|I made the acquaintance of
Jayne Osborn when she joined Eratosphere,
an online poetry community set up and generously run by
Alex Pepple of the Able Muse Press, at the beginning of
2010. I myself joined Eratosphere in August 2005, and
another poetry forum, The
Sonnet Board, in February 2006. They have benefited
me enormously. And not just in the quality and quantity of
my verse. I have learnt a lot that I have subsequently
used in my teaching and prose writing. I have also heard
about publishing opportunities and made the acquaintance
of a large number of other poets, some in person. Being
part of a community of poets was something I’d previously
lacked, mainly because I had chosen to settle abroad.
Eratosphere is not a back-slapping forum, and beginners
are discouraged from posting poems. There are two boards
for workshopping metrical poetry. The regular one is
called Metrical Poetry, while poems posted at the Deep End
“should be well developed, not an early draft”, and
commenters there are encouraged to remove their kid
I met Jayne in person when she came to my first two shows for The Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh in early August 2012. (The Festival changed its name to Just Festival the year after.) After a poor preview performance in St John’s Church at lunchtime, she helped me prepare for the late afternoon concert in the Chapel, my first ticketed show ever. Thanks to her, I was in a good state of mind when the curtain went up. Another poet from Eratosphere I hadn’t previously met, Nigel Mace, was there with his wife, the actor and playwright, Vanessa Rosenthal. And at the last moment, unannounced, my cousin Steve turned up along with his wife, Helen, and their son, Ben. My small, supportive audience lifted me, and I was happy with how it went. Steve made a recording.
At the beginning of this year, a member of Eratosphere, William A. Baurle, was working on a poem in lavish praise of someone. Jayne jokingly remarked that she was waiting for someone to write a poem for her, and I was inspired to compose this piece. It is not only a tribute to her, but also to the muse of lyric poetry, Erato, as well as to Eratosphere itself. Although Eratosphere is usually called the Sphere on the site, another abbreviation for it is Erato, as in the site’s web address. As Jayne is its administrator, the forum is also invoked by the repetend in the verses of the song (“comes/came in the warm and winning form of Jayne”).