CB1 Poetry: Helen Mort

Tue 24th April 2012

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Marion Pragt

at 03:48 on 25th Apr 2012

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“Absence did not make the heart grow fonder / Absence made the heart”, mused Sheffield born poet Helen Mort on the monthly poetry night organised by CB1 Poetry in The Punter.

The location’s cosy atmosphere, in which elderly gentlemen chatted with young ladies in between of readings and where lots of tea and liquor were consumed, made for an excellent environment. Armed with small notebooks, papers and pencils, which seemed quite appropriate on National Stationary Day, a diverse audience turned up to hear Helen Mort, who was included in the Guardian’s 2008 list of young poets to watch and will soon publish a new collection of writings.

Through her clear voice and calm presentation, Mort let her poems speak for themselves, which worked especially well with the shorter pieces she recited. One of the more light-hearted poems was about the many animals, not always of the adorable sort, that are named after celebrities, featuring a spider called Harrison Ford and a Greta Garbo wasp. Others dealt with the miners’ strike and Mort’s “feeling out of tune” during her time as a Cambridge student, thus providing a range of themes and moods.

Mort’s recitations were alternated with open mic readings from several audience members. These turned out to be diverse works of a mixed quality, some of them accumulating clichés, others were delivered not particularly well. Yet in a way that did not really seem to matter. At the end of the night one found oneself, perhaps surprisingly so, in a poetry mood. Away from revision, in a nice and unpretentious atmosphere where the genuine enjoyment of all participants and listeners was felt, CB1 Poetry proved to be a pleasant night out.

Walking home through dark and nightly Cambridge, I found many of the poets’ sentences and voices echoing in my head. Absence from and the renewed encounter with poetry’s pronounced words and phrases – rather than their silent appearance on a page or screen – made the heart indeed.

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