As we have done in previous years, during Holy Week we do something a bit different from the rest of the series. Last year we had a cinema trip, this time around we had Lance Pierson – who describes himself as a performer – presenting a selection of Poems for Holy Week. Having said that, he actually covered the full season including selections of poems about both Lent and Easter. If you’re in the Oxford Diocese, you may have come across Lance previously as he was one of the guest speakers at the Diocesan Conference in High Wycombe.
The evening was very enjoyable as Lance doesn’t just deliver a dry reading of the poems. In some cases he has actions along with his reading, for others he had pictures projected onto a screen. (If you listen to some of his CD’s the poems are backed by suitable soundscapes mixing music and sound effects.) He also drew from a broad range of authors, covering a wide variety of time periods from poems written in old English through to poems from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He is also very personable, and spent a lot of time before and after the show talking to members of the audience, and proved to be very aware of people in the audience in that he apologised immediately to one of the members of our congregation who relies on the hearing aid loop in the hall because he went out of range of the microphone on one of the poems.
Interestingly, at least half of the audience were people who weren’t part of our congregation – the evening had been advertised in the local St Andrew’s Bookshop, and Lance himself lists his upcoming events on his website. We had several people from Bracknell, and quite a few who came across from Caversham too. Certainly the evening seemed to go down well with them too.
After the success of the evening, I’m quite sure we’ll be seeing Lance making a return visit. Until then, we picked up a couple of his CD’s – Beth opting for a recording of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and me going for a recording of lesser known Sir John Betjeman poems (the BBC owns the exclusive recording rights to the well known ones) that includes one of my favourites, Blame the Vicar.