WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
People who can’t flex themselves away from their own agendas!
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
A Festival of Poets.
Brian Eno – Drums between the bells
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
This last week saw the culmination of three months work to organise the Nuneaton Summer Poetry day with the event itself.
My part in the day was as the poet in residence, observing the events and writing about them on the blog at http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com
The day started early and I arrived in the town to see the market team installing the last of the blue and white gazebos that make up the covers over the market stalls. They had been up far earlier than me to get them all into place so that the stall holders could set out their tables and start displaying their wares in time for the first customers who were starting to enter the town by 9:00.
As I said, I was early so headed to a coffee shop to grab a much needed eye-opener and to write my first two poems of the day ‘Early’ and ‘Coffee at 9:00 am’, I was joined by my partner in crime for the organisation of the day, Rach Flowers, who was dressed in her spectacular black dress and boots that any female Goth would be proud to wear.
We proceeded to meet the artists from Art Alert who were decorating the benches, inspired by poems that I had provided them, from Michael Drayton to Wordsworth to Blake and some modern poems, including one of my own, one from Mark Niel, the minstrel poet for the day. The benches were covered with cushions made from wall paper and included a newspaper inside of which was a copy of the poems that they used to inspire them.
It was interesting to watch to town folk as they were unsure whether they could sit on the benches and Art Alert had to put up signs to say “Please Do Sit on the Benches”, which I am sure one or two people managed to put the word “NOT” into when they read it. The easiest way was to lead the way and sit on the bench with my poem on which I had my photo taken. This seemed to do the trick and before long people were sitting on the benches and reading the poems in the newspapers.
I managed to get some words to use in a poem from the Art Alert team and very soon had the basis for my third poem ‘Benches’.
Art Alert also brought along a bright blue tree from which we hung poetry kites and other poems to make our Poetree, it was originally planned that the bench poems would hang as fruit from the tree, but as these were now in the newspapers, the tree was a little bare at the start of the day, but as the day progressed the poetry kites became the leaves and fruit and added to the colour of the day.
My base for blogging was the Community Café, which was proving a difficult venue for people to perform as the local people were not sure what to expect, Colin King was holding court in this location story telling and engaging with his audience, getting them involved with where the story went next.
I wrote the poem ‘Community Café’ as I sat and updated the blog, using the line ‘bending his words around the ears of Saturday’, where ‘Saturday’ is used as a collective noun for all that normally goes on in the town on Saturday, the market, the shoppers, the meeting of friends, they are always there.
Colin made full use of the space walking through it and projecting his voice with its wonderful Irish lilt. It is certainly as sense of theatre that helps to engage an audience; Colin was never static and could not be totally ignored.
This highlights the difficulty of working in such spaces, many poets read at poetry events, where they have an audience that has come to listen, an event such as this is challenging because most of the people have come to do their shopping, meet with friends and do their normal Saturday routine. Poets and story tellers can be ignored, unless they provide something that captures the imagination.
People don’t necessarily have to stop to listen; they can still wander along hearing the words as they float through the market stalls. There is also an argument that reading a poem out-loud in the street or anywhere is a ritual and that it does not matter whether anyone is listening, purely reciting the words as an act in itself is a worthy thing to do.
People like, the Brazilian Poet Márcio-André de Sousa, who I had the pleasure to meet in 2009 when he filled the Tin Angel Bar with sound poetry at Night Blue Fruit in Coventry. He ventured out to the Chernobyl Nuclear site in 2007 on what many considered a suicidal trip, purely to read poetry to the landscape, to the shell of this devastation, which he did for six hours.
What ever your thoughts on performance and the need or not for an audience, then I think events such as Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day needs to cater for both; those who see it as a ritual and those who want to engage with an audience, things to be considered for any future event.
The idea of a collaborative poem came to me quiet early in the process, I did it back in March with the Children at Birchwood Primary School in Polesworth, where we played with Kite Poetry and they gave me words to form the basis of the collaborative poem to be used on the poetry trail. I really liked the idea of words coming in to Nuneaton from all over the world and then being shaped into a poem that in some way reflected the day. Calls for words were put out on Facebook and Twitter and through the blog. Face book friends passed it on to their friends, and thanks to Gary Longden who really took hold of the idea and sent it to his friends in far distant places, many of who responded.
I was interested in the words where they would come from, who else was thinking about Nuneaton and poetry, but could not come to the town itself, I wanted part of the festival to be accessible through the web, that it was a global event with its heart in Nuneaton.
I received words from across the globe, the farthest being from Waipu on the North Island of New Zealand 11,269 miles away, from the words provided I composed the poem ‘In a Single Moment’ which drew its theme from the 60 second slam and the idea that whilst the poets in Nuneaton were performing then around the world at the same time the other events were taking place. Unifying a set of individual acts in to the events at the Poetry Day. It seemed to me that the words were just as important as the places and the people who had sent them and that the poem should reflect this.
Since the day itself, another poet has also taken the words and created her own poem, which I hope to post on the blog in the next few days.
My last poem posted on the day was my poem ‘Nuneaton’, which I will admit was written in the days on the run up to the event rather than on the day itself. The reason for this was that I wanted to present the town with a more crafted poem, but also get my mind into the right state for writing as in the weeks running up to the festival I have not written much apart from this blog.
The poem uses the River Anker, which runs through the town but has been diverted under the streets and so as you wander around you may not know it was there, it uses the poet searching for the river on market day as its theme, and how this once sparkling ribbon in the landscape has now been replaced by the glints from the market stalls, until the poet spots the movement of the people and reflects that they flow as if mimicking the river.
The day finished in the Crown pub with an open mic, compered by Milton Keynes Poet Laureate Mark Niel who organised the slam and kept things flowing at the Fountain poetry stop. The night ended with music from the Folk band, Folklaw who were excellent and should not be missed if you get a chance to see them at festivals and venues around the Midlands.
My Lost Poet this week is not so much lost but yet to be discovered by most, despite having a well respected international reputation.
Marcio Andre (1978- ), as I mentioned above he is a amongst other things a sound poet, sculpting not just words but the manipulation of echoes, reverberation and sustained waves of sound into audio vistas.
This is not music and poetry, not talking over a jazz drum and bass line. The sounds that Marcio Andre produces often do not sooth and seduce the ear when they start, they often differing clashing sounds which as the piece progresses merge into an audio vista, which has all the wonder of the earth being formed. You have to stick with them, let yourself become accustomed to them, let you mind have time to work out what is happening and how to respond.
A tree grows so slowly that we do not hear it and we can appreciate the full grown beauty of it as it takes its place in the genius of the landscape. Yet if it grew from a seed to a full grown tree in seconds, morphing from the land, then all the sound that it makes as it grows happens all at once and every creak and ache would rupture the air filling it with sound as if something was being destroyed. The end result would not be any less beautiful, still the tree, still in its place in the landscape, but the noise would resonate and maybe change how we view the tree.
To me Marcio-Andre does this with his sound poems, providing us with the opportunity to stand in the landscape or enclosed space and hear things that we would not otherwise hear or even conceive.
Marcio-Andre is the first living poet to be included in this list, he has a significant body of work for his young age and is still developing, experimenting and following his thoughts, it is therefore inappropriate from me to try and encapsulate him as the poet in a few paragraphs, it is best that you search him out for yourself, on the web and in performance.
If you get the chance to hear Marcio-Andre sound poems live then it is an experience not to be missed, there is a video on website (no 7) of his performance at Night Blue Fruit at the Tin Angel, but it doesn’t capture the electric atmosphere of actually being there, the building, the shabby furniture and the audience were all part of the experience, it was as if the whole performance was viewed and heard from inside the loud-speaker, that you were not an observer/listener, but you were a channel for the sound, a biological-amplifier that was plugged into the sound system.
Start at his website which I have included below:
THE FIZZ 8 with Matt Merritt is coming up on the 19th July as Polesworth Abbey, please do try and come along and here Matt read his poems from nature.
COMING SOON DOINGS
Readings in July.
15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.