Josie Moon

Poet, Musician and Educator

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A Review of Poems from the Swamp

With grateful thanks to Rob Etty and the team at The High Window, an excellent online poetry magazine:  https://thehighwindowpress.com/

In the intriguing Preface to her pamphlet (which is, appropriately, green, with semi-translucent endpapers) Josie Moon writes: The swamp is never wholly negative but is a useful metaphor for experience, some hidden, some mundane, some to be discovered … Certainly it is dangerous, certainly it can be unpleasant, but it is a place of great psychological imperative and creative impetus. … It is a place of origin.

The pamphlet is itself a place of origin. It is a poetic foretaste of a novel set in Grimsby, the author’s hometown, and the poems are voiced by four mystical and prophetic characters. These poets know there is a higher state of existence beyond the town’s dereliction, and are seeking justice and redemption for the swamp’s forgotten people, to whom the poems are dedicated.

The authors and titles are listed in the Contents. In the voice of artist, poet and editor George Lydda, whose Eliotesque ‘The Rising’ is the second poem, Josie Moon impressively creates the tension which underlies the sequence’s movement:

Hum, hum, shhh, shhh, listen, listen.
There is rain out there, still far away
but pattering off sea and estuary 
bringing wet stings for morning.
There is ice in night’s kiss riming the street,
the sleeping street.

Deep, deep beneath the street, far away and fast asleep
dreaming begins as shadows gather on the corner
where the police station squats.

The next poem, ‘Carnival’, crosses from authentic Grimsby into fantasy. It reminds us that we are listening to successive voices, and is an early demonstration of the author’s versatility. Alisha Autrey’s aabb quatrains introduce the use of the first person, as the speaker reacts to a mysterious car driver who claims to be from 1949:

He points a long, green bony finger:
My dear, I really mustn’t linger.
The tune he hums is menacing, dark,
more the raven, less the lark.

I abandon thoughts of staying near,
turn to you and see no fear.
I say The Lord of Misrule is here.
You smile and simply disappear.

As the Preface reveals, the ideas for the sequence swam from the cracks in the pavements in the East and West Marsh areas of Grimsby, whose origins are in their names, and the sinewy phrasing, driving rhythms and intermittent rhymes of ‘The Gauleiter and His Pig’ maintain the reader’s unease about what lurks below:

The Gauleiter and his pig reside here
in the swamp, a septic, infected sty,
poisoned with wormwood for false prophecy.

The sty turns seamier, with deepening stench,
while mists from the quagmire writhe and hiss,
meander in serpentine gyres and twists,
layering the space where once light fell
with impenetrable shadows from boundless Hell.

And so we are guided through, enjoying shifts in form, tone, person, and a breadth of language that heightens descriptions and narratives. The closing poem, ‘Ursa Major’, in the serene unrhymed triplets of George Lydda, expresses a resolution. The lyrical final stanzas, especially, lodge in the memory.

No doubt in the forthcoming novel battle will play out across many more pages, but a cosmic spiritual conflict with mythological and Biblical references rumbles through these twelve poems: alongside broken lives lived among shopping trolleys, abandoned sofas and branded houses that sag exhausted against each other, we encounter an unseen hand that pushes a fool, a pirouetting jester and a blue-faced king, a lost lioness, Santa Maria and the Witch of the West Marsh. Josie Moon shows herself to be a wide-ranging, inventive, musical poet, and her live performances will lift the words vividly off the page.

Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His latest collection is Passing the Story Down the Line, published by Shoestring Press in 2017. He is a member of Nunsthorpe Poetry Group, which meets in Cleethorpes.

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Winter Comes

Like the autumn, the winter arrived more or less overnight. We felt it blow in off the North Sea and felt the chill settle on us.  The autumn light has been very beautiful and our winter sky here on the east coast never fails to lift the spirit, even as darkness intensifies.

A highlight of the winter so far was the jazz and poetry gig with Dave Green and Pat McCarthy, just a couple of short weeks ago – time really has flown.  Pat and I are doing a lot of work on our set and it’s coming together with great fluency and playing well with audiences.

The Concert for Commemoration was a night to remember as well, with the choir really giving their all and with beautiful accompaniment from all of the musicians. It was a special night, long to be remembered.

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It has once again been a time of change, with much of the past now settled and in its place and the future looking exciting and full of challenges.  With Pat and the La Luna team we are preparing for a busy spring in NE Lincs schools. Most exciting though is the forthcoming jazz and poetry Requiem, a collaboration between me, Pat and Alan Barnes with the support of Arts Council England and overseen by Gill Wilde.  There will be more to report on that shortly.

It’s been a tense time but the ships have all come safely into port and I am immensely grateful for all the kindness and support I have received and for the affirmation of my work, which continues to be a source of joy to me.

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A Concert For Commemoration

Earlier this summer, La Luna secured a substantial Arts Council grant for the provision of a number of poetry and music projects for North East Lincolnshire.  The Poetry Cafe is up and running under the leadership of poet and teacher Carolyn Doyley and the Emerging Voices project is now well underway with young writers engaged in a year-long project. Look out for their first event in December.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of the project was the commissioning of brand new music for the Great Grimsby Community Choir.  The choir is constantly evolving and developing. It has great creative energy and enthusiasm and it was the choir’s willingness to try new things and be challenged that resulted in this project being possible.

The new music, which has been co-written with Pat McCarthy, Joanne Townell and myself is in rehearsal and will be performed at Grimsby Minster on November 17th.  The music commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War and we hope it is a moving tribute to everyone who lost their lives in that terrible conflict.

Tickets for the concert are £8 full price, £6 students and unwaged. Accompanied children under 16 are welcome to attend free.  Refreshments are available at the interval.  Tickets can be purchased directly from me via email to info@josiemoon.co.uk  or from Cleethorpes Tourist Information office or the Grimsby Minster Coffee Shop.  Doors open at 7.00 pm for a 7.30 start.

 

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Holding Breath

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and that point in the year of transition to the increasing dark.  This morning the air was grey and thick and I felt strangely sad.  I am currently waiting on decisions and changes that will shape the coming year and am experiencing a weird suspended animation that I hope resolves as autumn unfolds in all its golden glory.

The great joy of this summer has been the garden and my re-engagement with growing.  For two years I found it impossible to find any pleasure in gardening and I did wonder if it was something consigned to the pot of losses. How glad am I that I was wrong and that this year I have created a riotous, rambunctious urban garden, bustling and bursting with colour and joy. What was a very old and tired space has been reinvigorated and will continue to grow and develop as I am inspired.

There is nothing like the consolation of soil, the sheer pleasure of that communion with the earth that yields the rewards of food and flowers. Tending my flowers and herbs – vegetables and fruit next year – I have found deep peace and time has slipped away without care.

 

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National Poetry Day with Ralph Dartford

 Ralph Dartford – Recovery Songs

The Albert Room, Cleethorpes Library, 4th October, 7.30 pm.

Tickets £5 from Cleethorpes Library. 01472 323650

Advance Booking highly recommended.

This powerful show examines the personal journey through recovery and is an honest, painful and uplifting examination of the process. Recovery Songs Cropped Image

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Summer’s End

It feels as if autumn is here. From that misty smell in the air to the webs hanging between shed, wall, bench and plant pot to the earlier dusk and later sunrise, the year has turned. What a summer it has been, with intense heat here in the east and days that seemed luxurious while they lasted.  My garden has been a source of constant delight and distraction, evolving and changing over the months. It’s beginning to look a little weary and it is time for bulbs and autumn planting to take over from the summer blooms.

This can be a melancholy time, looking back over the adventures of the summer. I think of the lovely Verdi Cries by 10,000 Maniacs (give it a listen here if you don’t know it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1dQRgtUxu0 ) and the tender, sad words evoking a summer holiday and its end as well as something deeper and ineffable.

My summer has included some get-away time to beautiful places where the environments have been restorative and full of peace and wonder; from gardens full of statuary and majestic trees to canal walks and the signs of autumn in the hedgerows.

As the autumn settles in I am thinking about new work, poems, songs, gigs, partnerships and productions, much of which is underway. I am glad to have had such a fine summer in so many ways and glad to have been able to walk in the sunlit uplands with my best human.

Best Humans

Together in Grant Thorold Park for the East Marsh Community Day

 

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McCarthy and Moon Autumn Tour

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We are pleased to announce our Autumn Tour for 2018 with a series of dates in North East Lincolnshire.

Friday 14th September 

7.30 pm at The Globe in Cleethorpes.  This lovely new coffee and book shop is an intimate venue with very welcoming hosts.  Entry is free. Signed copies of Poems from the Swamp will be available to purchase At £7.50

Poems from the Swamp Josie Moon

Poems from the Swamp

Saturday 29th September

7.30 pm, The Steel Rooms, Brigg

£5.00

Myths of  Birds and Water: An evening of Poetry and Jazz featuring a spoken word performance from Steve Meek.

The theme of the evening is birds and water and the myths that surround both.

Saturday 27th October 

7.30 pm, The Steel Rooms, Brigg

£5.00

An evening of Poetry and Jazz featuring a spoken word performance from Steve Meek. With special guests David Power and Ken Marley.

Thursday 1st November 

7.30 pm, The Albert Room Cleethorpes Library

£5.00 – Tickets available from Cleethorpes Library.

An evening of Poetry and Music featuring very special guest, internationally renowned bass player, Dave Green.

Dave Green

Internationally renowned bass player, Dave Green

 

 

 

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Words and Pictures Autumn Season 2018

Words and Pictures Logo

Here is the link to our Autumn Brochure listing all our events for Autumn 2018.  The programme is packed full of poetry, workshops, fine art. talks and music and is the result of a collaboration between La Luna, Lincs Inspire, Riverhead Coffee and others.  There are paper copies available of the brochure and these can be found in libraries and other public spaces locally.

WP-Programme-2018-web 

 

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Christmas Songs in August

Best Words Logo

The Best Words project is now well underway and the Words and Pictures autumn season brochure is almost ready to be released.  It’s packed full of poets and events programmed for several venues across the region.  The web version will be posted here on the website shortly.  Here’s a quick overview of what is happening:

Emerging Voices

One strand of best words is the Emerging Voices writing project for young writers aged 18-25.  We have established our group and their autumn schedule is already looking busy with a series of workshops and events including visits from poets working on the national scene.  Their first meeting was inspiring for all of us and we’re looking forward to a fine body of new work from them.

Poetry Cafe

Poet and teacher Carolyn Doyley takes the helm of the Poetry Cafe in September when it reconvenes on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Riverhead Coffee.  There will be a mixture of workshops, read-arounds and poetry suppers through the autumn with some very special guests.

Carolyn Doyley

Carolyn takes the helm of the Poetry Cafe

Great Grimsby Community Choir

Pat McCarthy and I have been writing music over the hottest summer I can remember – thankfully it’s cool and rainy today – music for centenary of the end of the First World War, and music for Christmas.  It’s not easy to envisage the frozen landscape of midwinter, the short days and darkness when you feel like a basking lizard but we’ve done our best and Great Grimsby Community Choir will be rehearsing their new music from September.

McCarthy and Moon

We have three gigs booked for the autumn so far and we are looking to add dates.  We are setting some of the poems from Poems from the Swamp and working on other material.  We are particularly delighted that the incredible Dave Green is joining us in November at the Albert Room for some great improvisation and the warmest bass sound you can imagine.

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Heading into August

July has almost flown and August looms with the hope of some dedicated writing time.  It’s been a very busy and exciting period with projects in schools and setting up the new Best Words project, which is coming together very well – details to follow. I’ve had some lovely gigs and the book is starting to land out there in the world.  It will be available from Amazon shortly and full details will be posted.  Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy and for your feedback.

Josie Moon poet

My fabulous summer hat.

If you would like a copy of Poems from the Swamp, simply order direct from me and I’ll send out to you. They’re £7.50 and you can pay by PayPal.

Poems from the Swamp Josie Moon

Lots of info coming very soon about new work and projects.  Enjoy the sunshine, and wear a nice hat.