Jen Overett p.1

Jen Overett

Circle Line


Bard of The North

I’ve attended Poetry Aloud for about ten years now, mainly because I love poetry and enjoy hearing it read aloud, and also because I value spending time with others who share that passion. I like how the group is welcoming and non-judgemental with a good mix of local people – whether published and recognised poets, writers just starting out or who come along to listen, plus many (like myself) who mainly write poems to work something out about life or sometimes just for the joy of it. I’ve learnt a lot from other group members and have made some good friends along the way. Poets I am reading at the moment include Jillian Weise, Will Harris, Rebecca Tamas, Ocean Vuong and Ruth Stone.

Circle Line

Same smell and sounds since 1979
Across the empty track I half expect
To see you there, or someone else
From that far distant time;
Recall our rise from darkness into shimmering rain,
A sweetest open-day of Heaven's making,
Your soft lips, and the loss already starting.
Words cannot bring you back again.
Returning to the landscape I know best;
The pear tree's clear outline,
My child's cheek, where she sleeps,
Each eyelash individual, poised, resting.
We are made of these moments
And their beautiful fading.

Copyright © 2010 Jen Overett
Circle Line read by Jen Overett

As on all summer Sundays
I wore a pale cotton frock
Iron-crisp as rice paper,
Pink knees ready scabbed
Above white ankle socks,
Cheeks red and hot from knowing nothing,
Curlered hair like a mop.

This was my older cousin's day.
Once a gangly loner of a boy
(A couple of sweet girls had never lasted long),
Now a tall, thoughtful young man.
We'd left the church like a marriage party
And, if he had other pleasures,
Today they were not by his side.

Playing in a corner with the soft anguish of being alive,
I watched his mother (who knew most the absence of a bride
The pride she felt would have to do),
My handsome, widowed aunt,
Cake fancies on a plate in one hand,
Lift her eyes above the celebrations,
The room stand still for a moment.

Her son and his serious, complicated choice,
Her silent cry amongst the chatter "Where has it all gone?"
Before the scene resumed its muffled social form.
I grasped then a lesson from the world's dark to and fro,
How each adult bears it, how I too would learn
To lift, with time, my own sorrow,
And add it to the flow.

Copyright © 2011 Jen Overett
Ordination read by Jen Overett
Bard of the North

Black skyline, castle keeps, and brooding towers,
Marked well by the dog-leap or two
Between familiar corners of city bars.
The glittering night lies in the bottom of your glass
And in the next perhaps, the muse,
Who knows how deep you have to leave a place to find it,

That bitter, secret pearl.
For then your kittiwakes will truly fly,
Wings tipped with Geordie beauty,
And all the thirsty tarts, and men in pinstripe suits,
The laughing boys in that echoing playground,
All of us, shall know it.

Eight or ten pints down,
You're spitting out poetry so hard
You're nearly on your knees.
No more leaping for tonight,
Just a wistful wander home,
Rich sonnets singing in your mutterings.

On this wild and lonely path,
May your heartbeat match the Tyne's wise pace,
Its gentle, winding ways your home;
Your cold bed bring warm welcome,
Like this dark city that holds you in its palm
As you, in turn, have held it in your own.

– 'Dog-leap' is a reference to Dog Leap Stairs; 
a steep flight of steps rising up from the 
Tyne Quayside in Newcastle to the Old Castle Keep, 
regularly used on pub crawls.

– Kittiwake: a small breed of seagull which nests 
by the Tyne Bridge.

Copyright © 2010 Jen Overett
Bard of the North read by Jen Overett

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