Two launches in a fortnight and I'm ready for a ship next time.
First of all there was issue 21 of 'Red Poets' magazine at a packed Imperial Hotel in Merthyr.
Why is it that pub names always seem to contradict our cause? Yet the landlords there, Jose and Marlies , have been so good to us over the years.
Will we ever reach issue 30, I wonder? Or will we all be gibbering wrecks by then?
( Some would say we already are!)
Red Poets loses people along the way, such as Labi Siffri of hits fame and 'Giro City' Jazz.
However, some return to the fold and that's the case with Al Jones, back with a poem 'In Dreams', which inevitably introduces his beloved Zen.
Al has plans for short films.....well, more than plans , as he's already started a few of them. Hopefully they'll be premiered at one of our events next year.
Not documentaries mind...think Andy Warhol comes to the Valleys , attends a Red Poets gig and has a sudden vision of enlightenment!
The cover and back of the latest issue are images from paintings by the exceedingly talented Gus Payne (see above) : polar bears balanced on bee-hives while the world drowns around them.
Contrary to rumours we do allow north Walians into the mag and it's great to feature two excellent poems by Ness Owen and Glyn Edwards.
One of the themes is republicanism and it's dealt with humourously by both Alan Perry and Sian Roberts.
Alan satirizes the literary establishment who attended Buckers for a jolly ( 60th anniversary of the coronation), while Sian picks up on Sue Townshend's 'The Queen and I' and imagines how Mrs Windsor would cope with everyday living in Pontlottyn.
There were many memorable performances on the night from the likes of Julie Pritchard, John Williams and Phil Knight, but it was fitting that Sion Owen should end the readings with his forceful verse manifesto 'Treiglad/ Mutation'.
Jamie Bevan and Barry Taylor provided some rousing singalongs with the likes of 'No Lentils in Cawl' and 'Dance on your grave, Mrs Thatcher'.
One time heckler-in-chief Andrew Bartz brought out his trusty notebook and truly delivered. Hopefully he'll make his first appearance next year.
Next up we're at the Capel in Bargoed on November 2nd . If you live anywhere near then come along ,listen and buy a copy.....it'll be the best £5 you've spent since those 2 bottles of Celt 'Golden Age'.
Last Wednesday I had the honour of sharing a stage ( well, a bookshop floor) with long-time Red Poet Mike Church, namely The Hours in Brecon.
Mike was launching his first ever poetry book for adults 'free running with words'.
No juggling with eggs or swords , merely with words , as his lines leapt across the rooftops, funny and free.
Mike isn't afraid of a couplet, nor is he afraid to let his imagination carry him in unexpected directions.
Surreal humour is ever-present, as in 'A load of Pollocks' -
' The toblerone in the gumshield
Becomes pulp fiction
On the football field
Roaring like a tidal wave'
Mike can also be cuttingly direct as well and 'Play with guitars not guns' is an ode to pacificism, relishing the sound of words -
' Sink the macho menace
In a sea of scented candles'
There are superb performance poems best read out loud (sometimes very loud!) like 'Addicted', but Mike Church does have a pensive side to his work, especially in 'Reverie' and 'Dearly Departed'.
He is one of the top performers around today and the John Tripp Award should be revived to give the likes of him and Phil Knight another chance.
He's a Luton Town fan who has lived in Cymru for many years; in fact, his children were born and brought up here.
He wants to be seen as a Welshman and why not? Anyone who can do such a perfect impersonation of Dan Biggar about to take a conversion deserves that.
( p.s. Deepest apologies to Owen Gallagher, whose poem was mysteriously left out.....it'll be in next year.)
This poem records part of Red Poets' folklore.....
MEGAPHONE POEMS IN HAY-ON-WYE
We invaded Hay-on-Wye
armed only with a megaphone.
It was the day
of President Clinton's visit
to lecture on 'Conflict Resolution'.
Selective bombing was the option
and the Monica Lewinsky scandal
the talk of papers and television
before Facebook had taken off
into space like a vast rocket
containing the whole world.
Tim Richards berated the literati
to get down on their knees in homage,
then, from the green slope
of Hay Castle overlooking the cafe
Jazz blasted out 'Giro City' ;
I timed my ode to Victor Jara
for the arrival of his helicopter.
Our ammunition printed on paper,
dark-shaded, cliched secret servicemen
followed us into a chip shop
and , without ordering, out again.
Nobody had invited us,
or paid us in flowers or wine,
the day we invaded Hay-on -Wye.