Miriam Obrey
Three Counties Agricultural Societies

Background

The Three Counties Showground was proposed as an interesting setting for a poetry place, where visitors would be invited to help raise the awareness of poetry along with local poet Miriam Obrey who would lead writing workshops for all abilities.

 Report
Miriam Obrey 

A reading of poetry produced during my time at The Three Counties Showground took place on Thursday 25th May. It was well attended with writers reading their own poems and work of those who were unable to come. It was suggested that the end of my placement could mark the beginning of a new phase for the Showground Poetry Place.

Having been given the go-ahead to use the Leadon Pavilion for ongoing poetry functions, several writers have shown an interest in the possibility of leading the occasional writing workshop. I'd be very happy to organise this and in the meantime will continue to display poems submitted in our permanent display case.

The workshops themselves were well attended also and covered events including a boat jumble Where a great maritime people/ and a nation of shopkeepers/ come to terms with each other as Don Barnard noted on a day that Dave Reeves found as blustery as the first line of 'Hornblower'.

At an antiques fair John Alcock discovered maps with old routes/ mapped long ago/ as so many here today/ testify in Severn Hall/ rerunning dinky dreams along time-bleached roads/ over Meccano bridges/ to their once upon a time.

While Chris Milne the chief executive of the Three Counties Agricultural Society was away holidaying in Marrakech, I observed Oceans away,/ beyond the blue-glass eyes and camelhide of the kazbah,/ another spectacle was set in the lee of two Beacons/ where Nigel, Anette and Mike were busy conjuring/ their magic sequence; printing up a stack of tickets,/ matching paper cups and cans of 7-up to projected numbers;/ checking barriers while pacing out a safety distance/ far from the cous-cous, calabashes and gold dust of Africa -/ in preparation for the pig roast and fireworks display.

At the Autumn Show Hilary Jayne heard a judge remark, 'Ray the first' with royal fingered emerald beans/ And please salute the champion Charlie grew./ And can you hear another cheer? Ray wins again -// His lengthy flags of splendid green have topped/ The other super-leeks. So Hopton near Stafford/ Raise your glass to these proud men, parade/ Their horticultural skills - and drink to Ray and Charlie's// Most meretricious Vegetables.

At a horse sale David Hart wrote: Once slaves were bought and sold like this, led in, paraded, talked up,/ bid for, contracted on the hammer, and led out again.// I have a great urge/ to put up my hand, to leap it up. And I, Miriam, wondered about the value of a pink snip/ on the nose of a starless, soft-lipped mare./ The sock-count system;/ when to try, buy or shy clear of a colt. And I found that a walleye was not, as commonly thought,/ a mean eye,/ but a priceless marble set in the head of a horse.

The last event of my placement was recorded by Phil McKelliget. The Malvern Spring Show// Is a pause button. Press it/ And Spring halts./ All that head-long, fast-forward,/ Free-fall and tremble of green/ And greenish-yellow unfurling/ Stuff of Spring is held/ In freeze-frame, in glazed/ Perfection and poise. And we/ Blur through as though/ A tulip windscreen, grasping/ Desperate handfulls of columbines,/ Garden sheds, secateurs, waffles,/ Handholds perhaps, before the whole/ Machinery fires up and spring/ Accelerates past, burning out/ As it re-enters the heavy/ Atmosphere of summer.

- Miriam Obrey

 


 

The Malvern Showground Poetry Place
Further Notes by Miriam Obrey

Poetry writing workshops were scheduled alongside the November Collectors' Toy Fair, the February Boat Jumble, the March Auto Jumble and Classic Motorcycle Show, the April Horse Sale and the May Spring Gardening Show. The placement culminated in a Poetry Party which gave everyone who participated a chance to read a poem.

I'm pleased both with the response I've had from poets and by the work that's coming in. The press release last month brought in a trickle of writers. What I'd like to see also are some workshops for young people, maybe in one of the local schools; also workshops for members of the public who have never written but would like to. This is something that may come out of the Malvern poetry placement.

I have discovered the totally-new-to-me Market Traders' Language.

Following are several poems produced during these workshops.

 


 

Miriam Obrey
A Bull called Ulf

for Rebecca Sherriff

Ulfwi the heavy flank'n' brisket. Deep chested

wi a dewlap wot pollinates the buttercups;

wi a tail wot slaps the bot-flies. Big-hearted

wi a coat wot glisters rich chocolate in the rain

an' a crop'v curls sprung tight as budding ferns.

 

Oy'd gi'the the scurs off me yud for winters

wi silage an' cattle-cake, up to me belly

in oat straw an' seed-hay, indoors. Fer spring

an' the sun on me rump. Fer Lucerne

an' lush-puggings; young shoots uv 'atherns,

the buzz uv clover an' the flush uv meadowgrass

from fust cuckoo on to fust October frost,

'ere wi Fancy, Snowdrop, Nip an' th'others.

Fer the red dust'v Pensax oy kicks up

when oy pounds the ground'n bellocks back

at thot lairy auld Welsh Black over Rock way;

when oy cowses me 'ayfers round the field

an' rides 'em, steaming, up the 'adland.

 

Soon as oy be done'a-that, oy muntles aarf

to suck the coolth from a water trow,

then settles back among me cows an' calves.

And as evening turns to milk - when the sun

slips behind us like a vixen - we drops

among the hatching crane flies, me an them,

in the scutch te chew us cud. An' th'only sound

te break the rythm of us belch'n-graanch'n-swaller

be that'v a tractor chunterin' back 'wurn,

an' th'old cock pheasant caark-caarkin' up te roost.

 

 

Hilary Jayne
Class 13A & 171 - First Prizes

For Mr. Bassett and Mr. Maisey

Mr. Bassett's leeks and beans

Haven't been beaten yet

Or Mr. Maisey's cucumber catching the light

On long black tables -

 

Charlie's truncheon, a plate of perfect beans,

Ray's cornucopia of mermaid flags

The interlock of pearly skins

Green to luminescent white leading the swim

 

To the annual prize

Strengthened by Ray's liquid summer brew,

The nightly potash after June.

How wise they seem, these men

 

In matters mineral or vegetable -

Green-fingered inspectors feeding their seedlings

Through rain or drought

Demolishing the fly and visiting slug

 

With an eye on cats or feathers

With their vandal beaks

Til autumn's measure checks the growth

Along the weather watching weeks

 

And a Malvern judge proclaims

'Ray's the First' with royal fingered emerald beans

And please salute the champion Charlie grew.

And can you hear another cheer? Ray wins again -

 

His lengthy flags of splendid green have topped

The other super-leeks. So Hopton near Stafford

Raise your glass to these proud men, parade

Their horticultural skills - and drink to Ray and

Charlie's

 

Most Meritricious Vegetables

Exhibited near these copper-brackened Malvern Hills.

 

Miriam Obrey
As the Turkey Flies

I have a turkey in my pocket.

And as the world slips back

we two spin on, straight

as a turkey flies, following the sun

as it trips and bleeds

across the ridge of Abdon Burf.

 

A goose hisses under my pillow

and as the moon floats beyond the window;

as it wobbles across the sky to sit out the night

on the crest of the Beacon,

it is God's eye that stops to blink

through a crack in the curtains.

 

I have a light Sussex hen in the toe of my sock

and know that between Malvern's Sugar Loaf

and the foot of the Brown Clee Hills

the cocks of Worcestershire and Shropshire

will crow from the edge of night as it pools

below the dead and dying stars of the Mulky Way.

 

And the woman that lies snug

here in the curve of my life line

carries enough corn to feed them all.

And I know that under her chipped blue frock

the soles of her feet,

her heart and her guts are burnished lead.

(Toy Collectors' Fair, 26 March 2000)

Dave McClure

Carve me a tree. Hurry,

while we sing in the ginger cup.

Let the dog and the partridge worry!

Carve me a tree. Hurry,

for the marmalade smells like slurry

and the lamp-post time is up.

Carve me a tree. Hurry,

while we sing in the golden cup.

Young Poets Network