On 25th February 2016, it was my great privelege to host a Toastmasters evening with a difference!
The theme of the meeting was ‘Poetry’, but beyond making this the theme, the format was also changed. The first half ran as normal, with a table topics session, but instead of 3 prepared speakers in the second half, which is the norm, 8 members shared, performed or read poems, which could be either their own or their favourite poems.
Each of these speakers was given a slot of 1-2 minutes, as with table topics, and Russell Eden evaluated each of them, in the manner of a topics evaluation, focusing on each speaker for one minute.
Beyond this, the Grammarian’s role was introduced in the form of a poem by Julie Lawrence, and our president Anita Martin delivered her Business Session in the form of a poem. Russell Eden, who was Topics Master as well as an Evaluator, also made the table topics poetry-themed. Rachel Snell, in addition to her speaking slot in the second half, shared one of her poems as the Invocation (thought for the day).
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and creative energy in the room, and it was an evening I will never forget!
Below are some of the poems, written by our members, that were shared on the night, so that we have a memento of the evening. If you shared a poem on the night and it is not here (and you would like it to be), please let me know and I can amend this later. I have not been able to upload Clive’s poem due to a technical issue (which I have informed him of), but I hope to be able to upload it soon. Note: In each case, I have put the name of the poet in bold before the poem, rather than after.
Little Old Bess
I am so sorry my behaviour’s so poor
I ‘m well aware I have wrecked 2 doors,
I am sorry I have got myself in a stew
But I promise I will behave when the doors are brand new.
I try to behave then things go wrong
Cos I get in my head you beggars have gone,
I nibble the doors and mess up my bed
Which keeps me going until the next time I am fed.
When you go out and leave me all alone
I know I really should never ever moan,
But when I am left and know it’s just me,
I know it’s a long time until I have tea
Kongs and bones whatever you like
Doesn’t ever replace going on a big hike,
Your company and love that’s all that I need
Especially when you say let’s put on that lead.
So please accept how sorry I am.
When you next come home I’ll be as quiet as a lamb.
I really am a good little girl
Even though I know I put your head in a swirl.
So to conclude I wish you a Happy Day
As I said I am sorry – what more can I say?
Just love me and care and just be my dear Missy
I promise I’ll behave and not be so Dizzy
Slipping accidentally on a highly polished floor
The victim did then recourse to the law!
Pursuing a ‘Lack of Duty of Care’
Who now as a casualty, travelled in a wheelchair.
To follow this ‘Legal Stance’
A monetary claim involved insurance.
Wheels of justice are exceeding slow
Before heading to court for this financial blow.
With case prepared and Counsel sought
The Plaintiff then proceeded to court.
Prosecution questions were detailed and curious
Accusing the effects of the injury as spurious.
These accusations constantly persisted
To which the the defendant consistently resisted.
The trial conclusion was finally attained
Having a settlement figure of £1M was claimed!
Prosecuting counsel was really upset
Taking £1M win the defendant would regret.
He threatened to HOUND Him to despair
Proving it was but a PHONEY in a wheelchair.
He promised that he would pursue as the claimant leaves
To disclose THE FRAUD, of which he blatantly deceives.
The response left him somewhat askance
“When I leave court by private ambulance
I shall head directly for the airport,
No part of my journey for you to ABORT!”
(IN SNEERING VOICE)
“I will follow you in proximity, this fraud to disclose.
I assure you that your trail will always be close to my nose.”
“ You can chase me as much as you like,
You will be busy, prepare for a hike!
When I get to the airport I will lead you a dance
The plane I take will be landing in France!
In Paris awaits me an ambulance and Nurse
These additional expenses will no longer be a costly curse.
The destination will be ‘Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine’
Where I shall inculcate many ‘Spirits Divine.’
The MIRACLE CURE will take place there
The spirits will then let me step down from this chair!”
The lawyer could see that this was defeat,
Impossible or unlikely to expose this deceit!
The proceeds were for his ‘Nest to Feather’
DON’T YOU ALL LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER?
Where has it gone the fire of youth, now that I’m growing older?
Do they look at me with my greying hair, and think I’m somehow colder?
Is my passion put away out of sight, like papers in a folder?
There was a time when I was young, with courage to be much bolder.
Life has been a kaleidoscope of patters unexpected.
We choose our paths but when we arrive, much is unelected.
Would love be fruitful and meaningful if one was always respected?
Maybe not, we learn much more if sadly we’ve been rejected.
I envy women whose lives are simpler, or so it looks to me,
With responsible husbands and children who love them, anyone can see!
I could have been happy with a life much different, grandchildren on my knee,
Didn’t happen that way, but it’s not been dull, at least I’m healthy and free.
I’ve travelled the world, drunk champagne and seen some beautiful places.
I’ve eaten gourmet food, shopped at Harrods, had days out at the races.
Yet still there’s aomething missing from life when I look at a sea of faces,
I’m not quite there, I don’t belond. A, I one of the eccentric sad cases?
Are there regrets? Well not very many, I can’t really change what’s past.
But it doesn’t seem there’s been very much that had the power to last.
Do we choose our lives? I’m not so sure, when we get here the die is cast.
If we’ve partners who don’t always meet us halfway, results leave the family aghast.
I’ve lived a life of many parts and some of them were tough.
But I’ve learned to love and lose and live, and survive the parts that were rough.
There were many times it’s been so sad, I felt I’d had enough,
But millions of women feel the same, with misery his under the fluff.
There’s still lots of love and adventure in me. I know I’m not finished yet.
I’m older and wiser, blessed with good friends, and luckily not in debt.
These menopausal musings will show, in my ways I’m not yet set.
So if you’re like me, be passionate and free, and steer clear of convention’s net.
sight straining out to sea,
the ships long since
the rain-veiled horizon,
past and gone.
scrutinizing the skyline
Will they come?
among sun-lit pebbles
shells blue and white
and water lapping.
But, I’m all at sea.
©Rachel Snell 1999
The wind is talking to her soul.
She cannot hear the words it speaks,
so deep the sounds
that resonate within.
It carries with it stories past.
She listens hard,
she does not catch
the stories yet to come.
She holds her breath
the wind it breathes,
now almost imperceptible.
she dares to trust and know
this wind, its child is good.
©Rachel Snell 2012
And when I find myself
in this place once more,
the wolves at the door, howling, calling,
the wind swirling, mocking,
chasing round the house,
the gate banging, knocking,
the trees beating against the roof
in the dark, when I am all alone,
I cover my ears, turn over in bed,
to shut it all out.
They told me ‘You should have shut the gate,
you know you should. You’ve only
yourself to blame. Its too late now.’
And they told me ‘Why didn’t you cut those trees,
you should you know, you know you should.’
In the night so black and the wind
and the beating and the wolves,
it’s easy to believe I made all this,
the darkness and the wind
that swirls and drums and mocks.
But I did not.
Only God Almighty is God
and if I did not know
He is in charge to let or block the wind,
and the dark and the wolves,
with the beating and the knocking
and the mocking and the chasing;
this place would be Hell.
But because of God Almighty it is not.
Daily without fail morning does come,
God lifts its head out through
the blanket of darkness, broadcasts light;
and the wolves they’ll skulk away
and that wind will shut its mouth,
and I may never know why it is
I find myself in a place like this,
again and again: but
I know it is more safe than it seems,
because of God.
©Rachel Snell 2012
He was a friend, he was a colleague
but he might as well have been a sneaky alcoholic
for he made me swallow a stupid promise
Of a website design and how he was on it.
At first he said that our arrangement
Was no longer profitable so he went and changed it
And cashed in his contract that was once immortal
for two months money and an internet portal.
The money went as quick as the time
Caused me to question these goals of mine.
I knew I had to do something fast
So I resolved to not let an opportunity pass.
I took on everything that came my way
And breakfast networking made my day
Through hard work my life came back into balance
Helped by my considerable writing talent.
Financially secure – money was not the only reward.
Help, advice and so much more.
It wasn’t just some clever hocus pocus.
But my new business slowly came into focus.
Now I’m a writer, but to my shame
It took six months to get my business name
But when it came, it struck like lightning
The now proud owner of Direct Sales Copywriting
So back I went to cash in that website
But my good friend actually wasn’t forthright.
Every schedule he made was bust and broken
Till I no longer trusted the words he’d spoken.
I got the advice of my dearest friend Neil
Who said that I should at once appeal
To his sense of grown up right and fairness
And get a timescale made of clearness.
And dear listener, you already know what happened.
We had one more promise that was at once flattened.
Then he phoned so full of fear
To tell me nothing could be done till next year.
So this is the last time he’ll let me down
Because I’d have been better off employing a circus clown.
Yet, there’s another lesson I have learned.
Which is: once you’re burnt don’t keep getting burned.
Fellow Toasties, it is the Grammarian’s role to listen,
To each and every speakers rendition,
To make a note of words and phrases
That crafts a presentation that amazes
Through poetic lyrics and colourful expression
Descriptive language creates an impression
For our imaginations to create the scene
Of where they are or where they’ve been.
The other challenge is to use my chosen word
And I keep a count each time it’s heard.
My word tonight reflects the reciters aim
Where each utterance is of fluent refrain
Where coherent meaning shows improvement,
Or to form a joint allowing movement.
The word ‘articulate’ can be thoughtfully included
But be aware, random use will be excluded.
And so there being nothing more to tell,
The Grammarian’s role, in a nutshell.
Squinting at sunsets on solitary days,
you clamber to capture the apertured rays,
filtered through fences like dipped amber beams
diluted, diffracted and sifted through screens
Inside the kebab shop, evading the cold:
An eminent man with a name to uphold,
looking back awkwardly over his shoulder
as daylight descends in incendiary smoulder.