Fire and Dust Poetry Evening

Proper Coffee House 2

Nigel Hutchinson has been writing poetry in response to the Journeys with “The Waste Land” exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.  He shares some of his work with us here, but you may find him at Fargo Village in Coventry tonight Thursday 1st November in The Big Comfy Bookshop:

Fire and Dust Open Mic

Thu 1 Nov, 7.30pm

The Big Comfy Bookshop, Fargo Village, Coventry

In this open mic evening, professional and aspiring poets are encouraged to read work relating to T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”.
Free. For further information, go to:

An independent related event inspired by Journeys with “The Waste Land”, an exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, 15 September – 18 November 2018.


. in the arms of a Tahitian woman out of Gauguin,

who’s the bearded figure in bed, like some ancient of days

measuring or sheering a fleece, stone head at his feet with

a look of confusion on its face, some toppled statue

fallen like the red-coated soldiers, prone or dead,

forlorn figure despondent beneath a blasted tree,

others like chimneys, leaves of smoke,

sole sheep sheltering beneath a stunted tree, no flock to follow,

one palm – some oasis in this post apocalypse;

Birkenau above a turquoise pool, beside a chrome yellow

sulphurous hill and leaching sky,

they’re all alone, lost in thought or, simply lost,

crawling soldier dreams of reaching the top of the brow,

to gaze over an unexpected beach, the coast of somewhere,

sea from elsewhere shackled to the moon’s imperative,

colour is bleaching sand slipping to the seabed,

sand that washes beneath waves all the way to France,

the continental edge,

time slides not with clocks but with tides and ebb, time and space

measured by breakwaters attempting to defy the flux of hours;

concrete defences, sea walls, hunkered down against a shining ocean,

sky grey as our grasp of the future, our clouded vision,

is this what brought us here, concreting the island’s edges

to keep them out?

Low cloud hangs – and the fear that out of it will come that droning again,

or a ghost of a bird heavier than air blundering overhead,

soldiers have gone, beach is deserted, no faith in sand castles anymore,

imagine a bucket-&-spaded child, the first onto the beach,

construction and disaster in its eyes.

after R.B KITAJ ‘If Not, Not’ and PAUL NASH ‘The Shore’



This twisted wreck tarred, oil-slicked

to some unknown runway,

desperate to rise and glide

it staggers, flesh,

meat such fragile stuff

stripped away, carne, carnage,

drags itself forward, a death-throw bomber,

undercarriage legs crippled,

fluid flight turned to shattered sheets of metal,

a different skin, the end of feathered flight,

plumage, plunge, plummet

after ‘Bird’ Elizabeth Frink



Even if you don’t know the opera, or Celtic myth

Trystan and Essyllt and their oh so close alter egos

Tristan and Isolde are still all at sea,

the captain maybe wondering how many marriages

weather storms, how many go through rocky patches,

hit the rocks, run aground, ignore siren voices

overwhelmed by ego and hormones,

the tide of things sweeping them out of their depth,

leaving them adrift without oars or sail;

if arias are explanations or therapy

and the chorus drowned out by crashing waves,

the simple impetus of myths set in train,

who can stand on the shore and light signal fires,

shout loud enough to turn back

tides of unfolding events;

is that the thing about tragedy,

needing to prepare ourselves

for moments when the mast breaks,

we’re left rudderless and uncertain,

buying ourselves time before decisions hit us

in our faces like rakes we might accidentally step on?

after David Jones ‘Trystan and Esyllt’

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