|Who Lives in a House Like This?|
I attended the Nottingham Festival of Words both as a performer and a punter. On Saturday 9th February I read with Jonathan Taylor (we know each other pretty well) at Newstead Abbey. The Abbey is famed for being the family home of Lord Byron and is absolutely stunning. We took the twins along too and one of them was very taken with Lord Byron's indoor swimming pool, which she referred to as 'Byron's paddling pool.' There were other readings that day by C.J. Allen, Mark Goodwin and Chris Jones among others and it was a perfect location for poetry. The twins were also very impressed with a waterfall in the vast grounds of the Abbey that you could walk behind and look at the landscape through falling water.
The reading went very well and I tried out a couple of new poems too, or 'sounded them out' as I like to do with new work. Reading at the Abbey was a real treat and I'm so glad I was asked to take part.
On Saturday 16th Feb I attended the main festival at Nottingham Trent's space age Newton Arkwright building. Due to a neurotic Sat Nav in need of valium we got a little lost and missed the first reading with Sarah Jackson and Rory Waterman among others, but made it in time for lunch. I went to Deborah Tyler-Bennett's workshop to begin, Deborah was also the festival's Poet in Residence. I then had my Tarot read. The cards were friendly enough, no hanged men or falling towers, relief. Then I was in the audience for A.L. Kennedy's keynote speech and what a pleasure that was. I thought of her as a 'writer's writer' in a way, she was full of sensible comment about writing and was equally as funny as she was motivational. She has only one rule for writers, don't be afraid. There appeared to be an A.L. Kennedy wannabee groupie in the front row who couldn't resist asking lots of questions and I thought, this is the kind of writer she is, people immediately warm to her. Let's face it not all writers are personable, but Kennedy is and is genuinely committed to her craft.
After a break with added hot chocolate I went to 'We Used To Live Here' posted by Polly Rowena Atkin with guest poets Tom Warner, Jamie McKendrick and the poetry of Eireann Lorsung. Eireann was unable to come over from Belgium to participate so Polly read one of her poems. While I was familiar with Eireann and Jamie’s work, I’d never come across Warner’s poetry before, so it was a pleasure to hear him read. You can read some of his poems here. I cam away with a copy of his Faber pamphlet.