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
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
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 – email@example.com
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.
The selected poems of Osip Mandelstam (Amazon)
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.