Start of the journey: Poetry School's 'Routes' students recapture introductory year with anthology

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A poetry celebration took place in the upstairs room of the Betsey Trotwood pub, on London’s Farringdon Road, on Thursday night.  The popular poetry venue saw the launch of Recapture, a pamphlet anthology of work by students from the Poetry School’s Routes into Poetry class of 2013-14. Some were relatively new to poetry when they started the class, and some were reading in public, to a packed audience, for the first time on the night.

I should declare an interest here. As a fellow student on another course a few doors along at the Poetry School  in Lambeth Walk, I witnessed at first hand the infectious high spirits and enthusiasm of the Routes into Poetry gang, as they piled into the nearby pub post-class, led by tutor Tamar Yoseloff - even before they had ordered their drinks. There was a poetic joie de vivre there that was just as evident in the Betsey on Thursday night.  

Thirteen poets read on the night, with Tammy standing in for the 14th. We had sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, experimental poetry, performance poetry, and a prize-winning specular; there were poems about RS Thomas’ Llyn peninsula, a Liverpool grandfather’s thwarted art ambitions, a beloved aunt who was also a hoarder, a ballad celebrating the regeneration of Wandle Park in south London, and an ode to the Hammersmith and City Line, read as the underground rumbled under us, beneath the pub.  

One poet, David Morris, introducing his villanelle, joked: “Tammy said, ‘David’s taken liberties with the villanelle form’. I thought, that’s one of the nicest things anyone’s said about me.”    

The front cover of Recapture was designed by one of the poets, artist Victoria Hicks, and the publication was produced by another poet, Karen Littleton, and her husband, David Shaw.  In her foreword to the pamphlet, Tamar Yoseloff says of her class: “Most of them were relatively new to poetry, nervous about sharing their work. But over 30 weeks, they began to develop individual voices and styles, and by June 2014 they felt confident enough to begin to send work out (some of the poets here have already published their poems in magazines and have won prizes), to participate in public readings – to refer to themselves as poets.”

She added: “I have observed this rite of passage for many years now, and it is always with pride and huge admiration. It is a difficult thing to take up any new pursuit, let alone poetry – in its practice, we are all still students. So I know their journey is not over, in fact, they are still meeting as a group, still sharing their ideas about craft and process. I have been privileged to be on this journey with them – it is certainly just the beginning.”

In return, Sandra Galton, organiser of the night, thanked her tutor for “inspiring, encouraging and nurturing our cravings to become little poets … her commitment and dedication to us all is really quite extraordinary”.

All proceeds from sales of Recapture, which costs just £3, go to the Poetry School, which is a registered charity. Email to obtain a copy.

Greg Freeman


See pictures from the reading



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