“I feel very strongly that poetry is for everyone. A lot of people think they can’t do poetry. What I say to that is, poetry is just listening to the world, thinking about the world, and writing it down from your own perspective”
Beth Calverley is a poet, creative coach and founder of The Poetry
Machine. Her poetry lives and breathes, holding your hand through crisp emotional landscapes.
Beth co-creates poems with people via her supportive practice, The Poetry Machine. She collaborates with places of work, learning, care and play, helping people to express what matters to them most.
One of Rife Magazine’s 2018 influential young people in Bristol, Beth was a Roundhouse Slam Finalist 2018 and a Bristol Life Awards Arts Finalist 2020. She is Poet in Residence at UH Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust and was published in These Are The Hands, the NHS anthology endorsed by Stephen Fry and Michael Rosen.
Beth has performed at iconic venues such as Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic and London Roundhouse. She has worked with the BBC, Sky, Oh Magazine and The Prince’s Trust, among many other brilliant local and national organisations. Beth is also part of House of Figs, a music and poetry duo, and co-produces Milk Poetry, a nurturing platform for spoken word in Bristol.
BRAVE FACES & OTHER SMILES
‘…I told you / ‘I really like your smile’ / and, to my surprise / you gave it to me.’
Beth’s astonishing debut collection takes the umbrella theme of the smile and shares it out – with great generosity and care – among a multiplicity of subjects, moods and meanings. Smiles can be brave, shy, sad, or a lighthouse beam of joy. They can be a mess of countless other things.
This subject seems so appropriate to a poet whose presence, way of reaching out to every member of her audience, and most of all her smile, seem to create smiles all around her. Her leaps of imagination take the breath away. Her use of recurring imagery draws a safety-net of light around her listeners and readers.
Some of the smiles that inspired poems in this collection are contributed by people whom Beth has met on her adventures with The Poetry Machine. These poems are worthy of your great attention. We dare you not to smile as you read.
Amidst the silver clouds and spectacles,
I met you:
lady with the loveliest smile I’ve ever seen.
History rippled your cheekbone map from lip to ear,
cauldrons so clear
I knew straight up
you were magic.
Silence slurped at your cup,
a tiny trick that gave you substance.
Spellbound, I edged closer.
Back then, I was invisible;
too shy to smile without looking for the pieces
of pushed luck in my soul’s reflection,
too shy to risk cracking my face in case it caved.
To me, your laughter lines were loud, sudden.
They drew me in.
The purr of your perfume,
the sheathed claw of your beauty
hinted at a life not read to girls at bedtime.
Your smile was the shock
of near-bad luck turned good.
A black cat walking the right way.
A magpie, joined in the end
by the flutter of a friend.
That’s when you looked straight at me,
like a glass of cold water.
I spilled my thoughts in awe –
appalled at my own daring,
I told you
I really like your smile
and, to my surprise,
you gave it to me.