Brian Dann, poet and co-author of Crystal Palace Norwood Heights has died at the age of 89.
Brian started Poetry Triangle, one of the first groups in the then-newly formed Crystal Palace Triangle Community Association, back in the early 1970s.
At his funeral service Audrey Hammond, artist, CPTCA founder and another co-author of Crystal Palace Norwood Heights recalled how in July 1969 Brian had seen an article in the Norwood News which she had written about the Triangle and how Croydon council was letting it fall into disrepair.
“I had a scheme to revive it with the creation of a family arts centre.” This idea attracted the interest of many people including Brian and the artist Mike Conrad, the third co-author of Crystal Palace Norwood Heights.
“A very long way back his first involvement was in one of our very first CPTCA events – a childrens playday organised in old Nissen huts behind what is now Sainsbury’s supermarket.
“Brian brought a very small Bunty and Nigel – and stayed all day to help.
“When he and Mike and I spent over four years making our book I could not have had kinder, more patient inspiring people to work with.
“And I treasure the little books of poetry he gave me.”
In addition to the little books of poetry he wrote, Brian was also heavily involved with Poetry in Croydon and is listed as vice chairman on a website about Poets Anonymous which says it “originated in February 1990 at Ashburton library, Addiscombe as a house-to-house workshop to encourage poetry writers to share their poems and offer constructive criticism.”
- Brian and Joyce were among the first people I met when I moved into this area. Having joined the CPTCA I noticed there was a poetry reading at their Grangecliffe Gardens home, rang Brian up and asked if I could come along.The cost was just 30p, which paid for the ingredients of the cakes and other treats served up by Joyce, a brilliant cook and lovely person, at half time. (The family was completed by Nigel, Julia and an amazing cat called Spot.)
Poetry at the time was enjoying a huge renaissance with the publication of Penguin Modern Poets 10 The Mersey Sound featuring Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten.
At Poetry Triangle you were not only encouraged to try writing your own poetry, you were also introduced to a much wider range of poems and poets of the time including Song of the Battery Hen by Edwin Brock; The Liberal Christ Gives an Interview by Adrian Mitchell; works by Geoffrey Hill including one about a BBC TV programme called ‘Your Life in their Hands’ the title of which currently escapes me; John Betjeman’s A Subaltern’s Love Song; Miroslav Holub’s In Love
Most of the evenings I attended were summertime ones along with some winter ones, depending on where Manchester United were playing that Saturday.
Brian’s funeral, like Joyce’s in 2010, was a Humanist one. The music for reflection was Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention: Who Knows Where the Time Goes? JG.
BOLD A brilliant obituary by his son Nigel can be found on The Guardian website. Donations for St Wilfrid’s hospice should be sent to Serenity funeral directors, 43 South Street, Eastbourne BN21 4UT