On Tuesday 12 May, people met in an upstairs room at the Carpenters Arms for 2015’s first Poems and Pints evening. Everyone gathered in a friendly circle and made the new-comers welcome. There was the comforting sensation of being surrounded by well-loved books, assembled in neat stacks alongside the drinks – more wine glasses than pints it has to be said.

People took turns to read and more than once Gerald Davies gently encouraged us to read whatever we wanted, not to feel restricted to poetry. The purpose of the evening was entertainment, this wasn’t a dry academic seminar… Leading by example he gave us this letter to the Guardian:

Sir,

Now that former Ikea boss Mikael Ohlsson is joining Tesco, does this mean I will have to assemble my ready meals myself, using wordless diagrams, only to find out that two potatoes are missing?

Mike Parfitt

London

And a for balance, a letter to the Times, which seemed appropriate in the week after a General Election – though this is probably not one for the easily offended:

Sir,

If the taxi driver quoted in John Crace’s sketch is correct that Rochester is “the arsehole of Kent”, what does this make the politicians passing through?

Edward Rees QC

Doughty Street Chambers,

London

We heard readings from well-thumbed anthologies, passages from dog-eared and cracked-spine novels, carefully chosen newspaper cuttings and a few treasured, handwritten items, one of which featured Coed-y-Paen itself.

Words washed over us, there was no need for discussion or explanation and from the nodding heads and smiling faces it was clear the words had worked their magic. This was entertainment, not a dry academic seminar, and there were times when the people eating in the pub must have wondered what was causing so much laughter in the rooms above.

 

Highlights included a passage from Under Milk Wood read in a rich welsh voice which couldn’t have been more perfectly suited to the task:

Alone until she dies, Bessie Bighead, hired help, born in

the workhouse, smelling of the cowshed, snores bass and

gruff on a couch of straw in a loft in Salt Lake Farm and

picks a posy of daisies in Sunday Meadow to put on the grave

of Gomer Owen who kissed her once by the pig-sty when she

wasn’t looking and never kissed her again although she was

looking all the time.

 

The evening finished with a reading of The Hand That Signed the Paper, another poem by Dylan Thomas,?more sombre but entirely fitting nonetheless:

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;

Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,

Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;

These five kings did a king to death.

Thank you to Matt at the Carpenters for generously providing us with the room, it was a perfect venue and we are very grateful for his hospitality.

Gerald Davies deserves credit for the way in which he managed the gathering so deftly and for filling any occasional silences with passages he’s collected over the years

Finally, thank you to everyone who took the time to come along, particularly those who offered a contribution. We hope to see you next time.

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