Poetry meets art on the cultural trail

Kentish Pip Wild Summer Sparkling Elderflower Cider
Poet Jacquie Wyatt

On Thursday October 24, a wide range of shops will be featuring poems by local writers to simultaneously celebrate National Poetry Month and the town’s independent retailers.

A selection of literary offerings will be on display fom The Fairy Godmothers dress shop at the top of the High Street to Flowers by Enchantment near the railway station.

There will also be offerings along Castle Street, the Pavilion arcade and Angel Walk and one at the Memorial Garden – the first non-retail venue.

The trail is the brainchild of Jacquie Wyatt, a member of the town’s poetry group called Roundel, and was staged for the first time a year ago.

She told the Times: “My inspiration was one run by Sarah Salway in The Pantiles in 2017. I thought Tonbridge might have as many independent retailers.

“I’m delighted that we have 24 taking part again, as we did last year. And there are 24 poems by 23 poets – one is so good I’ve featured him twice.”

Roundel was founded by Margaret Beston in 2012 after the Tonbridge Arts Festival – a ‘roundel’ is a poetic form, but the word also has Kentish connotations with oast house roofs.

“Poetry’s big in Tonbridge since Margaret set it up,” said Ms Wyatt. “It’s such a thriving group with 16 regular members and meetings twice a month plus regular performances.

“They have proved popular, which was a bit of a surprise as we expected four and someone’s spaniel. If anyone has a spaniel please bring him along as the dog attendance has been disappointing.”

A week later, on Friday November 1, many of the authors will be reading their poems in the Upper Room of St Peter and St Paul’s parish church from 6.30pm.

And Roundel will also be taking part in the annual art exhibition by 4Art Group in the Castle’s Council Chamber, which runs from October 19-24.

4Art held a hugely successful exhibition at their iconic venue Duncan’s Place, otherwise known as R Allen’s garage in Lyons Crescent, in March shortly before it was demolished.

The four artists, Sue Vass, Marilyn Garwood, Jill Goldsworthy and Margaret Barrett, celebrated the work of Duncan Welch and his family, who ran the workshops since 1938, amid the paraphenalia accumulated over seven decades.

Roundel will be reading from their booklet of poems inspired by Duncan’s Place at the Castle on Sunday October 20 at 2.30pm.

There will be paintings, drawings and sculpture in what Mrs Goldsworthy describes as ‘a colourful display of work reflecting a contemporary view on life and each artist’s surroundings’.

“It is always a quirky mix reflecting how life affects us,” she added. “Some of the work is very personal, some reflecting current issues in the world.”

The exhibition is free and runs from 10am-4pm each day (10.30am start on Sunday). One of the artists will be present at all times to discuss the work on show.

Maps for the poetry trail are available at Google Maps as Tonbridge Poetry Trail 2019 or there will be hard copies available at the venues.

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