Poets from across UK descend on Havant for literary festival

  • Organiser would like to see more local support
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THE beauty of the spoken word was explored as poetry came to the fore at a literary festival.

Poets from around the country travelled to Havant for its annual celebration of words and literature.

The festival is normally a 10-day extravaganza, but organisers decided to have a break this year and serve up a day-long feast of poetry.

Four events took place, including poetry readings at Havant Meeting Place, in Elm Lane.

The attendees had won or been commended in the poetry competition, which attracted around 150 entries from across the UK.

Winning this year was David Attwooll, 66, from Oxford.

Martin Critchley from Martin Critchley Architects presents David Attwooll with first prize at ''Havant Literary Festival's Poetry Prize Picture: Allan Hutchings (151514-132)

Martin Critchley from Martin Critchley Architects presents David Attwooll with first prize at ''Havant Literary Festival's Poetry Prize Picture: Allan Hutchings (151514-132)

He wrote a poem called Greengrocer’s Apostrophe.

He told The News: ‘I heard about the competition from a friend of mine. I thought it sounded like an appealing literary festival when I read about it.

‘I loved the idea here of posting the poems in the street. I like the idea of it being made available on lamp posts.’

David, whose favourite word is ‘rough’, said: ‘I enjoy playing with words.

‘People can be very pretentious about poems.

‘It’s a bit like a potter. You make a jug that stands up and pours.

‘Words are the same. If you just preach to people, you might as well write prose. When a poem works, you feel it can’t be done in any other shape.’

Louise Ordish, 52, from Reading, was commended in the competition.

The marketing consultant read out her poem The Art of Mending Fences.

‘Poetry allows me to uncover things in situations,’ said Louise, whose favourite word is ‘bluster’.

‘I think people should do whatever allows them to use their creativity. Everybody has something whether it’s poetry, art, writing or singing.’

In the evening people took a stroll round Havant and read 10 poems that had been stuck in various places.

Organiser Tim Dawes said people had come from as far as Yorkshire to attend the day, but he said he would like to see more support from people in the Havant area.

The festival started eight years ago.

‘If you go to any festival in the country this is as good a quality as it gets,’ said Tim, whose favourite word is ‘carapace’.

Tim is hoping to take a back seat next year and would like a new person to take the reins.

‘We are looking for someone to organise it,’ he said.

‘I would be prepared to help somebody to do it without interfering.’


Greengrocer’s apostrophe by David Attwooll

It was a morning like this

they came for you, those Border

Force creeps. You’d slipped out the back –

just saw a blur of your blue

sleeve, a flick of pony tail.

Know what I think?

If those b***ards hadn’t come

you’d have been a keeper

From the moment you pulled on

the overall, arm in a dancer’s curve:

reminded me of wrapping Christmas

satsumas in blue tissue paper.

The way your accent skipped

syllables, like hiccups or giggles,

when you turned from the till –

those delicate gestures.

Not being funny, but you

left me standing in a scatter

of onion skins, cold catch of draught

on the back of my neck, wondering.