Heading the bill at Chichester’s Open Mic Poetry at New Park on Wednesday, February 27, is prize-winning Sussex poet Janet Sutherland, who won first prize in a recent Kent and Sussex poetry competition.
She’ll be treating audiences to poems from her latest collection, Home Farm, which has just been published by Shearsman books. In her fourth collection Janet explores the farm where she grew up, a 90-acre dairy farm in Wiltshire, rented by her parents, where they milked 50 cows and reared heifers on the nearby water meadows.
Open Mic spokesman Barry Smith said: “The collection examines the farm as home from early beginnings to the farm auction at the end of their working lives. It is a poetry of landscape and water, of birds, beasts and other creatures, of life lived cheek by jowl with death, of memory and forgetfulness; all of it rooted in place.
“There’s an engaging inventiveness of form: a disused water mill reveals poems in its old bricks, the drowner revels in his craft, the work of the farm is observed with rigour and lyricism, investigating the uses of memory and landscape as routes to understanding. The final sections zoom outwards, challenging us to look at earth itself as a home farm.
Janet was born in Salisbury.
“After a childhood on a small dairy farm she studied English at University College, Cardiff before moving on to gain an MA in American poetry at the University of Essex. From 1980 she lived in London and spent 20 years working in local government for the voluntary sector and as an adult education woodwork tutor. She has also worked in factories and on farms. As well as pursuing her writing, she works part time for Relate in Brighton as an administrator.
Barry added: “We’re delighted to feature Janet’s poetry for our Chichester audiences. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies including The Virago Book of Love Poetry and The New British Poetry 1968-88. She has published three full collections with Shearsman.
“There will be a chance for local poets to share the spotlight with Janet in the open mic section of the evening.
“Visiting poets are always impressed by the energy, commitment and sheer quality of the poems read by our local writers. It’s a chance for people to get their message across, whatever the subject or style of their poetry. Listeners are equally welcome.”
Open Mic Poetry, Wednesday, February 27, 7.30pm, Jubilee Hall, New Park Centre, Chichester. Entrance £4 on the door. www.chichesterpoetry.simplesite.com (07813 244731).