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Archive for June, 2011

WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

Lack of Ownership!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Portuguese Custard Tarts – from Café Nero

LISTENING TO:

Songs from the Wood – Jethro Tull.

             “Have you ever stood in an April wood and called the new year in….”

                                                Beltane – Jethro Tull.

SOME OF MY DOINGS:

Last week saw me attend two writer’s group meetings and the rest of my writing time working on the Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day, which is next Saturday 2nd July.

Details of the day are almost finalised and can be found on the blog

http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com.

The team who are organising it, headed by Rachel Flowers from Warwickshire County Arts, with Alan Ottey and Anne Startin from Nuneaton and Bedworth Council and myself, met on Friday afternoon and put the final touches to the programme for me to post on the blog, which is now done and I can focus on my role for the day and prepare in the run up to the events.

My role as festival poet is to capture the essence of the day in poetry and to post it on to the blog, which I hope many people who cannot attend will dip into through out the day to see how it is going. I have also been requested to write a poem for Nuneaton which reflects to spirit of the place that has grown up through its history and connections with George Eliot and was the model for her town of Milby.

I really want to take the town of Nuneaton out into the global village and using internet get as many people as I can from across the world sending me words to be used in a collaborative poem, which I will create using the words. The word list has been started and I am measuring how far words have travelled to be included so I am asking contributors to include the city and country in their submissions.

For those who contribute from the UK, I am building a map of the journey linking each word as they come in, reaching out to the places where poets live.

It would also like to get some words in other languages (other than English), to create a multi-language poem that unites our languages and cultures and creates a poem that resides in the global village, where perhaps we can build the next poetry trail as a virtual installation that allows artists and poets to collaborate on designs and words to create sculpted verse that is owned and shared by everyone.

I will of course be reading on the day, not only some of the poems that I write as part of the festival, but also some of my regular pieces, including my Jimi Hendrix poem for which there has been a special request, I will also read my poem “Our Town”, which is appropriate as it shows that there is very little difference between towns today.

Having said that Nuneaton town centre offers a variety of cultural entertainment through out the year with at least one festival day per month, the Poetry Day being just one of them. There is a great support for grassroots events with a focus on local artists and performers, the real heroes of the town being given a chance to showcase their work, something that they are to be commended for, this is what towns should be doing, offering a chance to do something different, something that the out of town shopping centres don’t do.

You can send me words using the following:

Email – nuneatonpoetryday@yahoo.co.uk

Twitter – @nuneatonpoetday

On Facebook – on the wall of the ‘Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day’ event page.

My lost poet this week is Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938).

I first became aware of Mandelstam through the book Mandelstam Variations by the Warwick, poet David Morley which was published in 1991 and I picked up in a second hand bookshop several years later.

Mandelstam was born in Warsaw,Poland in 1891, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire, hence he is always seen as a Russian Poet and a contemporary of poets such as Nikolai Gumilyov and Sergei Gorodetsky, these two being the founders of Acmeism or the Guild of Poets, of which Mandelstam became a member in 1911. It was Mandelstam’s collection Kamen (Stone) published in 1913, that is considered as the fundamental best work of the Acmeist group. 

Kamen – explored subjects such as music and Roman classical architecture and Byzantine Cathedrals. The Acmeists were anti-symbolism, using their own thoughts (rather than tying expressions to classical mysticism) as a means of expressing political and social issues, however Mandelstam explored beyond this into the human condition and feelings, which make his work less of its time and still relevant today.

Mandelstam supported the Revolution of February 1917 but was initially hostile to the Bolshevik uprising of the following October, through his work with the Ministry of Education, he often travelled South and so avoided the conflicts and struggles that ensued in the aftermath of the revolution. After the revolution his views on contemporary poetry were often severe, he only really admired the work of Pasternak and Akhmatova, the poet who was married to Gumilyov. He saw others such as Mayakovsky and Marina Tsvetaeva as tasteless and childish, their poetry a continual wailing cry of infants.

Mandelstam, married in 1922, his wife Nadezhda, was to follow him into his later exile and wrote of these times later in her life publishing Hope against Hope and Abandoned Hope in the 1970’s.

He wrote children’s books to support himself, along with translations of foreign authors, writing mainly prose in the 1920’s. His return to poetry saw him returning to cultural traditions, traditions that went back beyond the revolution and brought him under the spotlight of the Soviet cultural authorities who began to question his loyalties.

He was arrested in 1934 for his poem that was critical of Stalin and the Stalinist regime, the poem which begins with the line “We live, with feeling, no country under our feet…”  ends with a personal insult to Stalin and his subordinates. This was a potentially suicidal act and it was through Pasternak that Stalin’s attention to Mandelstam was smoothed over to see Mandelstam and his wife exiled to Cherdyn and after a suicide attempt this was commuted to exile in the city of Voronezh.

He was arrested again in 1938 for counter revolutionary activities and sentenced to five years hard labour; he died in a gulag near toVladivostok in December of that year.

During these periods of exile, he kept three notebooks of poetry that were preserved by his wife and eventually published in 1990 as Voronez Poems

International recognition came in 1973, with a Soviet collection of his poetry followed by publication in the west.

The Acmeist movement was enriched by a small group of Russian Poets, many of whom are not widely known in the west – Osip Mandelstam is just one of them and exploring this movement will bring to life other lost poets worthy of recognition.

University of Alberta – Acmes Page – with links to some of Mandelstam’s poetry.

http://www.ualberta.ca/~lmalcolm/poetry/acmeists.html#osip

The selected poems of Osip Mandelstam (Amazon)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Poems-Mandelstam-Review-Classics/dp/1590170911/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309183157&sr=8-1

COMING SOON DOINGS

Readings in July.

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield. -TBC

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

 

 What is ANNOYING me this week?

 

 Losing my phone charger.

 

 What is DELIGHTING me this week?

 

 Father’s day – spent with my Son and Grandson.

 

LISTENING TO:

 

Hydranoid Musia’s latest master mix by Mike-Six.

 

SOME OF MY DOINGS:

 

Last week saw me attend the Coventry Launch of Tony Owen’s – The Dreaded Boy. This was a special evening for me for two particular reasons, firstly because Tony thanked me personally in the acknowledgements for this pamphlet, and secondly because I have heard this collection develop over the last eighteen months and it is fantastic to the see the results of Tony’s research and exploration in to the effects of modern warfare on the soldiers, aid workers and the families left behind.

 

This collect breaks new ground in war poetry, because Tony gives a voice to the families and friends of the soldiers fighting or peace keeping, but never-the-less out on the front line. Unlike his namesake from the first world war, Wilfred Owen, Tony is not a soldier and he therefore, made the connection with the Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Wives and Girlfriends and talked about their feelings as in the 21st Century they find themselves bombarded with news footage and on-line information on the warzones in a way that we have never seen before. No longer can we say “No News is Good News” because we now live in the world of 24 hour news, we allow the war zones into our front rooms, we see the horrors from our armchairs. Those with loved ones out on the front line cannot put the war out of their minds.

 

Tony’s collection is a brave, honest and real. These poems do not preach, they inform and respect the reader’s ability to make their own judgments.

 

His poem Diamonds for Karen Woo is very powerful as is the poem on Rwanda; these are just two among a very powerful collection. Tony delivered them accompanied by a guitar player and ambient music. He was joined by local poet Bethany Norris and the City Voices Choir. There was a speech from the Deputy Mayor who reflected onCoventry’s place as a city of Peace and Reconciliation and how Tony as a local poet was building on these themes with this excellent collection.

 

It is published by Pighog Press, based in Brighton, it is the first of the Pighog Passport series, it is delivered as a well designed style, taking its design ideas from a passport, though slightly larger, with watermarked pages and the author’s information printed at 90 degrees. Pighog press see this series as giving the poet a passport to bigger things.

 

It was also great to see so many Polesworth Poets at the launch, Jacqui Rowe, Janet Smith, Barry Patterson, Gary Carr and Jon Morley, which found us discussing Julian Cope’s associates with Pooley mound or Alvecote mound as he knew it, listen to Reynard the Fox to hear Julian’s take on this wonderful place.

 

Tony will be the guest poet at the Fizz 9 in September, it will be an evening of intense imagery, and I am honoured to be able to host such a fine poet in Polesworth. Tony will be selling copies of The Dreaded Boy at the event, not to be missed.

 

Friday saw me head to Burton-upon-Trent to the monthly SPOKEN WORLDS run by Gary Carr.

 

There was a good turnout of fine poets; Gary Longden has written a review at:

 

http://behindthearras.com/pubreviews.html#worlsjune

 

Sunday saw me spend a wonderful day at LEAMINGTON PEACE FESTIVAL. Made special because my son and three year old grandson came with me, as a lads day out on Fathers Day.

 

I had originally signed up to perform for ten minutes between bands on the acoustic stage on the bandstand where the compere Barry Patterson was keeping the crowds informed, entertained and making sure they disposed of their litter responsibly. This however changed on Saturday when I was informed that a band who were booked for the 11:45 slot on Sunday could not now do the gig, so Barry asked if I, Josie Allen would join him to fill the 45 minute slot with poetry. Not one to turn down an opportunity like this, I jumped at it.

 

The audience was transient at the start of the readings, which saw Josie, kick off, as the time went on more and more people settled and sat to listen, such that there was quite a crowd after ten minutes.

 

A festival crowd is different to a poetry reading audience, they have not necessarily come along to hear poetry and therefore as the poet you have to hook them in, using all the expression in your voice to gather their interest.

 

I started with two poems that received a respectful applause, these poems were about refugees and time and this clearly was not hooking them in, I finished my first set with my Jimi Hendrix poem, which received a cheer and an appreciative applause. So that was it, they wanted poems about music, musicians something with a little more theatre in the delivery.

 

Because we had decided to read in rotation, reading a few and then handing over to next poet until your turn came around again, it gave me time to review my set and to bring out poems that reflected the musical themes. Poems such as Setting, which looks at Liverpool in the post Beatle era and Memphised which explores Beale Street through the eyes of the poet tourist and a true bluesman. I did several others in my three spots, finishing with POP, the poem that laments the world of copies and fakes, the brand and all things over manufactured.

 

Barry performed his poems from Nature, some of which he accompanied with his drum or introduced with a flute tune, his poem for William Blake who he calls Billy Blake was well received. Josie gave a song and her George Eliot poem Mary Ann on the Rocks among her set.

 

It was a great experience, Poetry on a Sunday Summer afternoon in the park, Poetry the Language of Peace at the Peace Festival, Three Poets lost in the zone of worldly words and taking the audience with them.

 

But most of all for me, a Grandfather, Son and Grandson sharing Fathers Day, that is how it should always be.

 

My lost poet this week is KENNETH REXROTH (1905–1982)

 

This week, I head back across the Atlantic to find Kenneth Rexroth. If my previous lost poet, Langston Hughes was the Blues Poet, then Kenneth Rexroth was the Jazz poet.

 

Time Magazine called Rexroth, the Father of Beat Poetry, (a tag that he was not endeared to, stating that “an entomologist is not a bug”).  He was a great influence on Ginsberg, Kerouac et al. He was the compere at the San Francisco, Gallery 6 Poetry reading in 1955, which was the subject of the 2010 film Howl, with its ensuing court case at which Rexroth gave evidence. However if you look at the IMDB cast list for the film you won’t find the character of Rexroth, the movie makers passed him over as being unimportant.

 

Yet it was in part his influence as a poet that sparked the beat movement as the Beat Poets gathered around him, the spark that ignited Howl in the first place, there are resemblances in Rexroth’s Thou Shalt Not Kill, written on the death of Dylan Thomas that can be seen to have been an influence on Ginsberg’s poem.

 

Rexroth was born in South Bend,Indiana and spent his early adolescence on travels around the USA, mixing and befriending all walks of life, on his own journey in his own time, but reminiscent of Kerouac’s travels in On the Road and Dharma Bums, it is thought that Rexroth is the character Reinhold Cacoethes in Dharma Bums. Rexroth eventually settled in California where he was to spend the rest of his life.

 

His poems are about sex, mysticism or revolution or so he introduced his readings.  Poems such as Floating from The Phoenix and the Tortoise published in 1944, is full of sexual imagery as the poet and his lover float in a canoe on a waterlily bed ,as is A dialogue of watching published in Defence of Earth in 1956.

 

He was a poet and writer who was antiestablishment and actively disliked poets such as T.S Elliot and Ezra Pound, who he saw dull academics, with Elliot and his neurotic prissiness and Pound as self indulgent.

 

Rexroth is one of the most readable of the American poets at the same time he has sophistication, he was influenced by poets such a William Carlos Williams, both crafted their words into a direct, controlled dialogue. His work took him to explore Japanese forms; he was one of the first western poets to explore the use of the Haiku.

 

He was a traveller and a free spirit, focusing on wider things rather than being part of a community; his writings are an unbiased view of the world as he saw it, free from judgment and prejudice.

 

Kenneth Rexroth is a worthy lost poet, who I hope others will discover and see him as the free spirit and not tag him just as the Father of the Beat poets, he is much more than that.   

 

Links for Kenneth Rexroth.

 

Kenneth Rexroth Selected Poems – Edited byBradfordMorrow (Amazon Link)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Poems-John-Morton-Rexroth/dp/0811209172/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308693664&sr=8-1

 

The Rexroth Archive at The Bureau of Public Secrets.

 

http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/

COMING SOON DOINGS

 

Readings in July.

 

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

 

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

 

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield. -TBC

 

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

 

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.

 

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

Technology that is supposed to speed up my ability to do things, but cannot keep up with me!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Pear Cider over ice.

LISTENING TO:

Bert Jansch – Legend the Classic Recordings

SOME OF MY DOINGS:

The last week has seen me updating the blog site for Nuneaton Poetry Day, with the programme for the day and information on those taking part.

Check out the blog at: www.nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com

My evenings were filled with readings and performances, with the monthly Night Blue Fruit at Taylor John’s in Coventry on Tuesday last week. The evening started off slowly with a few poets gathered in this intimate music venue with Barry Patterson reading a couple of Matt Merritt’s poems as a way of promoting Matt’s forthcoming reading at The Fizz in Polesworth on 19th July.

I followed this with a couple of poems, finishing with my now well practiced piece “POP”, for which I feel a new found freedom in being able to recite it with out having to read it from the paper, this is so liberating and allows me to deliver more drama to the piece.

During my reading about 20 students fromWarwick University crept in and I appreciated them giving due reverence to me as the reader as they stood and listened.

Following on with Tony Owen whose latest collection The Dreaded Boy gets is regional launch at the Inspire Bar, this Wednesday 15th June.

Colin Dick, the well respected artist, poet and teacher, read from his notebooks and then sat and sketched the performers as they spilled their words into the mike. I think there is something really special to have an artist capture the evening in pencil and charcoal, it captures the atmosphere of the evening with the dimmed lighting creating listening shadows that hang from ceiling and in the corners, these are all flashed out with a photograph, but not so in Colin’s sketches.

Barry Patterson read his poems for the poets trail, of mining and acid ponds and then forgot to read his poem that will appear on the trail about giving advice to the Geordie Lad heading into Pooley Pit for first time.     

There were further readings from Martin Brown, Josie Allen and Tori Truslow who read from her macbook, much to the delight of the Warwick University students who had come along especially to support her.

The evening left me tired with the satisfaction of having bathed in real poetry as I arrived home and slipped into sleep at around 12:30am.

The next Night Blue Fruit is on 5th July at Taylor John’s Coventry at 8:00pm – Open Mic. Free entry, all are welcome.

Wednesday saw me attend the Momentum Scratch performance at Nottingham Playhouse where Colin Henchley’s play Sin was performed as one of five ten minute plays that had won a place into this final evening of performance for the Momentum Scratch Competition.

Sin was by far the darkest and most serious of the plays that were performed on the night, which is important as I feel that there is not enough of this type of play being written or commissioned, as writers focus on the public’s apparent need of comedy. Whilst Sin may not pander to this market, it is in my opinion of greater value, because it makes us face our tolerances and prejudices and reassess our values.

Don’t get me wrong comedy very much has its place, but it can only really be a true voice if we understand our values and can then make a judgment on when something is funny and when it steps over the line. Tolerance and Prejudice come from within, from our experiences, from what we consume to feed our experiences. Our diets have to be balanced.  

Sin, sees a Jew and Homosexual play out their prejudices’ as they travel on a train. This is all shaped around the sin that they are about to commit, that being, to marry a young couple though neither is ordained to do so, having lied to the couple that they have the authority to perform this ceremony. As it plays out there is a realisation that this train is heading to Belsen and that this act, though a Sin in the eyes of the Jew, would at least allow the couple to meet their fate, thinking they were man and wife.

Colin always tackles difficult subjects expertly, with respect and understanding. He is not afraid to explore taboos to gain a better understanding of our moral make up. He has a great ability to unravel the story as the dialogue progresses and to affect the audience into thinking about the subject. There is humour in this play, which at the beginning raised laughter, it was noticeably subdued after the revelation that they were on their way toBelsen, even though there were still funny lines after this point.

The characters prejudices’ get talked through and there is an understanding that develops as each of them reveals their stories and sacrifices, though neither gives up their on belief in who they are.  The barriers are broken down and they declare a friendship and put aside the concerns about the morality of the bogus marriage they are about to perform.

There is no doubt that these two men are courageous, brave enough to stand by what they believe, even though as it is revealed in the play, neither has to be there. The Jew was not born a Jew but had converted to Judaism and the Homosexual was caught in a situation of his own making, so as to implicate his lover who had informed on several of their politically motivated anti-fascist friends. 

This was all expertly delivered in ten minutes through Colin’s words, though this would seem an impossible task taking on such a big subject and delivering something of great value in a short space of time. As the intolerance within the greater intolerance is resolved. Colin delivers this skilfully, with a complete, believable play.

The performance was delivered by the graduate actors from the University theatre school and was really well done; however, I do think the director missed something by not delivering the poignant last line of the play as written in the script; an omission, which I did not understand as I felt it hammered home the situation and the conditions in which the characters found themselves. But then I am writer and not a theatre director so what do I know.

I still think the last line as written, is worth repeating, it was the start of the marriage ceremony of the young couple, Karl and Marika.

“Karl and Marika, you come here voluntarily with hearts prepared….”   From Sin by Colin Henchley © 2011

Thursday saw me reading in Birmingham as part of week of workshops and performances led by Jan Watts at Erdington Library, it was a really good evening with a range of local poets all delivering their unique voices and styles. It was reviewed by Gary Longden whose kind words on my reading are much appreciated, you can read Gary’s review at:

 http://www.behindthearras.com/pubreviews.html#Memoirs

I also much appreciated Gary Carr reading his poem “50”, which he wrote following my 50th Birthday party last year, it is poem that means a lot too me and really reflects the evening and my relationships, I never tire of hearing it, though some may think that is a little self indulgent, any way thank you Gary.

This week will see me attending Tony Owen’s book launch on Wednesday and at Leamington Peace Festival on Sunday.

Can I apologise to those of you who complained that there was not a lost poet last week, something I will rectify this week, but thank you for sharing my interest in re-finding these poets.

 

My lost poet this week is John Clare (1793 To 1864)

On Saturday, I spoke with Judith Allnatt, whose second novel The Poets Wife, explores John Clare’s life from the viewpoint of his wife. Her book is written to promote Clare as a poet, using a voice that is even more over looked, that of Clare’s poor wife Patty, who not only had to endure his mad genius, but also the prejudices of the critics, who saw her husband as The Northampton Peasant Poet and left him in the shadow of his richer contemporaries of  Byron, Shelley and Keats.

Clare would easily fit into the domain of my GRAFT project which explores the lives and works of labouring poets to inspire the creation of new pieces. I chose a Miner, a Railway Factory Worker and A Weavers Wife for the project as I felt they were lesser known than Clare, but never-the-less had I chosen an agricultural worker then Clare would have been the poet of choice.    

Clare was born in Helpston, Northamptonshire in 1793, the son of a farm labourer. His education was brief but gave him the basic skills at reading and writing that allowed him to explore his poetic muse in the nature and countryside around him.

He lived in times that saw great change as the Industrial Revolution forged its way acrossBritainand the enclosure acts saw the English countryside change and many farm labourers abandon their roots to seek work in the towns and the new manufactories.

His first love was Mary Joyce, whose father a more ambitious prosperous farmer forbade her to have anything to do with him.

His break as a poet came in 1820, the same year that he married Martha (“Patty”) Turner. His first volume of poems, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery was published too much acclaim and the following year his second volume Village Minstrel and other Poems was also published.

However, following this, his work though admired was not promoted as much as that of his contemporaries, Byron, Shelley and Keats, whose early deaths and notoriety far outshone that of the farm labourer with a growing family and responsibilities.

Clare found himself trapped outside the worlds of early 19th Century celebrity and that of the illiterate farm labourers, with whom he had grown up and lived among. This along with his lack of success in his writing and constant worries about money to support his large family; led to his depressions, diversions into alcohol and his eventual incarceration in the High Beach Private Asylum inEpping Forest in 1837.

He leaves the asylum in 1841 and walks back toNorthamptonto be reunited with his family; he believes he is married to Mary Joyce, his first love. This is a theme that Judith Allnatt explores in her book the Poets Wife, as Patty has to put up with his erratic delusions and though she is the loving caring wife, it is the first love, who is now dead that he visions as his wife.

He was later committed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum where he wrote perhaps his most famous poem I am. The poem reflects on the sanctuary of the asylum and the alienation that he feels from his friends and family, his love of nature and the countryside, reasserting his individuality. It seems ironic that his poem entitled “I am” is written at a time when he thinks he is Lord Byron, whose work he has re-written, or Shakespeare.

“I am”, is often referred to as Clare’s Last Lines, it has a metaphysical feel to it, and is certainly of the quality of his contemporaries and his earlier poems.

Clare is often seen as being only a nature poet, but he is more than this and wrote on themes of love, religion and politics. Following his death in 1864 – he disappeared and remained unnoticed until the late 20th century when there was an academic reassessment of his work, which saw him rise to be recognised as one of the most important poets of his generation. 

But despite this recognition by academics, he is still more widely lives in the shadow of others.

Links for John Clare:

John Clare at Poem Hunter

http://www.poemhunter.com/john-clare/

Judith Allnatt author of The Poets Wife : http://www.judithallnatt.co.uk/

The Poets Wife (Amazon Link)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poets-Wife-Judith-Allnatt/dp/055277443X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1307968801&sr=8-2

The John Clare Cottage Trust: http://www.clarecottage.org/

The Selected Poems of John Clare – Penguin Classic (Amazon)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Poems-Penguin-Classics-Clare/dp/014043724X/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1307968694&sr=8-5

COMING SOON DOINGS

Readings in June and July.

17th June – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

19th June – Leamington Peace Festival – Bandstand Stage – Time TBC

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield.

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not writing poetry

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A package of poetic things from a certain on-line book store.

LISTENING TO:

The best of  Gil Scott Heron – RIP

SOME OF MY DOINGS:

The last week has seen so much happening on the Nuneaton Poetry Day, which now has its own blog and twitter sites:

http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com/

Twitter
@nuneatonpoetday

So all future updates will be posted on these sites rather than this blog.

I have however been selecting poems to be used by a group of artists from Art Alert (http://www.artalertnuneaton.com/who-we-are.htm) who will be using them to provide the inspiration in decorating the benches in the town centre. The poems I have selected are from 1590 to the present day and represent some of the real gems in Post Medieval English Poetry. There are sixteen in all, with a mix of well known poems that are full of imagery and modern poems written by local poets.

As of the time of writing I am still awaiting confirmation for permission to use one of the poems, which may result in me having to substitute this poem with another, which I hope I do not have to do as the selected poem is a wonderful poem on a subject that is not normally associated with the poet and I would like to think that we can widen the audience for poets who are perhaps pigeon holed into writing on specific themes and their other work is overlooked. Not so much a lost poet, but lost poems.

I am sorry to be a little vague on the details of the poem and the poet, but I dealing with his estate that controls the copyright and it would be unfair to give any further details at this stage.

The weekend saw me in much need of a break and some relaxation. This started on Saturday with a leisurely start and then an afternoon trip to Sole Suckers to have my feet nibbled by Garra Rufa fish.

Now I know people cringe at the thought of fish nibbling at your toes or the idea that other people have put their feet in the water. But that never bothered me and I had no qualms or anxieties about doing this.

You also read reports about so called dodgy operators, but the staff at Sole Suckers were very knowledgeable and constantly checked the tanks, ensuring that the temperatures and purity of the water was right. The water is constantly filtered and the fish are rested between sessions on a rotation basis.

The fish are a brownie reddish colour and ranged from one to two inches long. They don’t have teeth and they just suck at your feet. The bigger fish give you more of tingle, like minute electric shocks that are quite relaxing and must be similar to reflexology in providing minute, though I am not at all knowledgeable on how these things work, so I could way off the mark. All I know is it was a most enjoyable experience and I am going back for some more next Saturday.  

Sunday saw a trip to the seaside, as we headed to Hunstanton, which is about 130 miles from Tamworth and took about two and half hours to get there.  This was a decision taken over a couple of ciders in the local pub at 10pm the night before.

I love this almost spontaneous approach, no fuss or major planning. Just a basic picnic, fill up the car with fuel and hit the road. So Sunday morning dawned, a little overcast but that was not going to stop us and we set off listening to the Archers omnibus on radio 4.

Hunstanton or “Sunny Hunny” is fairly quiet town on the East Coast. It is developing into one of the more tasteful seaside resorts. OK it has it’s fairground and the usual ice cream, beach wear and burger kiosks, but it is clean and has some nice looking restaurants and cafes, including the Tamworth Tearooms – which the waitress was not sure where the name came from and said it was something to do with someone called Tamworth, however there was a picture of a Sandyback on the wall so I am of the opinion that it may well have something to do with the town that I now call home.

There are several miles of beach mainly shingle but it is pleasant to walk upon even though the tide was out, heading down the side of the Wash through to Heacham and Snettisham.

We never got to visit the Old town or the cliffs or Sandringham, which is a couple of miles away, so it sounds like a few days in Norfolk are on the cards before the summer is out.

I have placed Hunstanton as second to Filey in my list favourite seaside towns, they have a charm that harks back to the middle of the last century, they are not in-your-face the way some places are, they do the contemporary in a quiet, unassuming way, they show and not tell; these are places for writers to set their stories and poets to reflect upon.

Congratulations to my good friend Colin Henchley whose play Sin has been given a second call from Nottingham Playhouse, which means he has to take the original 5 minute play and develop it into 10 minutes for a second performance.

More details can be found here:

http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/drama/momentum-scratch-night-2/

I am still making a Call for films for the Polesworth International Poetry Film festival in November. I have had several poets / filmmakers come forward and will be actively gathering the films offered so far over the coming weeks, but there is still space for some more, so please contact me if you are interested in submitting a film.

This coming week is really busy, with two readings, a trip to the theatre, a birthday party and a writers meeting. That will see me in Coventry, Nottingham and Birmingham.

COMING SOON DOINGS

Readings in June and July.

7th June – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

9th June – Memoirs Poetry – Erdington Library Birmingham.

17th June – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield.

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey  Green  Park.

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