Photo of serious audience taken by Aly Stoneman
Having unsuccessfully tried to tame my three-day fever with paracetamol and sooth my raw throat with lozenges, I arrived coughing, clammy and slightly off-kilter in the city of Nottingham for the launch of Crystal Pamphlets at the City Gallery.
Just past and to the left of Nottingham’s famous lion statues there is a small gated alleyway which leads to the glass fronted gallery with its white walls and wooden floor. If you turn to look up and over your shoulder before entering you can see through the steel structure over the doorway to look at the perfectly framed council building dome, a mini St. Paul’s through a millennium bridge-style metal lattice.
I met the proprietor at the door who told me that this former sex shop had been open two months and that the sound of the clock mechanism in the tower bounces and funnels up the alley walls to ricochet into the gallery doorway.
The readers were Deborah-Tyler Bennet, Andrew Graves, Mark Goodwin, Charles Lauder, Aly Stoneman, Wayne Burrows and myself.
The event was extremely enjoyable, there being a bar, good music and a large audience of interested listeners. Aly had planned a really good structure to the readings; Crystal Clear director Jonathan Taylor introduced the evening, explaining how the writers had been selected via a competition and speaking about the Arts Council Grant and support from Writing East Midlands.
Each Crystal Clear poet introduced their mentor who read their own work before introducing their mentee. Before each set of poems we were treated to insights into the mentoring relationships. Introductions enabled each reader to make succinct statements about what she or he found to be the strengths of each-others work. By the end of the evening no-one present was left in any doubt that the project had succeeded in bringing about a fruitful creative cross-pollination between all parties.
After lots of chat and a glass of wine I left the gallery to the sound of ‘Hey Joe’ played by a bandana wearing busker with log grey hair. Listening cross-legged at his feet sat two girls, aged about 16; either this was a testament to the enduring appeal of rock n roll or a sobering reminder that kids of this age still have no particular place to go.
You can read more about Crystal Clear pamphlets and other projects by clinking the link in the link on the left.