Poetry and Magic – Festival Day 1

The Gazebo Garden in the East Pallant car park is a tranquil and secluded space to spend time that many people who use Havant all the time don’t know or forget about. It was an excellent setting for some of the performers in the Word on the Street event.

During my visit, I enjoyed listening to Ann Crowe and Judith Worley who encouraged audience participation in some of their recitations of poems on the Festival theme of water, including an extract from Beowulf about a battle with sea monsters, and ending with Henry Newbold’s rousing response to Turner’s painting of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ .

They were followed by a set from members of Write Angle, a writing and performing group from Petersfield, who offered an amusing and entertaining blend of their own poetry and music. Write Angle hold regular ‘open mic’ nights at their home venue at the Square Brewery in Petersfield and poetry cabaret nights, the next one on Tuesday. Find out more on their website. There is another opportunity to see Write Angle at the Poetry and Pints event at the Robin Hood on Thursday 1st October at 7:30pm (free entry, but you’ll have to pay for your beer!).

My next stop was for a look around the book fair at the URC, plenty to choose from both fiction and non fiction and I also relaxed with a cup of tea in the Festival Bistro.

Later on, I attended Philip Carr-Gomm’s fascinating talk on English Magic, based on his newly published book co-written with Richard Heygate. Book info and Philip’s website

Philip outlined the history of how England came to be a centre of magical tradition, drawing on influences from many different parts of the world through. He also spoke about different types of magic and its practioners and how it touches every part of our lives, often when we don’t recognise its presence. For instance, how astrologer and scholar John Dee influenced Elizabeth 1st in matters of state and personal affairs and whether Cherie Blair’s lifestyle advisor Carol Caplin could be regarded as a magic practitioner through her use of holistic healing and health advice.

Certainly, in the past the ‘healing arts’ were looked on as magical and we don’t yet know enough about the brain to know why it responds to the ‘placebo effect’. 

Philip commented on the extent to which we all respond to magic in our surroundings, particularly in the natural world and the wider universe and how this resounded in his own druidic spirituality and practice including the artistic sphere of poetry and music. This was brought to us at the event by bardic harpist John Corin and in the display of pagan inspired art.

I wonder when Prince Charles becomes monarch, who his advisors might include and how they will be perceived by the public and the media?

Later when the event was opened to questions from the floor a spectrum of opinions and attitudes emerged from members of the audience as to what magic is and whether it exists. Philip’s book was sadly beyond my pocket for the moment, but one of my personal experiences of magic is that money, items and even people often come into my life at times when they are really needed, not just desired.

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