What a lovely afternoon it’s been - even the weather cheered up for my long drive to Leicester on a very special occasion: it was the launch of yet another collection of poems by Alice Beer. I wouldn’t normally draw attention to a writer’s date of birth, but this information on the back is relevant to the content of “Window on the Square” :Alice Beer was born in Vienna in 1912, and moved toEngland in 1937. She lives in a flat in Leicester overlooking De Montfort Square
The other important statement on the back cover is:
ALL PROFIT FROM THE SALE OF THIS PAMPHLET
WILL BE DONATED TO HAMLIN FISTULA UK
If you don’t know about this life-destroying condition, (and even if you do) click here to find out more about this charity, and, for a very brief photo story of one young woman’s path to recovery, and a chance of having a normal life restored, click here.
I met Alice in August 1996 at my first residential poetry course with the Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire, and, like many others who have fallen under her spell, have kept in touch ever since. This contact was easier to maintain because of the fortnightly poetry group, Soundswrite, that held its first meeting in 2000, and I was delighted to see that Alice also was joining this wonderful group.
If you’d like to find out more about Window on the Square, and support this very worthwhile charity, this book is available via the link to Alice’s web-page above, and also the link to Soundswrite.
One of the poems that were read this afternoon has helped me to decide which of my own will be Poem of the Week. Alice’s is called Puzzling, and recounts her sighting of a fox on three very different occasions . The most recent of these took place below her window on the square,
‘it trotted off,
not leisurely and not in a hurry, intent
on its own business and left me wondering
why I felt as if the clouds
had lifted on this dark December morning
a gift bestowed on me.’
I, too, am fascinated by the urban fox, and its parallel world –
Monochrome foxcubs tumble on the lawn.
Sparrows and finches stir
and test their voices.
As day noses up behind next-door’s
privet hedge and sycamore
the cool earth yawns and calls.
Wet grass springs back after each footfall.
A tunnel strokes damp fur as cubs creep down
into their solid sleep.
Their dreams dissolve above them
and this house, a block of shadow
is rubbed out.