect. A poem will go through many drafts and some say is never finished but with digital photography an image such as the one above can be printed or disseminated across the internet within minutes of it being taken although, after spotting the opportunity for a shot, I waited some 10 to 15 minutes before the bird spoke to me. I used to take photos of the members of the Halliwick Penguins Swimming club, my late wife was a member and with my Nikon Ffitted with telephoto lens a polarising and blue filter using a 1500 asa Fuji film, I could take great portraits with the correct colour balance and no unsightly reflections from the water. Everyone would forget I was there as I wandered around the other side of the pool. Nowadays I would use Photoshop instead of filters.
The image below I took with a telephoto lens on my Panasonic hybrid camera. Again I had to be patient and wait.
Sometimes I have had to just point and click as the opportunity was fleeting. One such occasion was in St Maixent L’Ecole in France when we came across some Eastern European dancers during the annual music festival. How I managed to capture the dance in action I don’t know. It was several years ago. I used Photoshop to change the image and add the poem I wrote to capture the moment.
The Daguerreotype was the first publicly available photograph and was used between 1840 to late 1850s. A polished silver-plated copper plate was coated with a light sensitive colloid and exposed whilst still wet. This could be tens of minutes. The image was developed by exposing it to fumed mercury, a dangerous process indeed. The image appeared positive or negative depending on the angle of view. The finished image was very delicate and had to be kept between glass plates. Unfortunately I have yet to acquire a daguerreotype.
The Ambrotype , introduced in the mid 1850s, replaced the Daguerreotype. A wet solution of Silver nitrate was applied to a glass plate which was exposed in the camera. The exposure time was less and the image was developed and fixed in a much safer way and a black lacquer painted over it. When viewed through the glass it looked like a positive and was the right way round, as the side with the image was at the back under the black lacquer. A Daguerreotype is a mirror image.
The image quality is excellent and sometimes hand tinted as in this image where blue flowers, I believe, have been added to the woman’s hair
Often the Ambrotype was kept in a small mass-produced, pressed resin case and America supplied most I think. This means that the images must have been a standard size.
Then came the Tintype introduced in 1860 and used up to the 1930s though I saw a reference to the process not dying out until the early 1950s. An steel sheet is painted with a glossy black lacquer and coated with a solution of silver nitrate and exposed in the camera whilst still wet. There was also a dry process with the light sensitive salt held in a thin film of gelatine. The image was developed and fixed using potassium cyanide, deadly, deadly, but later with thiosulphate or “hypo”. The image is a negative and a mirror image so left is right and right left. The black lacquer causes the image to appear as a positive. It is a robust medium and so many have survived.
Tintypes are perhaps the beginning of what became snapshot photography aimed at ordinary, every-day people and I find them extremely interesting and have several; they are inexpensive and a valuable social record. It is absolutely fascinating wondering who they are, why are they having the picture taken. What was their relationship with each other, what is the story?
Here an Edwardian couple, seeking a souvenir of their holiday or day out, posing in a Studio in Ramsgate.
An image could be produced in minutes and were popular in fairgrounds. The instant photo booth is not new! Here is one from the USA sent to me by the artist husband of a family friend.
It is damaged and a bit crumpled but I like the serious family group and the magnificent beard. I imagine it being a treasured procession to be taken out on special occasions or perhaps displayed on a rough log mantle piece; a family heirloom in fact.
The following image is faint and probably means it was taken using the wet process. Which would have produced a thin film.
It looks a happy group, unusually all are smiling and I love the joy shining out. It is a mystery as I cannot decide what is nationality of the sitters nor why it has been cut in to the shape it is.
Some Tinplate cameras had up to 12 lenses so could take 12 images at a time. Here is a photo of one with 4 lenses.
One use for the multi lens cameras is that tiny tintypes, sometimes called “gems” can be produced and these could be incorporated into visiting cards, Carte de Visite. Below are the front and back of such a card. On the back is written an address in Bristol. I can’t read the rest. Printed on the card is “9 portraits for 7 1/2” about 15 pence. I suppose this means that the camera had 9 lenses.
When I first saw this I thought “Ah!” 1950s but, on enlarging the photograph I took, I could see that the shoes of the girls in the foreground are pure 1920s. Another souvenir from beside the sea taken perhaps by a journeyman photographer.
One of the great functions of my iPhone and Panasonic cameras is that of the panoramic photo. I have yet to explore it fully but it is great fun. The image below is of the shrimp fishing structures in Angoulins just south of La Rochelle on the West Coast of France.
It was one of the first panoramic photos I took and I was using my iPhone 5. I am amazed at the detail. Even when printed out 1 metre wide it looked good.
A panoramic camera must have been used for our school photos but I do not have any prints of these. There is one of me at Pre-medical school in University College London, I wanted to become a psychiatrist but needed to qualify as a doctor first. I was there for a year after working for one year as an operating theatre technician in a local hospital. I soon realised that my memory was just not good enough to continue my studies.
What a year! Andrew Huxley was professor of physiology – my favourite subject – and he was awarded a Nobel prize for his work on the giant squid neuron. Boy, was there cheering and hollering as he walked across the quadrangle; it was one of the occasions I will never forget. If you want to find me, follow the left hand corner of the masonry wall down and I am in the third row up, slightly right of centre.
A panoramic camera was an early development. Kodak introduced the Panoram No 1 in 1900 just a few years after the development of the first roll film. I am trying to find one but they are too costly at present so here is a photo of one I captured from the web.
There is no shutter the lens is cocked by pulling to the left or right and it swings in a 120 degree arc projecting the light onto the film held against a curve. Using 120 film 4 images could be produced. I found 5 prints produced by the Panoram on a postcard stall and they fascinated me and for £1 were a bargain! Here is a couple of them.
The poem mentions old postcards from the First World War but they are for another blog; this has gone on long enough.