Archive for poetry reading

George Szirtes reading

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by noelwilliams

Strictly speaking, this event wasn’t part of my exhibition, as it was organised by The Poetry Business and Sheffield University. But it was held at Bank Street, in the heart of the exhibition, which we ran on until the reading began, and so most of the audience had the chance to wander round and comment on what they found.

The readings themselves were good – a huge range of different material, though. George Szirtes himself offered several different kinds of text, almost all of which were driven by some appealing formal or structural consideration (such as responding to a blacked-out postcard, or interpreting a partly obscured text) as well as being interesting as poems in their own right.

I really like Ann Atkinson’s work: her first pamphlet, “Drawing Water” (itself a lovely ambiguity) is a delicate collection, very nicely judged, with generally quite simple language yet each word very carefully placed: they remind me a little of lace or embroidery in their working, but that is to suggest a rather out of touch or hobbyist poetry which Ann’s poems most certainly are not. The resonance in her work often comes after the reading, as it were, often sharp and contemporary, or revealingly personal, when the import works through. And her phrasing can be exquisite. She also has a knack for choosing unusual subjects where you think: “why on earth has no-one every written about that before?”

Recommended reading, I’d say.

[George Szirtes and Ann Atkinson in heated debate]

The other two poets were new to me. At least, I had heard Nathan Hamilton once before, in an open mike session, but am not familiar with his work generally. And Agnes Lehockzy was unknown to me. Both are worth watching for.

Nathan’s highlight was probably the reading of most of his pieces from an Ipad – in discussion later he said he used it almost exclusively for composition now, as it was so convenient (but obviously not that convenient for getting the work onto paper – this would permanently worry me if the only version of my work was in e-form). His “Malcolm” poems are disturbing, quirky, amusing and sharp by turn.

[The four poets, discussing either e-books, Eliot or pizza, I’m not sure which. You can just see my poem on the wall above George Szirtes’s head. Possibly the closest I’ll come to sharing the stage with such a poet.]

Agnes (Aggie) on the other hand, offered us long, descriptive semi-narrative pieces, quite unusual to hear in a reading which, though perhaps a little difficult to keep focused on, were full of observed detail which she then suddenly or subtly takes in odd directions.

The evening ended with a discussion of poetry, publication and, in its most lively moments, the place of electronic media and its impact on the poetry industry. George said he had absolutely no fears for poetry, as it would last whilst humanity did, as a fundamental need. This prompted huge murmurs of assent from the audience, which is about the closest poets ever get to a rousing cheer.

[I think inspiration is just off-camera]

Ann suggested, she thought subversively (but actually not) that poetry was not about publication, but about satisfying one’s own needs in practising a difficult art; and that books would not disappear, because of their satisfaction as objects.

She’s absolutely right on both counts. All this blogging is a great way to get information out, and maybe to get known. However, we could live without computers. How could we live without books?

[Apologies for the photo quality – taken in low light on my Nokia]

Fifty visitors in a day!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by noelwilliams

I only spent the first hour of Saturday at Bank Street, showing my best and one of my oldest – er – most long-standing – friends around the exhibition. He really got into the swing of things and left a poem for the wall, as well as a mischievous piece in the visitor’s book.

Then we left for York, my prize, my reading and, it turned out, a dislocated finger.

But in my absence it seems the exhibition was inundated with visitors. Over 50, I was told, and mainly in family groups. And groups who left traces of themselves, too: poems in stones, on walls, in books, on the whiteboard. As much interaction and use of the materials as in the first, private view.

Clearly some message had gone out somewhere, but I’ve no idea what went where. My best guess is that a message to the education department of the local authority had reached schools, and from there, kids and parents. But who knows?

If you do (perhaps you visited on Saturday) I’d really like to know what drew in all these visitors.

Not so many today, though.

However, Michael and I came along, and left behind us 40 copies of the CD, hot off the presses, ready to leap into people’s pockets at a mere £5 a time. It does look, and sound, good – but there’s no telling if any will sell.

And, whilst I’m here, let me just remind you that the Tuesday Poets are reading as the finale of the exhibition at Bank St on Friday, 5th March, 6.15-8.00. There’s a bar (wine, £1) and free cake, as well as tea, coffee etc.

More on the CD

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by noelwilliams

The CD is now ready to press. I’ve updated the news on the CD page.

Unfortunately, didn’t get to Bank Street today because of illness, but a few people have emailed to say they dropped in recently, and how much they enjoyed it, which I very much appreciate. Most of my energy now needs to ensure that the CD is properly sorted, and that the reading by the Tuesday Poets next week is as successful as the MA reading last week.

MA Writers’ Reading

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 17, 2010 by noelwilliams

I’ve just come from a really excellent set of readings from my fellow MA writing students at Hallam Uni. This is the first time that students on the MA have had chance, as a cohort, to read to each other, and it was great. Everyone was disciplined, organised, and, most importantly, had chosen some excellent pieces to read. I guess it would be unfair for me to say whose work I enjoyed most, as everyone brought something entertaining, moving, provoking, amusing or beautiful to the table. A few that stick in my memory, though, are Jamie’s Cockscomb, Suzannah’s “Leeds International Swimming Pool,” Tricia’s neat little story of observational wistfulness, with its striking image of the man hauling a swan into the Dee, Joan’s clever found poem, the wonderfully melodic and expressive “River” of Fay and the musical lines of Angelina and of Ruby. However, there wasn’t a piece I didn’t enjoy, which is a rare thing to say for any reading.

Now I have to make sure the Tuesday Poet’s reading on March 5th is as good an event.