Friday, 22 February 2013

Nottingham Festival of Words February 2013

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. 

Then, home time! The Sat Nav, or Jane as she likes to be known, was still a little shaken and delicate so we used road signs instead. The Nottingham Festival of Words is the city's main literature festival for many years. The event is still running until the 24th. Much of its organisation was by Pippa Hennessy, thank you Pippa! 

Festival Artwork

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

January 2013

A convincing January scene.
Now that February is upon us I've just realised that I've fallen behind with the blog! The beginning of January saw the launch of Overheard at the Betsey Trotwood in London's Farringdon district. It was a busy, lively event in which many of the readers came along to read extracts from their own short stories in the anthology. A good night was had by all!
Here's a blog post by Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson, complete with photos and things. Read here!

Then there was the snowy Shindig with the lovely Julie Boden, Dave Reeves, Jayne Stanton and David Clarke. If that wasn't enough I went to Leeds to read at the Poetry by Heart event at the Heart Cafe in Headingly along with fellow Leicester poets Matt Merritt, Roy Marshall and Deborah Tyler-Bennett. We also read with River Wolton and Gareth Durasow. It was a lovely evening.

Pleas note: my (late) new year's resolution is to try and write more fuller accounts of events without asking people to click 'here' every time.

Reviews and all that

Having written and published a poetry collection there was one thing I forgot to take into account, reviews. I've written a lot of them in my time but reading reviews of my own book was an experience I wasn't quite prepared for. I generally read them between my fingers and hold my breath. Here are a few out there on the internet, I had a nice one in Orbis too.

This review on the Eyewear blog by Heidi Williamson was a dream, read it here.

Matthew Stewart wrote some nice things here as did Roy Marshall on the Guardian site here.

This review is on the Dr. Fulmiare site. I've taken on board some of the points about punctuation, read it here.

As an extra quirk here is my interview with the Athens Voice in Greek! There's a translate button for Englezi people. It reads quite oddly when it's translated into English by the way, read here.

While I'm copying and pasting like a maniac let's include a few more things. Here's David Morley's blog about how judging the T.S. Eliot prize and how he quite liked mine! Oh rapture.
Read it here.

And finally... at the risk of overdoing it all, although I did say in blog post #1 that I wanted to use a blog like a scrapbook, here's someone called Maria Taylor reading out some poems at Wordsmiths in Dec. By the way I can only watch footage of myself through my fingers too, but the production values are really good.