Poems and Pots

John Rivers is the first to admit he's not an entertainer and that Poems and Pots isn't a 'show' as such, but hopefully a relaxing opportunity to tease out and encourage the creative connections between poetry and pottery. As an introduction, he explains his own history; he's a potter who has exhibited his work for 30 years at the West End Fair and has also taught poetry to adults for 20. This is an attempt to bring both of these parts of his life together, both physically (some of his most recent work have been poems inscribed into fired clay) and metaphorically.

Initially, this very much feels like an evening class for the silver-haired generation. Rivers has to work hard to overcome most of the participants' natural reticence among strangers, encouraging them to feel confident enough to examine a poem and attempt to unlock its meaning and form through group discussion. To his credit - especially in light of the intimacy that comes from there being a relatively small number of participants - Rivers is good at encouraging the participants to open up about their own reactions to a poem and to read blind (i.e. without the additional context that comes from knowing the identity of the poet–in this case, Sylvia Plath).

Having briefly outlined how poetry 'works', Rivers then balances this with some explanation of the pottery procedure, including the millions of years of geological processes required to create the basic clay in the first place. Pottery, he believes, was the first human art form which actively transformed the materials used; his emphasis, to an extent, is how poetry too can take simple words and transform them into something full of emotion and cadence.

How far you may successfully go with this metaphor is debatable, although Rivers makes good choices when it comes to the poetry that supports his argument through their subject matter, ambiguities and forms. Even if the styling of his ceramics are not quite your thing, his enthusiasm for both art forms is certainly palpable.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues


Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre




The Blurb

A chance to probe poems and handle pots. Don't be celebrity cannon fodder. Discuss ... delve ... read aloud ... discover poems. A lively start to the morning. Wanted: open minds and tactile hands. www.riddingspottery.co.uk