Magic in the mix: laid-back poetry night casts its own spell

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I hesitate to write about this poetry night, for fear of breaking its spell. All poetry nights are different in their own way, but Wooler Poetry Café close to the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland has a formula that works really well, judging from the packed room and happy audience in the Warm Hub at Wooler URC on Friday night.

You’re invited to read something you’ve written yourself, or a favourite poem by someone else. There’s no guest poet, and last night we were limited to one poem each, because of the numbers. No one minded.

The reading order is picked out of a hat, and it could only have been coincidence that the penultimate reader was published Northumberland poet Noel Hodgson, and the final one the local bookshop owner who had read a very moving poem about his baby granddaughter a few months before.

Before that the poetry included Robert Burns, Mary Oliver, and a hilarious recording about border smuggling by Irish poet Seamus O’Rourke, plus self-penned works about a Wooler benefactor and a replica fountain constructed in his honour, and a tribute to the farming community and their unsung work in helping to maintain the nation’s food supplies, illustrated by the patchwork of English fields that you can see from a plane.

It's not a night that would be to everyone’s taste. But no one shouted or roared, and there were no egos in evidence. What was shared was a love of poetry. The relaxed and good-humoured night is organised by Wooler Arts. Admission is £2, and for that you can get a beverage and cake, or bring your own liquid refreshment. The next Wooler Poetry Café will be held at 7pm at the same venue, on Friday 9 September.  



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