Last night’s event celebrating Gill Stoker’s Poems and Pictures blog was an extraordinary, beautiful mix of words and images that reached all over the world. Very many thanks to everyone who came, to Alison and Marc of Arts Destination South Molton for their flawless organisation and to Gill herself for her magnificent blog on the website of the Mary Evans Picture Library, a Tardis of all kinds of pictures in Blackheath, south east London.
The idea for the blog came from Gill and Greenwich’s Nevada Street Poets, with the first entry on National Poetry Day, October 2015. The blog has 130 contributors so far, some of us appearing several times.
Today’s online events swap the pleasure of chatting in person with allowing many more of us to get together no matter where we are, and over 90 of us honoured Gill and the library last night. People came not only from the UK and Ireland but from France, chilly Spain, Italy, Belgium, Canada, the USA and the Caucasus.
The poetry was enormously varied, from barometers to crossing the Styx, and came from Jill Sharp, Jane Clarke, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Janet Sutherland, Martyn Crucefix, Alison Hill, Richard Westcott and his daughter Sarah Westcott, Robin Houghton, Vivien and John Freeman, Derek Sellen and Chris Hardy. What a fabulous list – if you scroll through the blog’s left-side list, you’ll enjoy their words. My contribution – Oyster 17s – came from the north coast of Kent in England and sunnier, healthier times. It celebrates Whitstable’s tradition of seafood, whether it’s getting together with friends in restaurants or having platefuls of fresh oysters with wine on the beach while we watch the sun sink into a golden sea. Those days will come again.