I’ve had a busy weekend.
On Saturday I read with fellow Crystal Clear poets Aly Stoneman, Jess Mayhew and Andrew Graves at Southwell. The reading was enjoyable and well attended. We were followed by Wayne Burrows who read a selection of poems from his excellent ‘Apple Sequence’.
The following day I drove to the Ledbury Poetry Festival where Crystal Clear were booked again, this time with the addition of Charles Lauder, and with Crystal Clear director Jonathan Taylor providing introductions between shared duty at sheparding the ever charming and energetic Tayor twins .
I managed to catch some excellent events, amongst them Simon Armitage reading to a packed community hall from his new book Walking Home, Maria Taylor launching her excellent Nine Arches collection Melanchrini, and Andrew Motion reading from his new Treasure Island sequel and poetry from The Cinder Path.
I also managed to see ‘Voyages to Antartica’ with Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Melanie Challenger and Bill Manhire each reading from their Antartic related publications in turn. I bought Samantha’s book, Banjo, which I hope to reveiw on this blog soon.
I emerged from the hall chilled, feeling as though I too been on a voyage across vast white and creaking landscapes where sleigh dogs, ponys and men had all lost there lives in the struggle to survive in such an extreme environment.
Thankfully, summer arrived for a few minutes as I crossed the road to catch Simon Armitage talking about his Pennine walk, a less dangerous but still considerable undertaking. Simon, in relaxed and humourous mood, was aided by a slide show which he described to an appreciative audience as ‘a bit rubbish, because I did it’.
Then it was back to the wonderful Shell Gallery for the CCC reading with Jess and Charles. One of the great things about having my pamphlet produced with CCC is the sense of community that has grown amongst the very different writers within the group. I’ve also enjoyed watching our collective improvement as we have each gained confidence as readers.
I very much enjoyed listening to everyone perform their poems, which seem to get better with each hearing. Jess had some new material which I’d particularly like to hear again and look forward to seeing in print in future.
I sprinted back to the community hall to catch Andrew Motion. He described how he grown up in a ‘non-reading’ home, and so had read very little as a child until an inspirational English teacher ‘walked into my head and turned the lights on’. If you have seen or heard Andrew read you will know that there is something of prince Charles in his manner as he delivers his poems and stories with a combination of authority and self-depreciating humour. Words like ‘beastly’ ‘enchanting’ and ‘delightful’ sound right coming for this tall elegant chap. In describing his new Treasure Island book he told how Jim, the narrator, had been properly educated ‘to allow me to write in the poncy way that comes naturally to me.’
Then it was back to see Maria Taylor launch her brilliant new book. The tennis final may have affected the number of people in attendance, but Maria gave a champions reading which made her twenty minuet slot seem more like ten, and left the audience wanting more. This was certainly a highlight of the festival, as was bumping into poetry friends, chatting with organisers and volunteers, and being given half a chocolate brownie by Kim Moore.
Hopefully I’ll have time to reveiw both Melanchrini and Banjo in the coming weeks. P.S I have some poems in the new Bow Wow Shop which you can read in if click here. ta.