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The Jabberwocky Green Book

November 14, 2019

It was a black night of rain with kerbside gutters running like rivers, ponding in places, and leaping sheets of spray as I followed the SatNav with Maureen at my side and our good friend Helen in the back.

It was 7th November 2019 and we were on our way down the Wirral to Lingham’s Booksellers, Heswall, for a very special ‘First Thursday’ event, the launch of the Jabberwocky Green Book, which we each had a poem in.

Publication of the Green Book by ‘First Thursday’ marked the 50th anniversary of the Jabberwocky Poetry Society, whose inaugural meeting was held at Burton Gallery, Wirral, in November 1969.

Moving venue several times around the Wirral, Jabberwocky (named after Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem in Through The Looking Glass) provided a platform for local poets to read their own work with musical interludes giving a break.  Guest poets included such luminaries as Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Stephen Spender and Thom Gunn, to name but a few.

Jabberwocky closed in 1987 owing to falling attendance, but in 2002 John Curry, Peggy Pool and Chas Raws started a poetry group along similar lines called ‘First Thursday’ at Lingham’s Booksellers, with meetings on the first Thursday of every month except August.

Jabberwocky, in its day, brought out four small volumes of poetry by local poets – a Black Book, Orange Book, Purple Book and Blue Book, each with a cartoon illustration of the mythical Jabberwock on its front cover.  Now we have the Green Book with that same Jabberwock on its cover.

And being green, of course, the book is environmentally themed, highlighting the issues imperilling life on our planet – global warming, plastic waste, habitat-loss and so on.

With John Curry, Alan Gaunt and Kemal Houghton presenting, it was a most enjoyable evening at Lingham’s with a packed audience despite the weather.  Musical interludes were provided by The Waite Collective singing madrigals.  ‘Picture of the Month’ was by artist Chris Youngman, who created wonderful posters for Jabberwocky.  Poems from the Black, Orange, Purple and Blue Books were read, some by the original poets themselves.  Then a few invited poets read their poems from the Green Book.  My darling partner Maureen Weldon was amongst them – and gosh, how well her poem ‘The Bay’ went down.  Such applause!  I was so proud of her.

Finally the Green Book prize was awarded to Mary Hodgson for her brilliant poem ‘Jabberwocky 2019’ in which, expanding on Lewis Carroll’s whimsical vocabulary, she exhorts us to take up our “Vorpal Blade” and “fight to save all Nature’s worth.”  Needless to say, her reading brought the house down.

***

Huge thanks to John Curry, Alan Gaunt and Kemal Houghton for an unforgettable evening, and of course to Diana Hendry, without whom there would have been no Jabberwocky Poetry Society in the first place.

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Maureen Weldon permalink

    Thank you Paul my wonderful Partner, for your most excellent account of the launch of ” The Jabberwocky Green Book. ” A celebration of Fifty Years of Jabberwocky, of poetry, art and music, now known as First Thursday, held monthly at Linghams Bookshop Heswall. So lovely to have been a part of this celebration and with our poems included in this special Green Book.

    With much love,
    from,

    Maureen x

    • Thank you, my darling Maureen.

      Like you, I’m delighted to have a poem in the “Green Book” with it being a 50th anniversary Jabberwocky special. Also – and very much so – because the book is ecologically-themed, highlighting issues of vital importance today, with urgent measures required if our beautiful planet, shared with myriad other lifeforms, is to be left in a fit and healthy state for future generations to enjoy.

      Yes, a cracking little book it is (in its 1st reprint already), and we must buy more copies to give as Christmas presents!

      Much love always,

      Paul xxx

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