It was like stepping into a bubble where we were away from the turmoils of the world we live in, and especially the shitty year we all have been through, politically, and humanly speaking.
New Roots is a shop run by volunteers to sell to the people of Sheffield vegetarian, vegan, organic, and gluten-free food and snacks. I had never heard of this shop before I walked in for the Dead (Women) Poets Society event. In the shop, seeing my confused face about wherever to go, Helen Mort told me the poetry night was happening downstairs.
The space downstairs looks like a cosy living-room. Fairy lights, shelves full of books, big comfy chairs and a bunch of smiling people.
Jasmine Simms, one of the founders of the Dead Women Poets Society, introduced the special guests in the room. She opened the night with one of Marina Tsetaeva’s (the twentieth century Russian poet) poems and explained how the Soviet poet is the main inspiration of this society and how her works influenced Jasmine as a person, and a poet herself.
After Jasmine, Jenny Danes spoke about Julia Casterton’s life and career as a poet. Jenny studies English Literature and German in Newcastle and is one of the literature editors for Alliterati magazine. She depicted Julia Casterton’s work in a very delicate and sensitive way, emphasizing that she is not acknowledged enough for the art she created whilst alive.
Helen Mort made us all feel exclusive by reading a few poems from her unpublished personal notebook. In one of them, she gives to loneliness a voice to which everyone in the room could relate. She also celebrated Sarah Kane’s work by reading a long monologue from her 1998 play Crave. Helen chose Sarah Kane because of the impact on her creative life by the play 4.48 Psychosis and paid tribute to the dead woman poet beautifully.
Last but not least was Imogen Cassels, winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2013, who told us about Veronica Forrest-Thomson. In the portrait she described, Imogen focused on the importance of languages and translations (as Jasmine did with Marina Tsetaeva at the beginning of the night) and how writing sometimes means the same thing as translating.
After a small break we came back for an open mic session where we had the chance to discover more voices, more talents, and more great dead women poets and their lives, sometimes forgotten.
This night felt like I was surrounded by friends away from what’s happening in a world I cannot always comprehend. Sharing verses to sooth my soul and learning new things about poetry and art that fed my soul. I left the room inspired to create more and hopeful that if you surround yourself with poets, alive and dead, you can find peace.