maenad of little voice

On Friday I participated in the “Maenads of Necessity” reading at Cambridge University with talented poets Vahni Capildeo, Jeremy Hardingham, Dino Mahoney, Hope Doherty, and Paige Smeaton. The reading was a Bacchanalian feast for the eyes and ears. Feathers still float through my memory, and if I approach my recollections at just the right angle I can catch a wayward spritz of paint from the other side of the room. We daisy-chained voice to voice as we recited, sang, and chanted lines of poetry at random. I wrote snippets of poems on leaves. My shyness hid in this little bower, a small forest of words, letters settled on leaf veins like birds on branches. I was a maenad of little voice, barely chirping my words, while the others performed beautifully (Dino! Jeremy!). Maenads wove ribbons around sticks and pine cones Dionysian-style, their self-styled thyrses like wands or walking sticks, lending poems an imperial air; poems recited from the plinth of tree trunks growing from the drama studio floor.

Here’s a snippet from one of the poems I read (Mossery):
I walk the Botanic Gardens where
skeletal stems reminisce in hedgerows.
Moss-felted beds brag lichen’s
winter flowers. This is where we spoke
of transplants years ago; poet expats, émigré’s.
I’ve read Heine’s Poet in Exile and smiled
at our tumbleweed tribe;
language our common wealth, a
new world we build from the ground up,
starting with sphagnum moss.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dino says:

    Vahni's “Maenads of Necessity” was the start of Spring, a magical anarchical celebration of poetry, music, birth, energy and love. It was a delight to play and share poetry in the fanciful and colourful grotto created by Vahni & Jeremy. I loved 'MOSSERY' when you read it and thank you for sharing this wonderful section of it on your blog – a joy meeting you' I'm sure all of us who were at “Maenads of Necessity” will remember its spellbinding charm.


  2. Dino, yes it was! I'm so happy you enjoyed 'Mossery'! I'm enjoying your pictures in Hong Kong – just wonderful. I checked out Drunken Sailor Films – congratulations, what a great backstory & company. (
    I watched 'Bloomsbury Twist' – such a coincidence as I'm on a huge Woolf spree; diaries & letters. Nice pun in the title. By the way, was that a Dino cameo in the bar? XX


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