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Poetry Readings Telltale Press

Telltale & Friends reading 7th July

Just a quick note on here about a Telltale & Friends reading coming soon. I shall be hosting the evening. A great bill… First, and hotter than a sizzling hot thing, is John McCullough right now. He’s a long-term Telltale friend, and his spanking new collection Spacecraft is already going down a storm. On the night we’ll also showcase Telltale’s latest recruit Jess Mookherjee, whose collection Telltale will be launching later this year. You’ll also find on the bill are fabulous Telltale stars Sarah Barnsley (The Fire Station) and Siegfried Baber (When Love Came To The Cartoon Kid). 

june16-flyer-for-email

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Poetry Readings Telltale Press

Telltale Press reading, Lewes 13 April

The Telltale poets’ collective is positively gambolling into Spring, bringing with it some exceptional poetry to Lewes next month. I’m looking forward to this Telltale reading greatly, not least because I can hungrily engulf the poetry without having to perform myself. Plus the event is free and in the characterful Lewes Arms, one of my favourite pubs in the centre of Lewes.

Prepare a fiendish pitfall trap on a Lewes side street and you’d be unlucky not to end up with a half a dozen writers in it at the end of the day. This may account for why Lewes audiences are usually so thoughtful and responsive. I’m looking forward to blending in with them there.

I’m looking forward to hearing Abegail Morley read for the first time. She has a fine publishing track record, and I last encountered her yeti dodging at the Himalayan Gardens in Kent.  Her forthcoming book is ‘The Skin Diary’. Maybe I’m biased, but I always find my fellow Telltale poets Robin and Sarah to be moving and engrossing, and I’m interested to meet Rebecca White, who I am hearing good things about.

Hope to see you there, if you’re within reach.

A5-flyer-Lewes-2016

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Painters, Performance Poetry Readings

Ernstophilia

Several years ago I had a feverish flu and was staying in a room where the only thing within reach of the bed was a book of Max Ernst’s fabulous paintings. I love Ernst anyway, and when I recovered I wrote this poem about someone who is deliriously obsessed by the painter’s work. It was originally published in Poetry London, and was collected in my latest pamphlet ‘The Nightwork’.

I was stealthily filmed reading it in London last month by my friend Robin Houghton at the Poetry Cafe in London. As the Poetry Cafe is in Covent Garden and the poem mentions Covent Garden I often read it there.

The poem mentions this picture by Ernst in it, called ‘L’Ange du Foyer’, which can be translated as ‘The Fireside Angel’.

L'Ange_du_Foyeur

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Poetry Readings

Hearing Sarah Howe & Claudia Rankine

Lucky enough to go to the South Bank with Robin Houghton who had nabbed second row seats at the T S Eliot award readings on Sunday. As last year, it was a wonderful way to experience readings from the best of last year’s poetry publications. There was indeed fine poetry on offer. I’m rather dubious about competitions generally, and comparing the apples with the oranges of this year’s offerings must have been particularly hard.

Most interesting to me were Claudia Rankine and Sarah Howe. Both delivered single poem readings of great power and intensity. Sarah Howe said her poem from heart and paused dramatically before she began. She read, with utter clarity and beauty, her poem ‘Crossing from Guangdong’ from her collection Loop of Jade. The poem’s opening line of ‘Something sets us looking for a place’ took me to a Rilke’s Duino Elegies-ish place in my mind (always a good thing). Of dual British and Chinese heritage, Sarah’s poem described how she has ‘crossed/the imaginary line’ into a different and larger identity using travel to explore the eastern side of her identity. It was a breath-taking reading. At least one person Robin spoke to was put off by her sheer professionalism of her delivery, sneering at its theatricality. I couldn’t have disagreed more. It was a stunning performance and I was glad to hear the next day that Sarah had won for Loop of Jade.

Claudia Rankine read from ‘Section VII’ of her book Citizen, which she introduced by asking us to imagine we were archaeologists examining the pronoun. The poem seemed to me perhaps over-long but it had a bracing ambition that I found completely exhilarating. Rankine, and Howe too, are dealing with the eternal trope of identity in a utterly refreshing and direct way. 

If the event did anything, it made me zoom out and buy Howe and Rankine’s books. Along with Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets, which is also a rewarding book.

Even though Robin and I were sat in the second row, I was too spellbound by Sarah’s reading to snap her, but I did manage this not particularly brilliant shot of Claudia Rankine.

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Claudia Rankine, reading from Citizen in London Jan 11 2016
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Blowing my own trumpet Performance Poetry Readings

See the future this Thursday

Frankly I’d rather eat a cactus sandwich than not hear Jack Underwood, Kitty Coles & Siegfried Baber read on Thursday night at the Poetry Cafe at 7.00 pm. But then I’ll be reading with them too in an event hosted by Telltale Press. Please come along if you’re able, or find yourself in London’s Covent Garden and in desperate need of poetry.

For me it will be an interesting to compare our night with this weekend’s annual jamboree of the T.S. Elliot prize readings, which I’ll be lucky enough to attend. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of my colleagues on Thursday might find themselves on a TSE shortlist one day. So why not glimpse the future now?TT invite

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Poetry Readings Uncategorized

Reading Jan 7th Poetry Cafe

Here’s another Telltale Press event to jolt you into 2016 wide-eyed with wonder. I’ll be reading with Jack Underwood, snapped up by Fabers like a hot kipper, Kitty Coles whose poems are charged with mythic power, plus Cartoon Kid and Telltale favourite Siegfried Baber.

A shout out to Andrew King whose photograph of me reading at the Red Roaster I purloined for use in this poster.

 

TT invite

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Poetry Reading Readings

Two short reviews: Tamar Yoseloff and Clare Best

A look at two recent publications. A Formula for Night, New and Selected Poems by Tamar Yoseloff, and Cell by Clare Best with art by Michaela Ridgway.

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Tamar Yoseloff at the launch of A Formula for Night

New and Selected Poems: A formula for Night by Tamar Yoseloff from Seren Books. A New and Selected is a point of significance in a poet’s career, and shows someone unafraid to challenge herself conceptually and in her choice of form. There are distinct phases in work,  persistent engagement with visual art is a theme too such as in the poems from Formerly based around the decaying facades of London’s built environment, in a partnership with photographer Vici McDonald. It’s a simple concept but beautifully executed, allowing peeling incomplete words to leak into the work.

The longer poem ‘Fetch’ is one of my favourites here. The poet includes a definition of a Fetch as an apparition or double. The poem starts “I send her out/into the cold dark night.” Having written about doubles myself, I was struck by how freshly and successfully Tammy approaches the idea. We see the world through a woman who may or may not be the poet, and we are remotely piloted through her investigations with a sense of mystery derived from the blurring of identity.

The collection is so varied, I have tuned into some bits faster than others. A few lines from a earlier poem ‘Moths’ have stayed with me because I’m so effortlessly drawn into them, and I find they are emblematic of her restless poetic development. Our protagonists are leaving a US diner:

“We pay, go back into the night. The car picks up
its tune of old motor and stuck gears where it left off,
the radio zeroes in on a voice, a snatch of a song,
clear for a moment then gone. The darkness is complete,
except for the moths, illuminated as they are caught
fluttering towards the headlights. In the morning
you will wipe their powdery remains
off the windscreen then drive away.”

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Clare Best reading at the launch of Cell

Cell by Clare Best, illustrated by Michaela Ridgeway and published by The Frogmore Press.

This beautifully-realised group of poems is based on the true story of a girl of fourteen who took a vow of solitary devotion.

We are told she was “enclosed in a cell built onto the north wall of the chancel of St. James’ Church, Shere, Surrey. She spent more than one thousand days in the cell before asking to be freed.” This was in 1329, but Clare Best‘s theme of female constraint and aloneness is timeless and relevant.

I love this kind of tight brief a poet can give themselves. The tension between physical and spiritual animates the sequence. And the medieval horror of it all is not shrunk from, nor how the mortification of the flesh somehow stands for a spiritual purification:

“Loosen teeth – pull them
one by one
from shrunken gums.
Two rows on the window ledge.”

(MLXXX)

“…this scalp
alive with lice.
My body rots, a holy
wilderness. My night-bird spirit soars.”

(CCCMLXXI)

Michaela Ridgeway’s intense charcoal drawings of female figures exude energy and constraint in equal measure, and so excellently complement these poems. It is a lovely project.

And as someone who has worked on a thousand junk mail formats as an agency copywriter, I always appreciate a bit of ‘paper engineering’ and this collection opens up and forms a cell of paper.

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Poetry Readings Telltale Press

Reading in Lewes on 15 April 15

Really excited to be doing this reading in Lewes, and to meet Martin Malone, editor of The Interpreter’s House, Helen Fletcher who is trekking from Carlisle to share her poetry with us and Ryan Whatley  an exciting new poet whose work Robin Houghton and I read recently and really liked. A bonus is that it that the reading is in The Lewes Arms, which is an utterly excellent pub.

Lewes reading

Categories
Poetry Readings Telltale Press

Kicking off the New Year at the Poetry Cafe

Robin covers what was a great night. Really good fun. Here’s a photo of us all too. L to R Robin, me, Rhona, Catherine and Siegfried.

January 7th