‘…I told you/ I really like your smile./ And to my surprise/ you gave it to me.’
This astonishing debut by Beth Calverley 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.
‘This is a rich, absorbing, heart-warming collection, sensitive to life’s pleasures and pains. Beth Calverley makes us attend differently to ordinary things – a single look can be ‘a glass of cold water’, a room ‘a tangle / of buttery light’, a smile ‘a too- / tight scrunchy’. We should all smile more, and we should all read more poetry. This collection covers all bases!’ – Helen Mort
Go gently. This collection is home to all kinds of smiles. Many of the poems in the collection look at how smiles adapt to challenging times as well as positive ones. They explore experiences of mental ill-health, physical ill-health, grief, loss and trauma as well as joy and connection.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beth Calverley is a poet, creative coach and founder of The Poetry
Machine, where she co-creates poems with people via her supportive practice. 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.